Luke 16:1-13 (ESV)
1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Jesus taught his disciples another parable. This one focuses on a rich man and his manager. The Greek word used here for “manager” describes one who is an overseer or a fiscal agent. According to reports brought to the rich man, the manager was neglecting his duty, and as a result, the rich man fires him and asks him to turn in his books. The manager freaks out. He has a “white collar job” and is not about to descend to hard labor. The manager realizes that he has nowhere to go, so he works to make future employment as conceivable as possible. He devises a plan to protect himself. He goes to his master’s debtors and has them declare what they owe, and then he cuts the debt down by as much as 50% so they would feel obligated to show him a favor as well. Wow! How does he manage to get away with that? The manager probably removes his commission from the debt. This would have created highly favorable circumstances for the manager as the debtors learned that he was releasing them of his personal cut, and it would also explain how the rich man could actually applaud his act. In verse 8, the parable comes to a close. The master praises the manager for his shrewdness. The master is not commending the manager for being dishonest, but instead he states that the manager acted perceptively, which was smart. The rich man compliments the manager for the wisdom he displayed in his forward-thinking.
Jesus went on to say that the ungodly think more about what’s around the corner than believers usually do. How odd! Christians should certainly consider their future more than non-Christians. Jesus challenges us to use our money to make friends, as God rewards us when we are kind to others, and our faithfulness in the “small” things leads him to entrusting us with “bigger” things. We are all called to use our wealth to glorify God and not ourselves. Sadly, the more people selfishly accumulate in this life, the less they will accumulate property of true, lasting value. Service to God, according to this passage, means being generous with our resources. Every decision today holds potential for reward tomorrow. Pray that God would help you be as bold as the manager in looking out for your future. Let’s view our choices in this life through the lens of blessing they will bring in the life to come.