Monday, February 26, 2007



Today we come to Luke 16 where Jesus presents another parable. This is a unique one, to be sure, and has stirred up a lot of trouble as people try to understand it. Because of this, this parable has often been ignored. So let’s consider the story and try to determine the key teaching of Jesus. Remember, each parable seems to have one primary point that it is making about the kingdom of God.

Let’s work our way through it.

Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'

The owner of a business has discovered that his manager has not been doing a good job running the business. So, he informs the manager that he will be out of a job shortly and wants an accounting of what has been going on.

"The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg—I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.' "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' "'Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.' "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?'
"'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. "He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.'

NOTE these businessmen he was dealing with were not paupers, but quite wealthy. They were working with large sums of money between them. The manager must have been thinking that if he were to befriend these wealthy businessmen, then when he is out of work he will still have a warm relationship with them for some future dealings. Now, check out the owner’s response to what the manager had done.

"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.

He affirmed the manager for his shrewdness. “That was some good thinking.” He wasn’t praised for being dishonest, but for his shrewdness. His owner knew exactly what he had done. Jesus then applies this story:

For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

Jesus says that followers of the kingdom ought to learn to be as shrewd as those who are in the world. This seems a little strange coming from Jesus. What does He mean to urge His disciples to use worldly wealth to gain friends? He goes on to say, “so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Let’s read on:

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

We know that there are two kinds of wealth—being rich toward God and being rich in yourself. When you use your worldly riches toward kingdom use, you will store up for yourself treasures in heaven—where you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings as Jesus says. So, be shrewd about how you handle your money, your wealth—your stuff. You are the manager and He is the owner.

Now, NOTE the response from the Pharisees: The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight.

The Pharisees have chosen the wrong way to handle their wealth. And NOTE what their problem was. They loved money and used it to justify themselves in the eyes of others. They used their wealth and positioning to look good in order to impress others. Now, it’s important to understand that there is nothing wrong with money. Money is not the problem. It’s how it is valued and how it is used. Money can be used in a compassionate way which is the way of the kingdom of God.

However, when you value money so much to be used for showing off and impressing others, you are misusing the wealth your “owner”, the Creator, has allowed you to manage.
Then Jesus makes a very powerful statement: “What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” God knows your heart and what you really value most.

So, pay attention to your heart. You cannot serve two masters, so choose, choose again and re-choose some more. There is one fascinating thing Jesus says here, tying money and God together. He says, “"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

Do you want to be entrusted with the true spiritual riches of the universe? Then, handle your money wisely, shrewdly and compassionately and then it’s all yours to enjoy!