How many of us have unconsciously set up our children, by either what we’ve said or what we’ve modeled or how we work, but basically maybe hasn’t come right out and said it, but said what you really need to do is make sure that you’re wealthy, financially.
And then how many of us have broken relationships with our late-teen or adult children because they’ve actually pursued the very things we taught them by our life or didn’t teach them by our words, and now they’re little workaholics who have lives going crazy.
You cannot violate the principles of truth in God’s Word about finances without cratering eventually. We have a world economy, a national economy, and individual people’s lives that are cratering because they don’t have a stewardship with money.
I’m going to ask you to open your Bibles with me on this. Open your Bibles to Luke 16.
And by the way, here’s what you need to understand because some of your body language, it has me concerned, okay? God did not bring us together to beat you up.
The One who created the heavens and the earth says, ‘I am with you. I am for you. I’ll help you. I’ll help you in your world, in your finances, in your debt, and with your kids, and the people that you want to help in your small group.’”
But this just starts one person at a time. But here’s the New Testament command. I want to pick it up at about verse 9 to give you a little bit of context. And as you look at that here’s what I want you to hear.
Jesus has just given another one of His parables. And as you read the New Testament you realize, “Jesus, You’re killing us! All you ever do is talk about money, money, money.” But He’s really not talking about money or asking people for it. He’s talking about heart issues, He’s talking about mission, He’s talking about values.
And in chapter 16, it’s the parable of the shrewd manager. And I’m not going to read it but the gist of it is a man who is a steward. In other words, he manages the portfolio of his master.
And back then, instead of 401ks and all these remainder trusts, it was olive oil and wheat, etcetera. And so his master finds out that he’s cheating him. So he tells the guy, “Look, you’re going to get fired. You can’t manage my portfolio, my money, anymore.” And the guy comes to the conclusion, “You know, I’m too weak to dig. I’m too proud to beg. I gotta come up with a way to use this little window of time, from the time he told me I’m going to get fired to the time that I actually get fired to set me up financially.”
So he pulls in one of the creditors and says, “How much do you owe my master?” And he says, “Like , you know, eight hundred barrels of olive oil.” He says, “Quick, put a line through it, let’s make it four hundred. And how much wheat do you owe?” “About, you know, a thousand measures.” “You know, cut it in half. Or, you know, eight hundred and we’ll do that.”
And so basically what he does is he takes this tiny window of time between getting fired and what he does during that time is he sets himself up for future stability and prosperity.
And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. He didn’t commend him because it was right or good or moral. But it was smart. And then Jesus said, “For the people of this world are more shrewd in the dealings with their kind than are the people of the children of the light.”
But He makes this application: “I tell you the truth,” here’s what Jesus says to do with your wealth, “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it’s gone, you’ll be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
In other words, Jesus says, “Have an eternal perspective about wealth,” you know, live, enjoy what God gives you, stay out of debt, and then use your money during this little window called time to generously promote what God is doing so that when you enter into eternity there’s a large group of people saying, “I wanted to high-five you, your generosity was a part of me getting here.”
And then He makes the principle. He says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted also in much, but whoever is dishonest or unjust with very little will be dishonest in much. If you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” And the “true riches” that He’s talking about are spiritual riches and relationships and the things that really matter.
“And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” And then here’s His command. And this is so cut and dried, it’s so clear, and then we’ll talk about how to apply it. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either love the one and hate the other, or he’ll be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money both.
“The Pharisees,” the religious elites of the day, “who loved money, heard this and they were sneering at Jesus. And He said to them, ‘You are ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your heart.” Now listen to this, “What is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
So much of the prestige, the security, the stuff, the “what we drive,” the “who we want to impress,” what’s highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
And so you need to hear the Spirit of the living God, in this room, for us today is to put His arm around you, especially if you have younger children, and especially if your children are still in the home, but even after, to put His arm around you and say, “I’ll tell you what, let’s get on a journey and give your kids or the people in your small group, this Christmas, a priceless gift.”
