“So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Who Are the Servants of God?
Today’s Scripture passage talks about a shrewd steward in a household. Through this parable, the Lord is asking us whether we should live as a servant of righteousness or a servant of man. The Lord said that the sons of this world are shrewder in their generation than the sons of light. He is telling that there are so many quick-witted people in this world who behave more wisely than God’s people.
We can apply His teaching to our life as follows: Let’s suppose there is a man who is about to be fired because of his tardiness and inability to work. He thought hard what to do before he would lose his job, and filled out paper works to remit all the debt that the debtors to the company had. Simply speaking, he forged documents. He helped the debtors to the company in such way. Precisely speaking, he was committing sins of breach of his duties and forgery, but let’s focus on his motive only. Why did he do so? It was because he wanted to be shown kindness by those debtors when he lost his job. In other words, he was scrupulous in preparing his future. The Lord regarded such action as shrewd. With the servant in the parable in mind, He said, “The sons of this world in this generation are more shrewd than the sons of light.” Even though such selfish conduct of people in this world is saddening, the Lord still regards it as shrewd behavior. Through today’s passage, we the righteous need to think about whom to serve throughout our lives.
The Lord told us to make friends with unrighteous mammon. He also said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” He asked rhetorically if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own; He also told us not to serve two masters. He concluded by telling us to make up our minds whether to live for ourselves or to live for the Lord.
We Can’t Serve Two Masters
In other words, this world cannot be our master at the same time as we serve God as our Master. We must choose one out of the two. We need to decide whether to serve the Lord as our Master or to serve the world.
However, before we make our decision, there is one thing we should consider. How can a righteous man live a wise and shrewd life? We all need to be scrupulous in doing everything. We need critical eyes. It applies to us as well as to this world. We need to look back the paths we have walked and decide what we need to do to change for more shrewd living. If we don’t think about such things first, it is not easy to make a quick judgment and thereof make proper choices. I would like to point out to you clearly that it is not the Lord’s will for us to live in a happy-go-lucky way without self-examination.
Brothers and sisters, we have a totally new Master different from our old master. What our new Master wants from us is completely different from what our old master demanded from us, so if we live our old life from force of habit, we cannot please our new Master. It will bring us a great loss. Therefore, we need to think carefully about how to receive the grace from the Lord, and make a right judgment.
Brothers and sisters, striving to live for the Lord is truly righteous life. We should change our self-centered life styles and live for the righteousness of the Lord. The Lord once told us the parable to teach us to think ahead whether to be able to win a war against twenty thousand with ten thousand, and to send a delegation for peace if it is less likely to win the war. He told us the parable to mean we should calculate beforehand what is more profitable in our decision-making process. Therefore, we should remember God’s Word and make a right choice. That will lead us to live a life without regrets.
Those who live for the righteousness of the Lord seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first. Who lives a careful and prudent life remembering the Word of God and making good choices? They are those who live for the righteousness of the Lord. They always calculate prudently beforehand and try to live a more profitable life than they do now. They always choose what is more beneficial for them and stick to their decisions. If you are a businessperson, it is natural for you to run your business for more profits. That way, you are a wise businessperson. Likewise you and I also need to take the cost and result of our pending plans into consideration and think about whom to live for and try to live a righteous life.
The procedure of your life is as important as its result. Most people regret their past lives when they look back at an elderly age. Most of the aged say that they have lived their life in vain when they are asked if they think they lived a successful life. They add that they will definitely live a different life if they could be given another chance. You and I haven’t reached the final stage of our life yet, but we should be able to give accounts for our lives without any regrets in the future. Our Lord knows well where we are headed. If we do not calculate the cost and result of our lives and live in a happy-go-lucky way without planning for our future, we will most likely regret when we stand before the Lord.
