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Life is not a Ponzi scheme
October 24, 2011
by Rev. Bill Hillyer, Saving Grace Lutheran Church, Delano

In the first article of the Apostles’ Creed, Christians confess that they believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. By confessing our belief that God did indeed create everything there is, we also acknowledge that everything belongs to Him. The Psalmist confirms this in 50:10; “For every beast of the forest, cattle upon a thousand hills.”

Yet, how easily we forget this when we think that everything we have belongs to us. We delude ourselves by thinking that since we worked for it, or at least are making payments on something, it belongs to us – and God has no business butting into our lives by trying to tell us how to spend our own hard-earned money.

In the parable of the “dishonest steward” (Luke 16:1-8), Jesus describes what life will be like for those who try to keep what God has given them for their own selfish use. The truth is that we are only stewards, or managers, of God’s gifts in our lives. Everything we use in life belongs to God.

In fact, if you use your money, life, time, gifts, and material possessions as if they were your own, you are involved in a Ponzi scheme! You are trying to steal God’s resources to benefit yourself, instead of using them in the ways that God has called you to use them – to help your friends, family, neighbor, church, and even those strangers who come into your life.

To keep God’s gifts all to yourself is to embezzle from those around you, whom God expects to bless through you.

Unfortunately, that seems to be what most people, even well-meaning Christians do – they think the natural thing to do is to spend everything they have on themselves. They let Satan trap them in his own Ponzi scheme that tells them everything belongs to them and they should use it to find happiness in this life.

In the parable told by Jesus, the owner (God) calls his manager (you and me) to account for his actions when the news comes to him that the manager has been wasting his possessions. The manager is told he can no longer manage anything for the owner – in fact he is fired from the company.

The hard reality is that none of us will ever do everything correctly. Everything we have will wear out and vanish at life’s end. We misspend our money on things that we don’t need (or even really want), or on things that pull us from our relationship with Jesus Christ. We all sin daily and are in need of God’s continual forgiveness.

The parable calls us to place our trust in God, not in the things God blesses us with.Money, riches, jobs, and all the things this world has to offer us will draw us away from God if we place our trust in them.

Instead of thinking only about ourselves, we have been granted the opportunity to use our money and the other gifts God has given us to do good and bless those around us. All of our gifts – our time, talents, vocations, and even our money – should be used to glorify God in our lives.

God offers us a much better Ponzi scheme – one that takes all His riches and gives them freely to us on account of His son. Jesus Christ gave up everything for us and came to earth to be a humble, mistreated servant in order that all who believe in Him would not suffer the fate of the dishonest steward. By trading His life on the cross for you and for me, Jesus took our sins and paid the price of death we deserved – all so that we could be forgiven and have our relationship with our Heavenly Father restored to the way it was in the beginning. Jesus became the honest steward we cannot be – so that by believing in him we can have eternal life in heaven.

Don’t let Satan trap you in a Ponzi scheme of selfishness and deception. Instead, realize where real riches and success are found. The Apostle Paul tells us; “But God is rich in mercy because of His great love for us. We were dead because of our failures, but He made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.)

“God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with Him. He did this through Christ Jesus out of His generosity to us in order to show His extremely rich kindness in the world to come.

“God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:4-9, God’s Word Translation)