An Honest Lesson From a Dishonest Man
Jesus tells a story about a dishonest man. His application of the story is unexpected. According to Jesus, we need to be more like the dishonest man.
"There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 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.' 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. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' He said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then he said to another . . . 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. 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.Luke 16:1-9
Called to be Shady?
Is Jesus calling us to be shady? Not at all. Jesus is not commending the man's dishonesty, but his shrewdness.
Shrewd is the power of perception. It is the ability to assess a situation, take full advantage of what's available, and bring about the desired end.
The dishonest manager was keenly aware of three factors at play in his situation.
- The situation would change dramatically when the master called his servant into account.
- Even though his finances were about to fail, he could do something in the current situation to impact his next one.
- He needed to make urgent, calculated decisions that would bring about his desired end.
Jesus was not commending the man for his dishonesty. Jesus was helping us avoid the stupidity of living for this world instead of the next one.
- When OUR MASTER returns, the situation WILL change.
- We need money now, but it is doomed to fail. As they say, "You can't take it with you." And while greenback may work in America, it's not the currency of the Kingdom. Jesus continually calls us to leverage our resources to bring people into the Kingdom rather than trying to own things we cannot possibly keep.
- Our decisions matter. This world is not eternal, but we are. Jesus is calling us to be shrewd. We need to think ahead. We need to assess the current situation and use our resources to bring about an eternal end.
It's an honest lesson from a dishonest man. People who live for this world know how to work it. How much more should Jesus' disciples, who have the eternal truth, be able to perceive the reality of our situation, take full advantage of its resources that are doomed to fail, and bring about HIS desired eternal end?
Don't be shady. Be shrewd!
Bible Study and Challenge
Read Matthew 6:19-21.
- What are the commands in the passage? Obey them.
- What does Jesus mean by "treasures in heaven?" You may want to look up what the Bible says about eternal or heavenly rewards.
- According to the passage, what is the folly of putting too much importance on acquiring wealth and material possessions in this life?
Take something you own and give it to someone who needs it more than you. Turn what you treasured on earth into a treasure in Heaven.