Therefore, we need to be more calculative with our lives just as we would in running a business. Serving the righteousness of the Lord is just like running a business in a sense. There is a parable in the Bible about a man who delivered some talents to his servants as he was leaving for somewhere. When he came back, he commended the servant who earned five talents with the five talents he received from the master. He also commended the servant who earned two talents with two talents. But the servant who had one talent kept the talent in the ground and was rebuked and punished for his unfaithfulness. The man was truly foolish.
Yesterday we had quite a bit of snow. This morning I heard on the news that a man who owned a chicken farm has just lost his business when the snowstorm hit the chicken coops and killed them all. During the interview with a reporter, he said bitterly that he would think what had happened to his fortune and look for a new job. But when I think about the man, he should have been prepared for the severe snowstorm. He could have prevent the tragedy if he had planned for the upcoming danger. Unfortunately, most people do not live a preventive life but blame their failure on their destiny. As a matter of fact, a lot of people regard what happens to them as a part of their destiny. But Jesus did not tell us what jobs we should have and how to live in preparing for the future. Since we are given a common sense, those who do not prepare for such disasters are foolish. Such person is foolish and he is not accommodating himself to the destiny that the Lord has given. Even though you and I are born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we should calculate prudently. If we don’t, we are as foolish as the man whose business went bankrupt due to the severe snowstorm.
Brothers and sisters, we should dedicate our lives to God and live our lives for the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We can see clearly it is the right way to live our lives when we calculate its cost and result. So which life would you choose? There is a huge difference between the man who calculates the cost and the result and the man who doesn’t. The size of the happiness and unhappiness will vary depending on whether we count the cost or not.
We are all born again Christians through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Do you think God will mislead His children? I don’t think so. I do believe that He rather blesses His children. I also believe that He is prepared to give greater blessings to those who live for His Kingdom and His righteousness. But for those who do not calculate the cost and the result, only difficulties will wait for them.
Therefore, we should think ahead and calculate beforehand the cost and the result as we live. We should think carefully how to live. As for those of us who are born again, living for the Lord is taken for granted. But if we contemplate how to give more glory to God, He will give us wisdom to find answers for the questions we have. If you discuss your concerns with your pastor, you might find more solutions.
I always experience in the evangelism ministry to the world that God never fails to provide us with material things we need. However, we should think about His blessings and pray a lot to be able to receive such blessings. We also need to calculate how many souls we can save with the amount of money that God grants us for the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We the servants of God should calculate the cost and the result in world mission and pray and challenge for the task.
Some ministers live very poorly, while others are affluent. The difference comes from whether they calculate the cost and the result of their ministry or not. Those who are concerned with their present conditions live from hand to mouth, while those who live for the spread of the gospel always lead an abundant life because the Lord fulfills and blesses their lives. Therefore, we need to think again what is profitable to us. I want you to remember that there is a huge gap between the life with careful plans, prayers, and challenges and the life without them. We need to calculate the cost and the result of our plans and set a clear goal about our life. And then we should make a challenge with everything ahead by faith.
Even in This Depressed Period We Can Live for the Righteousness of God
Even in this economic depression, there are a lot of businesses that are likely to boom if carefully planned and prayed about. Haven’t you heard that crisis can be a chance? Some people become rich by doing business, while others fail; the difference is in whether they started the business after thorough researching and planning. It is true of those who are not born-again as much as to the born-again. That is why we always need to pray. We need to pray for the money for our Church. If we just try to spread the gospel without prayers and challenges by faith, how can God give us any blessings? The Lord is God the Creator. We should use our brain to preach the gospel. As we are prudent for God and think more about Him, we will naturally get good results.
If we ask God for more money for spreading the gospel, God will give us more. I believe that God will grant us more money when we pray, think and seek by faith. These days there are a lot of people who are forced to retire from their jobs prematurely; it is happening to them because they didn’t know how to calculate the cost and the result of their lives. Those who go to work, do their jobs half-heartedly, come home, wash themselves and go to bed without much challenge will face premature retirement. In other words, those people do not think creatively about their lives. If they have more passion and think more progressively trying hard to be someone that their work places really appreciate and need, such thing will not happen to them. If you have faith, you will get good results through God’s Church. I want you to believe that you can be the best in your field when you learn the faith and be guided by the servants of God.
