16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 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.’ 3 “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— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘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.’ 7 “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.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “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. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “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.”
Jesus sometimes uses opposites to make a point dramatically, like the dishonest judge in Luke 18:1-8 who reluctantly gives justice (opposite to God) to a widow because she is persistent (which I should learn). This manager is wasteful and dishonest (which I should not copy) but he’s smarter than the “children of light”, so there is something I should be learning from him.
Jesus makes it easier for me. It’s about three relationships: my relationship with money and whether it’s my master; my relationship with people and whether I treat them generously as friends; and it’s about my relationship with God, whether he’s my master and whether he welcomes me as a friend.
This dishonest manager knows who his master is, and he realizes he’s a steward. The oil and the wheat don’t belong to him. They belong to his master and his job is to use them in his master’s interests. And he understands that generosity builds relationships.
Unlike the master in the story, God wants me to be generous with his things. If I’m generous with what he gives me, he will both welcome me as a friend, and he’ll let me be a generous steward with more. But I’m dishonest if I treat what God entrusts to me as though it’s mine, and it’s not safe for him to give me more.
It starts by being clear who my master is. I belong to God … or I belong to something else (such as money). I can’t belong to both. Knowing how to use things in my master God’s interests depends on knowing him: personally knowing his generosity towards me in giving me life, in giving Jesus, in giving his Spirit, in giving me a place in his family … and in giving me things in this world (money, time, skills, a home and so much more). As I love him more, as I’m transformed to be more like my father God, I increasingly love to be like him.
Father, I want to grow in faithfulness, like you, and in generosity, like you, and in generous relationships, like you and with you.
Written by David Cornell