Bible Reading: Luke 16:1-18
Let me say something very clear…there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. In fact, many of the people in the Bible who worshipped God were wealthy. God had blessed them in that way. However, there is something wrong when our focus turns from loving and serving God…to loving and serving our wealth. It doesn’t make any difference if you are very wealthy, or if you have almost nothing, at all. The things of this world are meant to serve us. They are to be used by us to bring glory to God. The way that we manage what we have demonstrates what we think about God.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
What do these movie titles all have in common?
- Mickey Mouse
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Mary Poppins.
That’s right…they were all produced by Walt Disney. And that’s not all. Walt was involved in the production of 81 feature films. Walt was an amazing man with incredible creativity. His interest in drawing began when he was just a child. In 1906, when Walt was 4-years-old, his family moved to Marceline, Missouri. Not long after, a retired doctor paid him to draw a picture of his horse. That was the beginning of a life-long love for art.
Initially, Walt worked for other people…as an illustrator and cartoonist for newspapers, magazines, advertising, theater programs, catalogs, and even the US Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes. After some time, he started his own company, which eventually became The Walt Disney Company. His first success came from a cartoon character titled “Mickey Mouse” (1928). Originally, Walt wanted to call him “Mortimer Mouse,” but a friend convinced him to change the name.
In July, 1955, Walt opened an amusement park called Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It was a huge success. But Walt had a bigger dream in mind. He had traveled around the world and seen many cities. In those cities, he had heard the noise of traffic, seen the clutter of garbage collection, and observed the difficulty of people having to make long drives to and from work. He decided that he was going to design and build a city of the future. A city that would be a wonderful place to live and work. It would be round…like a bicycle wheel…and have roads like the spokes that led from the downtown business area to the suburban living area around the outside rim. But it wouldn’t be clogged up with traffic because there would be electric people movers the size of cars and a monorail. The downtown area would all be under one gigantic dome roof. Outside of it, there would be greenbelts with parks and golf courses. It would be a wonderful place to live. He called it the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”, or “EPCOT”. In June of 1965, Walt paid $5.1 million for 27,433 acres of property in the middle of Florida, near Orlando. Everything was moving along. Walt’s dream of a perfect place to live was coming true. Then, two months after he bought the property, on December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died.
A newspaper article about his death was titled, “Epcot Died Ten Minutes After Walt’s Body Cooled”. That’s not completely true. It took a few years, but Epcot was built. And while it never did become a city of the future where people actually lived…it did become a theme park that was based on the future and how people could live. Disney World was opened in 1971 and Epcot Center was opened in 1982.
Jesus told a parable about a man who managed some land owned by a very wealthy man. The landowner found out that the manager was doing a bad job taking care of his land. He called the man in for a meeting and told him that he was going to be fired. The manager was terrified. He was about to lose his job and that meant that he wouldn’t have any money to live on. He was too proud to go to work in the fields. He was used to going to work in a business suit…not jeans, a t-shirt, and boots. And, he was too proud to beg people to give him money. What would he do? He came up with a plan. He went to the men that he had worked with who owed money to the landowner. He asked them how much money they owed the landowner and then told them that he was going to make a great deal with them. He was going to let them pay less than what they actually owed…a lot less. Why did he do that? He was trying to get them to like him so that later, when he needed help, he could come back to them (remind them of how he had helped them) and they would be nice to him and would help him. Uhhh, that’s probably illegal, right? Yeah. But get this. When the landowner found out…it was too late. There was nothing he could do because he had given the manager complete control over his business. All he could do at that point was say that the manager had made a pretty good deal for himself.
In telling this parable, Jesus was not saying that when the manager broke the law in order to make things better for himself…that it was okay. No. What the manager did was wrong. But, Jesus was using this story to make a point. What was His point? This man was looking beyond the present…to the future. He was using the resources that he had at that time…to prepare for the future. Then, Jesus said that we should do the same thing. You see, God has made us managers of His creation. You are responsible for part and I am responsible for part. Some people have big, huge parts (they are very, very rich)…and some people have smaller parts. But regardless of the size of our part…we are responsible to manage it. And how well we manage our part will determine the future, the blessings we receive in Heaven. That is why Jesus said that you cannot serve money and God…equally. Listen closely. You are supposed to serve God…and money is supposed to serve you. However, so many times, I have seen people become so caught up in making money, and more money…and caught up in buying the things that money, and more money can buy…that they actually begin to serve it. They just cannot get enough. They are always thinking about how they can get more, and more! And as a result…they stop serving God and start serving money. All that they can think about is the present. They forget about the future. They don’t think about the fact that God is going to ask them how well they managed what He had given them. Then one day, while they are busy trying to make more and more money, and while they are only thinking about the present…they die. What then? It’s too late to think about the future, then.
Walt Disney accomplished some wonderful things during his lifetime. But, there were some things left undone…because he didn’t know when he was going to die. I wonder. Would he have changed things if he had known exactly when he was going to die? Would he have had different priorities? Would he have planned for the future in a different way?
We should always keep in mind that we are managers of God’s creation and that one day we will stand before Him and explain how well we did. We don’t know exactly when that day will come. So, we should live each day as if we are going to be standing before God, tomorrow. Remember, we are supposed to serve God…and the things of this world are supposed to serve us. Don’t get them confused.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,