We need much money to preach the gospel to people all over the world. At such time as this, we need to challenge by faith and prepare a big vessel to hold all God’s blessings. I hope and pray that God will help us find businesses that need little investment and bring much income. Reaping much with little effort is the principle logic of economy.
In today’s message the Lord says that a man cannot serve two masters. So it is easy to calculate what is more blessed whether to serve the gospel with God and share God’s glory when He returns or to be friends with the world and perish with the worldly. However, there are some saints who do not calculate the investments and the results of their lives. Brothers and sisters, our life doesn’t come back once it is gone. Life is one time deal for everyone so we should live a life without regrets. Do not forget this. Time that has passed will never come back. It is the same as not being able to wash your hands with the same creek water that has just passed you by.
This is a digression from the sermon, but there is a bar called ‘Lee Chung Dol’ near the Chuncheon Church. I didn’t have any idea what the name of the bar meant when I first saw it. Two months later, I found out the word is an acronym of Korean words meaning, ‘Give my youth back.’ It seems to me that the owner of the bar misses his youth very much. But as you all know, the youth period you had cannot come back. That is totally impossible. Time flows like a stream of water, and we have regrets, while we have good memories as well as bad memories as we look back our past. For the passed time doesn’t come back to us ever again. Therefore, if one can say to oneself, “I couldn’t have gotten this, if I hadn’t made such choice then,” he or she is likely to have led an okay life. Any man feels regretful about things he could have done better. Time does not pass without leaving everyone with either a feeling of satisfaction or regrets.
Anyway, I will still calculate the investments and the results of my way of life carefully no matter whether Jesus is coming tomorrow or a hundred years from now. I recommend the same thing to you. Time flies while you just sit there helplessly. So we need to count our cost all the time. Those who do so do not have regrets about their past. They may have small regrets but they would not lament over what had happened to them.
However, those who live their life without any calculation and thoughtful plans will end up with regrets. You should know that there is nothing to gain from living a long life without calculating the investments and the results of your life and living an aimless life that never sows the seed of future harvest. Those who do not live by the faith in the righteousness of God will regret without fail. They will say regretfully in their old age, “I could have learned and earned more if I had walked in union with the Lord by faith.”
Faith is the most important thing for the righteous to lead a satisfactory life. Then what should we do to have such important faith? First of all, we need to learn such faith from our predecessors of faith who have had true faith. In other words, we should follow their steps by being guided by people of faith. In a sense living a life of faith is not so easy. Even though we are saved from sin and renewed, we cannot do everything arbitrarily or independently. Moreover, faith doesn’t grow without learning. It is impossible to find someone with faith who doesn’t belong to any Church. People who have left God’s Church tend to stand against His Church. They cannot help living a regretful life once they leave the Church. Therefore, we should learn the faith in the righteousness of God from the people of faith. That is how we can live by faith. We need to try to live by faith through learning and praying.
In world history, there are some reckless people who tried to conquer the world but failed. Such attempts are so reckless and selfish before God. The only thing that pleases God is to conquer the world with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Whenever we plan for something and carry out our plans, we must have good intention to spread the gospel to the world for the Lord; otherwise we cannot get any help from the Lord. Since the Lord told us to first seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, we need to live an obedient life to the command by spreading the gospel for the righteousness of God, for the expansion of God’s Church, for saving souls, and for the peace of all men. To preach the gospel, we should not do anything without plans. We must have plans before we carry out any tasks.
You also need to figure out how much longer you will live and what you need to do during the rest of your life. Otherwise, you will fall prey to the fatalism and give up on your life. However, God has never set such limits as fates in our lives. God is the just God who gives the same opportunity to enjoy His peace and blessings to whoever makes the right choice.
