People or Money?
First Reading: Amos 8:4-7
Opening Questions: Have you ever seen someone get cheated or lied to? What happened?
Long ago, young Amos led the flock of his father through the hills. He loved his father and was dedicated to his father’s flock. He cared for each and every one of his father’s sheep. He knew each one by name. And they knew the call of Amos.
In the late spring, Amos took the sheep to be sheared of their wool. His father shaved the wool off each sheep, gathered it together, and took it to the wool buyer in town to sell it. The wool buyer began quietly inspecting it. Suddenly, the wool buyer began to yell at Amos’ father, as he threw the wool back at Amos and his father. “This is wool of diseased animals! How dare you bring it to me! It’s worthless!”
Rage flashed in Amos’ eyes. He knew the sheep were healthy and the wool was the highest quality. What was this man doing?
Before Amos could say anything, his father put his hand on Amos’ shoulder and squeezed. Amos looked up into the knowing eyes of his father. He knew to remain quiet as his father spoke.
“Alright,” his father said in a low voice. “I will take my poor wool to the merchant in the next town. He will recognize its quality. He will pay me a fair price.” Amos and his father gathered up the wool and began to walk away.
“Wait!” the wool buyer cried. “Let me have a second look. Maybe there is some wool I could use.”
“So, you changed your mind?” Amos’ father replied. “My wool isn’t so bad, is it? Is this your way to cheat me?”
That was the first time, but not the last time, Amos saw cheating. The older he got, the more he saw cheating, even when it was against God’s Law. Amos became so angry with cheaters he traveled north to preach to the evil rulers of Israel.
Read: Amos 8:4-7
Why did Amos get so upset with the merchants in Israel? How were the merchants trying to cheat?
Bridging Question: If someone gave you one hundred dollars, what would you do with the money? Would you spend it on yourself or someone else?
Gospel: Luke 16:1-13
Jesus told his followers, “Once, a rich man had a money manager. But the rich man accused the manager of wasting his money. So, the rich man called the manager aside. ‘What’s this I hear about you?’ the rich man said. ‘Put your account reports together for me. You’re fired!’
‘What will I do now I’ve lost my job?’ the manager worried. ‘I’m not strong enough to dig ditches. And I’m too proud to beg on the streets. I know what to do! I’ll make sure those who borrowed money from the rich man will welcome me into their homes!’ The manager called the borrowers in, one by one. ‘How much to you owe the rich man?’ the manager asked the first man.
‘One hundred barrels of olive oil,’ the man replied.
‘Quick! Sit down and write fifty barrels on your bill,’ the manager said. ‘How much do you owe?’ the manager asked another person.
‘One hundred bushels of wheat,’ that man said.
‘Sit down and write eighty on your bill,’ the manager said.
I admire the dishonest manager because he acted in a shrewd way. The people who love money are much smarter dealing with other money lovers than those who care more about God. So, let me give you some advice. Use money to make friends among the poor and needy. When the money is gone, you will still have a home in heaven. The person that can be trusted with small things will be trusted with great things. But, the person who cheats with small things will cheat with great things. If you cannot be trusted with something that belongs to others, who will give something to call your own?
A person can’t make two things first in his life. Either the person will love the one thing and hate the other. Or, he will cling to the one thing and detest the other. You cannot have both God and money as the most important things in your lives.
Ernie was outgoing. He made friends easily. And he made everyone feel comfortable around him. Then Ernie got caught in the middle, between two friends and a loan. All three learned the value of money. And of friendship.
Two of Ernie’s friends, Brandon and Joey, started a business deal. Brandon loaned Joey fifty dollars. To insure Joey repaid the money with interest, Brandon offered Ernie part of the interest. “Joey will owe me sixty dollars when he repays me,” Brandon told Ernie. “I’ll give you five dollars if you make sure he repays me on time.”
Ernie trusted Joey so much, he quickly responded, “Sure!”
Joey borrowed the money. And the day came for Joey to repay Brandon. Wanting the money, Ernie called Joey more than once. “Do you have the money?” Ernie asked Joey.
“When my dad gets home, he will give me the money,” Joey told Ernie.
“Are you sure?” Ernie responded.
“Yes!” Joey said, almost yelling into the phone.
Brandon, of course, called Ernie more than once. “Hey, friend, did you talk to Joey?” Brandon asked Ernie. After the second call, Ernie was getting as frustrated as Joey.
By that evening, all three boys weren’t very friendly to each other. Joey called Ernie with the bad news. “I got the money,” Joey said. “But I can’t go out. Tonight is a school night. My dad said I can give Brandon the money tomorrow.”
When Ernie called Brandon with the bad news, Brandon got furious. “You just lost five dollars!” Brandon yelled into the phone.
“Yeah, but I still have a good friend in Joey,” Ernie said quietly. “That’s worth more than all the money in the world.”
Brandon grew quiet. That night he thought about the money and his friendship with Ernie and Joey. The next morning, when Joey repaid him, Brandon treated both his friends to ice cream. Ernie showed Brandon his friends were more important than the money he made.
Money is important. But friends are more important. Money should never get in the way of friendship. Especially a friendship with God.
Closing Questions: How can you make others more important money? How can you make God more important than money?