And the priceless gift is you teach them to manage their money biblically. And here’s the gift they will hold in their hands: They will learn to manage their money wisely.
And now what I want to do is tell you how to do that. I’m going to get you started and we’re going to talk about some specific ways that are available that you can learn in a more in-depth way. But this will get you started.
Number one, the principle is if they can’t handle money, they won’t handle true riches. And it says he was faithful in a very little thing. Circle that phrase in your notes, “little thing,” and write above it, “money.” That’s what He’s talking about!
He’s saying to your children, “If your kids aren’t faithful and can learn to steward money, a little thing, they won’t be able to steward anything.” And so that’s why it’s your tool, parents, it’s like the greatest tool in the world to teach values and priorities and faithfulness and accountability and build character.
Well, how do you do that? Number one: Help them recognize the three purposes of money are giving, saving, and spending. Giving, saving, and spending. It’s just, it’s what you do with money.
When they’re real small, the way we did it and I suggest you do it with something different because it would probably break now, where we just took those old mason jars that people can in, and we had a can, three cans or jars, on all of our kids’ little dressers. And then in big, bold letters, we printed, “Giving, spending, and saving.”
And so we gave them little jobs and we would give them ten, you know, ten dimes for doing this job. And just kept it simple early on and they can learn about proportional giving and investing later. And they put one dime in the giving and one dime in the saving and eight dimes, you know, in the other jar.
And then later you get ten dollars and you put one dollar one dollar here and, right? And then they save up and they buy something they really want. But you teach them.
And then when they get older you get an Excel sheet or you have them put it on their phone or their mobile device and you teach them to track their money and where it goes. You know, a lot of your kids, they have no sense of money.
And for some of you, because you have been out in the world and done things, you shake your head and you can’t quite get it, like, “Dad, I don’t, I mean, really, you just don’t get it. Like, a hundred and fifty dollars for this pair of jeans is really a good buy!” Right? And you’re going, “Hello.” And then it goes to, “But, Dad, everybody else has one of these! And, you know, the contract’s not that much and, you know, mine is, like, three weeks old!”
Isn’t it a point of a lot of conflict in our homes? Here’s what I’ll tell you, here’s what poor people, here’s why poor people are rich in faith, that’s what the Bible teaches. It’s easy to discipline your kids and teach them the value of money when you don’t have any.
When my three boys were coming up, my kids are pretty well spread apart, you know, they’re, like, thirteen years from youngest to oldest. And so we were really, really poor and when my boys came to me, here’s the answer, “No.” “How come?” “Because we don’t have any money!” “Oh.”
And then eventually I wanted to help them so, you know, back in those old days, you know, Michael Jordan was the biggest name in all of sports and if you got Michael Jordan tennis shoes you were so cool! But they cost a hundred and twenty dollars. And it’s like, “You know what? Here’s some really, really good shoes that don’t have his picture on them for sixty-five. Son, I’ll pay sixty-five. If you want Michael Jordan shoes, keep mowing those lawns, do whatever you need to do.”
Well guess what they did? They bought the Michael Jordan shoes! But they realized it was, like, eight lawns and two babysitting jobs. The next time they wanted to get shoes, I gotta tell you, they had comments like this, “Dad, I don’t think Michael Jordan’s shoes are all that cool. I think they’re out.”
But they learned that. Why? They learned it because we didn’t have any money. Later on, my daughter, she’s thirteen years younger than my oldest boys and, you know, then my middle son, I had, like, three in college so we still didn’t have any money.
But little by little, you know, things got better. And my daughter is like my wife, very organized, very compliant, really smart. And, you know, she just never wanted a lot, was way too easy to raise but I think it was God’s gift to me.
And so, over her junior year, we lived in Atlanta and we were shopping and doing something and she asked something and I can’t remember the exact setting. But I realized, “Wow, she doesn’t ask for hardly anything but she doesn’t have a clue about the values of money.”