We Will Preach the Gospel This Year as Much as We Have Done So Far
Up until now, we have preached the gospel of the water and the Spirit to about 110 countries in the world. We should not feel content with this, but should try, pray and seek even harder to preach the gospel to unreached countries in every corner of the world. To do so, we need more ministry workers and more money. So we need to keep challenging in the faith that God provides us with what we need in His time. Money doesn’t grow on a tree. Only God can fill our empty bowls when we prepare the bowls and pray to God by faith. 2 Kings chapter 4 describes the miracle of a widow’s oil. When the widow and her two sons borrowed empty bowls from her neighbors in obedience to the words of Elisha, those vessels were filled with the oil flowing out of the oil jar. From that moment the widow and her children lived a comfortable life.
Likewise we need to prepare our bowls before we ask God for material things. We have to carry out the work by doing our best in our own places. God will then absolutely fill our bowls and when we make wise judgments for the benefit of God’s Kingdom and carry out our prudent plans. This means that we should always pray and seek God’s blessings with the goals in our minds that we do what we do for the spreading of the gospel. Without our knowledge, God will then fill our empty bowls all of sudden. The Lord said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11) When we look at this world in the eyes of faith, we can tell that multitudes of people will come to the Lord when He returns to this world.
Now is the time for us to sow the seeds of gospel. The more seeds we plant, the more harvest we will reap. In other words, the more we preach the gospel, the more blessing we will receive in the future. We will have abundant fruits from here and there at the time of harvest. By then some people may become the wealthiest in the world, while others become heroes who are well revered and shine like sun in the sky for benefiting a lot of people on this earth.
Brothers and sisters, do you know who makes the most contributions and bring the most benefits to the human race? It is those of us who are born again. You and I are doing the most works for the benefit of human race ever since human beings were created. We live for other people in the world by praying for them, while others live self-centered lives. I am not encouraging you to blow your own horns, but we are in fact the greatest and the most useful people of God. You should feel proud of yourselves for being the number one God’s chosen people with humanitarian spirit.
Let’s talk about what kinds of contribution we have been making to this world. We are the model citizens, who always keep the traffic rules and pay taxes. We also help people in difficulties. There are so many people who do not keep the most basic norms of a society, but we are different. We do not have any evil plans but pray for people in the world. We are working for the reconciliation between God and human beings with the gospel Truth that brings peace to everyone. No matter where we go, it is hard to find people to work for other people’s benefits. We may receive the awards much greater than the Nobel Prize. The Lord said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mathew 5:10)” and those who are peacemakers will be given peace.
You and I are such blessed people. I believe that God will pour out His blessings on what we do for the Lord. We will be blessed when we believe in His faithfulness and challenge by faith. Let’s find out the goals, methods and positions we are given and serve the Lord with all our hearts and strength until we die. Then God will add more blessings to us so that we can benefit more people.
We are on the same boat with the Lord: We need to make up our mind to serve Jesus Christ as our Lord and join Him in expanding His Kingdom. We shouldn’t expect to get any blessings without such commitment of our hearts to God. Even though we are insufficient, we should commit our lives to the Kingdom of God thinking that our bodies are no more ours but the precious instrument for His righteousness. When we set our hearts to serve only the Lord, God will be with us and bless us.
Therefore, making up our mind is so important. There is a huge difference between those who have committed their hearts to God and those who do not. Those who serve the Lord without any commitments in his heart will eventually betray the Lord. On the other hand, those who set their hearts to serve only the Lord will always live for the Lord whether they are in good conditions or in bad conditions; whether it rains or snows. God is on their sides. The faith in our hearts is more important than anything else. I want to re-emphasize this to you. Once you make up your mind and seek His help with such confession as this, “I only have one Master. I am the servant of God. So I will live for the Lord, my Master,” you can live a life as a faithful servant of the Lord. When we live such lives, our Master will glorify us and bless us.
