Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Luke 16:1-13
The parable is a Jesus’ gentle way to say that we have to deal with life as it is. One must not be anxious about earning and saving, but trustworthy service and spending.
In the parable a rich man called his manager to give an account of his dealings. The rich man had heard that the manager was not handling the wealthy owner’s finances wisely. In Jesus’ day managers were always hired by wealthy people to care for the finances of their estates. Such a manager would be comparable to a modern-day financial planner or trustee who controls the finances of an estate for the purpose of making more money for that estate. The money did not belong to the manager but was his to use for the estate. Apparently the manager was wasting those goods.
The rich man viewed his manager as irresponsible rather than dishonest (16:2). The manager was fired. But then, in order to make friends, the ex-manager charged the rich man’s two debtors less than what they actually owed. When the rich man heard what he had done, he commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. The dishonest manager had not done a good thing. But he had been careful to plan ahead, using material things to insure a secure future.
16:8b-13. In three ways Jesus applied the parable. First, one should use money to win people in to the Kingdom. When we build good relationships with other people, we come to have a good relationship with God. Wise utilization of wealth would help to lead others to believe the message of the Kingdom and bring them to accept that message.
Jesus’ second application is in verses 10-12. If one is faithful in his use of money, then he can be trusted with greater things. True riches seem to refer to the kingdom’s spiritual riches of which we will partake.
The third application Jesus drew from the parable was that a person cannot serve both God and money (v.13). Love for money will drive one away from God (1 Tim.6:10); conversely, loving God will cause one not to make money his primary concern in life. The point of this passage is in the commendation of the dishonest manager, not for the moral quality of his behaviour, but for his worldly prudence in using the things of this life to ensure his future in this life. We should behave with prudence to ensure our eternal future.
Rev. Lopa Mudra Mistry, Church of North India
Loving God, I pray that I might not stay with what can cause endless discussion and argument but might be invited, with Jesus, to go deeper and to find wisdom. Amen.