And I went home and I said, “Theresa,” I was in the car, I said, “Honey, we’ve blown it with Annie. I think we did a good job with the boys. They get it.” And I said, “I want you to figure out how much money do we spend on Annie every month. I mean, makeup, clothes, camps, everything.”
And so she went through and did all that and then we had a little meeting with Annie and I apologized. I said, “Annie, I’m your dad and as a spiritual leader of our home I’m supposed to teach you about the most important things in life. And Jesus said one of the most important things in all of life is how you handle money and being a steward. And you’re great with it, you don’t ask for hardly anything, you’re low-maintenance, but I haven’t taught you.”
And so we figured out, “We spend about this much money a month. Now, we’re going to, at the first of the month, we’re going to write you a check for that amount of money. We set up a bank account for you.” Back then, remember the old days when people used checks? So you had a checking deal. And, by the way, I encourage you, the last year or so, your kids need to have a credit card or a debit card and while they live in your home they actually learn how to use it instead of going to college and get a t-shirt and get their own and have five thousand dollars of debt that you didn’t’ know about.
And so then we said, “Okay, so, Annie, the camps are going to come up. There’s a ski camp and there’s this. I’ll pay half. And then you can buy whatever kind of makeup, you can buy whatever kind of clothes, you have this amount of money.”
And you know, it’s was really interesting because it was a conversation about a blouse or something and I’m sort of old school and it was this one or that one, they look about the same. But this one was, like, sixty dollars more and her comment was, “I think this one is prettier.” And I’m thinking, “I’ve raised a daughter that doesn’t look at the right side of the menu at restaurants.”
It wasn’t her fault, it was my fault! Now, it was really interesting later, you know, we’re out shopping, we’re doing something and, “Oh, Dad! What do you think of this?” I thought, “Oh, that’s really nice.” “What do you think about this? Oh, look, look, Dad, they’re charging xxx just for that little label. Were you thinking I’m going to buy that!?” And I’m thinking…
Now, you know what I told her? I said, “If you want to buy it, great! It’s not wrong, it’s not bad. But you get to spend your money and steward it however you want.” And she was always generous and always gave but she learned.
Now, here’s my daughter, get this, it was from the middle of her junior year roughly and all of her senior year, when she went away to college, she had, like, three thousand dollars of my money in the bank.
Well why? Because she learned to become a steward. Have you had the money talk with your kids? Teach them to recognize there are only three things they can do with it.
Second, teach them to commit to honor God with the first-fruits of every paycheck to remind them that it’s His money, not theirs. Proverbs 3:9 and 10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first-fruits of all your crops.” It was always meant to be a faith issue.
Then notice God’s promise to those Old Testament saints, “Then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be overflowing,” or, “brimming with new wine.”
Teach your kids when they get the allowance; when they get something, from babysitting; when they get a little gift from someone. You know, write down James 1:19, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” Everything they get you just want them to get, “God gave it to you. It’s God’s. You’re just a steward.” So teach them early on.
It’s easy to give a dime, it’s easy to give a dollar, it’s easy to give ten dollars out of a hundred dollars, it’s easy to give a thousand out of ten thousand. But when those numbers get higher and higher and higher, you know what happens? We start balking. So you teach them early.
And, by the way, this is not a message about tithing or this and that. In fact, if your kids get the generosity heart what they’ll realize is they’ll do that and then they’ll see a little kid that doesn’t have any food with Compassion International or World Vision or someone on the streets and they’ll start being a generous person.
And you want to teach them that it’s His money. And the reason that we give first and off the top is because left to ourselves, all of us forget that. And we think it’s ours. And so it’s just one of those things that God puts in place to keep your focus where it needs to be.
Because the reason we have debt is we think things will give us and deliver security and happiness and all the rest. And if we pass on the debt mentality and the reason most people say they can’t give generously is because their debts are messing with their money.
Giving, spending, and saving were God’s goal. Now, you have to pay taxes. But in most homes in America, Christians included, the debt service is a huge chunk of every month, of every paycheck. So you’re actually paying for stuff in the future, some of you, at twenty-one percent on your credit cards.