However, the Lord Does Not Acknowledge Those Who Try to Serve the Lord without Making up Their Mind to Live for Him
People who live for something else will turn their back against God some day. Therefore, we need to become trustworthy in the eyes of the Lord. We can do the work of the Lord when we have a strong determination that we will do anything and overcome any difficulties for the Lord. The Lord gives more work to those who try hard. Those who have such attitude will be loved and blessed more by the Lord, and we should keep this in mind.
However, the Lord is worried about those who live without making any commitment to the Lord. Even if they seem to be doing okay at the moment, the Lord knows that they will eventually leave Him with worse conditions than right now. God can assure those who are committed, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).” He also promises them, “I will help you and support you, for you are my servant no matter how insufficient you are”, but to those who are not committed, He doesn’t say such things. The Lord also makes His mind to be on the side with those who decided to work for Him.
Brothers and sisters, we are serving the Lord. So we are His servants. Some people think that the word ‘servant’ carries some kind of privilege, but a servant of God means just the one who does what the Lord tells the person to do. If the Master holds a feast, the servant has to go to the feast and enjoy the food; when there is something bothering his Master, he has to do his best to help the Master solve the problem. That is what servants should do. From the moment when we make up our mind and say to ourselves, “The Lord is my Master and therefore I will live only for Him from now on,” the Lord’s work becomes our own task. We as His servants should work hard for the benefit of the Master and take a good care of our Master’s possessions.
God’s Servants Do Not Get Tired While Doing God’s Work
Our body may get tired, but our hearts will always be glad and peaceful when we do God’s work. Doing the work for our Master is like doing our own work. It is because we are one in a sense, even though we stand in the relationship of master and servant.
In the movie ‘Ben-Hur’ the main character comes back to his house after an exile. When he came back, his old house had been completely ruined. At that moment, someone shows up. It was a daughter of his old servant he had before he had gone into the exile. She takes him to some place, where he finds his old servant with his one leg cut. He finds out that his servant had to go through the torture because of him, and he carries him on his back to his house. Then he falls in love with the servant’s daughter, who has remained in the house.
The servant in the movie never blamed his master even though he had to suffer from the pain when his leg was chopped because of the master. Neither did he lament over his fate, nor did he blame on the indifference of his master. I was really touched by the attitude of this servant when I watched ‘Ben-Hur.’ Servants may suffer for their master, since their life is tied to the life of their master; faithful servants should have the same attitude of the servant in the movie, who felt sorry for not being able to serve his master as well as he did before without claiming any righteousness when his master came back. It is needless to mention that servants should share the joy of his master.
Just like a steward takes care of a household as his job, the job of servant of God is to live for God and die for God. It is natural for servants to be glorified as well as to be humbled for the master. Likewise we all need to become the faithful servants for the Lord. We should always remember that the Lord’s business is our business, that His glory is ours, and finally that our Master is the Lord Jesus Christ. With such an attitude in our hearts, we can do anything with joy. By remembering that everything comes from God, we should rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks to God. That is the true state of mind of a faithful servant.
If we consider ourselves the master of our own lives and try to do things with our own ideas and volition, we cannot do Lord’s work willingly. We should always discuss what is on our minds and be united with other saints lest that we feel like doing our own thing. To divide and do God’s work more efficiently, we need to consult with God’s servants and our coworkers and make decisions based on the discussion we have with them.
He who can work with joyful heart for the Lord no matter what task is given to him is truly committed to the Lord. Such person can do anything with cheerful heart. He might feel bothersome about his own work, but he will try to do better in the work for the Lord. On the other hand, those who consider themselves as their own masters, make decisions based on whether it is beneficial to them or not. However, Lord’s servants will not pick and choose what he wants to do for the Lord as long as it is for the Lord. He knows that he will be blessed for that in the future.
