Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 24 - The Shrewd Manager

Luke 16: 1-16

This is a confusing parable. When we read it, we see that the manager is being commended by the rich man (his boss) for being shrewd. This definitely had me confused at first, and on some levels it still does, but I think I can understand somewhat on a simpler level. To fully understand the message Jesus was giving, we’ll have to extend it into tomorrow’s parable; so please view this posting for today as part one of a two part message from Jesus. Let’s look at today’s message.

When we read this parable and the verses that follow, we know that more than just Jesus’ disciples were in the audience. We see that the Pharisees were also listening and becoming offended. With that in mind, we need to ask ourselves what Jesus would have wanted the listener to understand from the parable. Jesus tells of a rich man who has a manager that had been accused of wasting the rich man’s possessions. When the manager was asked to account for his job, he began making deals with all the people who owed the rich man’s money. He was counting on the culture of the day that depended on remembering favors. He lowered the amount they owed, so when he was out of a job, they would provide him hospitality. When the rich man learned of it, he commended the manager for his shrewdness. The rich man was put in an awkward position as a result of the manager’s actions. The people indebted to him were happy with him because they didn’t owe as much, so he couldn’t really go back to them and demand the full amount. He would’ve also looked bad to others for letting go of a manager that everyone liked. Jesus ends the parable by saying, “…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 wordly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

That last little bit had me wondering what Jesus was saying! A little more explanation is given in verse 13 when Jesus tells us, “…You cannot serve both God and Money.” I find it interesting that my Bible capitalized Money, making it a proper noun. Our money should never substitute for our relationship with God. We should be using the money God has given us to help others and grow God’s kingdom. The Pharisees loved their money and it substituted for a right relationship with God. They were not using their money to help others or to help others gain understanding of God. I love the fact that Jesus says about wealth, “when it is gone,” because even if we don’t lose our money here on earth, we cannot take it with us eternally. We are to be using the money we have now wisely and not have our money use us. If our focus is on our wealth, that does become our master. When we serve money, our focus becomes gaining more or maintaining what we have rather than asking how God would like us to use it for Him.

We do need to learn to become shrewd…but not dishonestly. We need to learn to see how God views riches and how He would like us to live. We need to be shrewd in a way to learn how to live for God. My husband and I currently have debt that will take a long time to pay off because when we were younger we were not spending money in a way that pleases God. Please read all of Psalm 49, it has some very strong things to say about what happens when we depend on wealth rather than God. Verse 20 says, “A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.” God is not saying that we cannot have money, but He is saying that our relationship with Him is more valuable than anything earth has to give and we should be sharing that with others.

How can you learned to give God all of you? Are you learning how God wants to use what He has given you?

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