If that was your money and you want to do not smart stuff with your money, that’s one thing. It’s not your money. That’s what you’re doing with God’s money. And sometimes the consequences and the loving discipline of God is because some of us aren’t using His money very well and He wants to get our attention.
The third way that we help our kids is encourage them to make time with God their number one priority so they’ll know how to invest the time, talent, and treasure entrusted to them.
See, at the end of the day, how in the world do you know, “Should I buy this or should I buy that? Should I do this or should I do that? Should I go into this field or go into that field? Should I take my vacation over here or over here?” I want you to know, this is not a secret. God promises in His word, what’s He say? “My Word is a lamp unto your feet, and a light unto your path.”
You want to both model with your life and you want to help your kids, sure, family devotions around the dinner table, you want to sit down with them before they head out to school if they’re small and pray together. And then as early as possible, you want to give them some sort of easy, approachable program where they begin to read God’s Word on their own.
But not just, like, “Okay, I read two chapters, I don’t feel so guilty.” No! It’s, “God, will You speak to me? God, I have a question about this boyfriend. Is he the right one? God, I’ve got a big calculus test and I’m really concerned about it. God, got a big game and I’m feeling a lot of pressure. Would You give me the grace and the confidence not only to be a good testimony but to play the very best I can?”
And you teach them to depend on God and you teach them that He will speak to them and His Spirit will use His word, and then they’ll have the wisdom to make the right decisions about their time and their talent and their treasure.
Some of us feel like, “I would love to do that and teach them but I’m too busy.” In Mark chapter 1 is the most intense, busy day recorded in all the gospels of Jesus’ life. I mean, He heals, He teaches, it’s early morning ‘til way into the night.
And in Mark chapter 1 verse 35 it says, “And very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus arose and went to a lonely place,” and He spent time with His heavenly Father.
If the Son of Man, who was absolutely perfect and without sin, but being fully man, felt the need and the dependency to say, “Father,” see I think I know even what He prayed. I think He prayed, “Father, I’m exhausted, number one. Father, number two, is that everybody wants a piece of Me.”
And sometimes we get this idea that Jesus was sort of, He was fully divine so it was easy. He lived the Christian life the way he modeled for us. He depended on the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t turn on His “God side.”
And He felt every pressure that you and I feel. He had every tension, temptation that we have. And I think He said, “O God, will you help Me get clear on My priorities?” Because when the disciples came, because they couldn’t find Him, they came and said, “You were a hit last night! I mean, you’re like the new rock star! People are coming from all over. Feed them again! Heal them! It’s great!”
And He said, “No, I must go to every village and preach the gospel.” He got clear on His mission. And that’s what you want for your kids.
Here’s the life message that God wants for your children and it’s a priceless gift. And the life message is very simply: Your life is a sacred stewardship. Boy, that’ll change how they do everything. It’ll change who they date, it’ll change their time, it’ll change their money, it’ll change their future, it’ll change their vocation.
Their life is a sacred stewardship. God is not longing to make people feel bad or guilty about what you haven’t done in the past or what you’re not doing in the present. He wants you to say, “Okay, where did He speak to me?” I mean, just right now, where did He speak to you?
What specific mid-course change do you sense you need to make? When will you do that? Most of us, when we know to make a change, and this is one that is so easy, like, it’s not like, “I think I’ll pray deeper.” Well how do you measure that? Money stuff you can measure pretty…
“Who would help me? Who is a trusted friend? Who would help me take some steps that I would feel free saying, ‘You know what? I need personally to take some steps to get out of debt.’ Or, ‘I need to start meeting with my kids.’ Or, ‘My daughter is coming home from college and, you know, we need to have a parent/daughter talk and begin this journey, because I care about their future marriage and I care about their future debt level and I care about them fulfilling God’s will and I care about them.’ And so, even more importantly than the sex talk, no matter what age, we’re going to have the money talk.”