There are two kinds of believers: Those who became their own kings and those who serve the Lord as their King. When we compare the hearts of these two groups, we can find that the hearts of the latter is more peaceful than the hearts of the former. Those who serve the Lord as their Master do everything for the glory of God, no matter what they eat or drink. They tune everything to the will of the Lord, their Master. Faithful servants of God have the courage to do what seems crazy in people’s eyes but profitable to the Lord, the courage to refuse to do what looks beneficial to themselves but not to the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, haven’t we been serving the Lord in such way? We have been working for the Lord without ceasing. Was preaching the gospel to over 110 countries done for us? If we had worked to satisfy our own desires, we couldn’t have preached the gospel in so many countries. If it is something for us, we can feel satisfied with small achievement. But when we do things for the Lord, our Master, we cannot stop at a small achievement. We don’t have time to enjoy such small achievements because we see many other things to do. The heart of the faithful servant differs so much from the heart of those who are masters to themselves. There are also distinct features between people who live for other people and people who live for God.
Ministering is the same thing. Those who minister for God and those who carry out pastoral duties for people according to the situation are different as well. Since their goals are different, the means and results are all different. Their beginnings look similar to each other’s, but when a problem arises, each of the groups shows different ways and attitudes to handle the situation. Those who serve God as their Master can understand what went wrong, turn around, and stand on God’s side in such troubled situations. At the moment of decision-making, they always take their stand by God’s side. But those who are not committed are most likely to betray the Lord and pursue their own profits in such situations. That is why the commitment of the heart is so important in serving the Lord.
Those who set their hearts towards God can profess, “I will give up my life and live for God. It is worth it since the gospel is so precious and brings benefits to people. So I will work for the Lord and live for Him with all my heart.” God cherishes those who have such faith. Will God not take care of such faithful servants? Therefore, you and I should become truthful servants. As a matter of fact, everyone needs to become such a faithful servant of the Lord.
But there are not many faithful servants of God. We need ‘true servants’ not ‘mere servants’. When we commit our hearts to Jesus Christ and set our hearts to live for Him, God can do amazing things through us. No matter how big a crowd is following the Lord, if they are not committed, they are all useless to the Lord. They are of no use to God. They will most likely run away when they see an iron hammer. However, truly faithful servant of God is not afraid of anything in this world. We can do the same thing in return; we shall throw the iron hammer of the Truth to people in this world in return.
Let us not serve two masters but serve only one Master. Let us set our hearts to live for the Lord. Let’s set our hearts towards the Lord no matter how hard our life will get. I believe God will work things out once we commit our hearts to Him.
Brothers and sisters let us live by faith. And let us live as the servants of faith. We are the servants of God’s Kingdom. The servants of God are truly happy. They are not ordinary servants that work for the people of the world but the servants of the Christ. As you all know, there are people who are slaves to others. Let us laugh at them when we see them. Whom we serve as our master puts us in a different position. We serve the Master, who is worthy of our lives. He is more than worthy of our lives. It is a great blessing to have such a great Master. We are such blessed people.
Blessed are those who do not feel sorry about sacrificing themselves to serve the Lord. It is really worth being the servant of the Lord. On the contrary, those who serve unworthy masters are really pathetic. Our Master is the Lord only. I believe that God will help us and work through us when we set our hearts to preach the gospel diligently and to do the work of the Lord. He will surely do it for us. All we need to do is to seek, ask and knock by faith and prepare our vessels. And we need to keep on going by faith. God will help us and accomplish everything through us with His almighty power, as we move on seeking His help. I do believe this as truth. I believe you all do so.
Brothers and sisters let us live by faith. We can just render all our worries to the Lord and live a prayerful life focused on the work of the Lord. All we need to do is to live a faithful life as His servants. In other words, we can just serve the Lord as our only Master. I believe that He will bring us life, peace and blessings when we serve Him as our Master with all our heart. I end this sermon with thankful heart to the Lord.