Luke – Wide Open Doors!
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away in my world, I was a credit collector for a well known “big box store”. I began in credit approval then left the building to go to a secure place to call people about their delinquent bills. This job was a means to an end as Randy and I worked our way through college, with kids, to be teachers some day. The job supported our family but it was not a job I liked. It was depressing, UNTIL I was told I would have authority to negotiate payments with clients. This made all the difference for me in this situation.
“If you cannot pay the whole payment you contracted to owe, let’s work something out.” We would talk it over until we came to agreement of another way to pay off their debt. Both of us were happy and stress was alleviated for both the client and myself. It might take longer to get the debt paid, but the big box company knew that something was better than nothing and defaulting the loan meant repossession of used goods which was a last resort due to expensive paperwork and court costs.
SO, this passage makes sense to me. “The lesson” as Jesus explains, is to use wisdom, resources and everything else you have at your disposal to benefit and help others. As a more caring credit collector, I learned quickly that a demanding voice with an uncaring attitude would not bring the desired outcome. Prayer, on my part, was key to the desired result in these hard conversations.
Luke 16, New Living Translation
Parable of the Shrewd Manager
16 Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. 2 So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’
3 “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. 4 Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’
5 “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ 6 The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’
7 “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’
8 “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. 9 Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.
10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? 12 And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?
13 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”
14 The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. 15 Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.
16 “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. 17 But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.
18 “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”
Can we use this example to help others who “owe” us?
Can we go to the table and work something out so that relationships can be built versus broken?
What happens when we need help? (What we sow, we reap?)
Will we be helped in the same way we benefited others?
LET’S DIG DEEPER STILL…(With help from Warren Wiersbe)
The Wall Street Journal quoted an anonymous wit who defined money as “an article which may be used as a universal passport to everywhere except heaven, and as a universal provider for everything except happiness.” The writer might have added that money is also a provoker of covetousness and competition, a wonderful servant but a terrible master. The love of money is still “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10 nkjv) and has helped fill our world with corruption and lust (1 Peter 1:4).
When you read Jesus’ sermons and parables, we are struck with the fact that He had a great deal to say about material wealth. He ministered to people who, for the most part, were poor and who thought that acquiring more wealth was the solution to all their problems.
Jesus was not blind to the needs of the poor, and by His example and teaching, He encouraged His followers to share what they had with others. The early church was a fellowship of people who willingly shared their possessions with the less fortunate (Acts 2:44–47; 4:33–37).
In Jesus portrait of the prodigal and the elder brother, He described two opposite philosophies of life. Prior to his repentance, the prodigal WASTED his life, but his elder brother only SPENT his life as a faithful drudge. Both attitudes are wrong, for the Christian approach to life is that we should INVEST our lives for the good of others and the glory of God.
This chapter emphasizes that truth: life is a stewardship, and we must use our God-given opportunities faithfully. One day we must give an account to the Lord of what we have done with all He has given to us, so we had better heed what Jesus says in this chapter about the right and wrong use of wealth.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for this lesson that explains the difference in investing as opposed to merely gathering wealth. Thank you for teaching us to be better stewards of all you have given to us to manage. Teach us still. Thank you for enough to have and to share.
In Jesus Name, Amen