A Walk through the Book of Luke
March 27, 2023
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
“You cannot serve both God and Money.”
There have been times in my life when I have not been a good money manager. I’ve spent money on extravagant items, theme park tickets, and dinners. Unfortunately, many times while I was doing this spending, I was racking up credit card debt.
After years of doing this, it finally caught up to me (us). Twelve years ago, when my wife lost her job and had a stroke, we could no longer come close to making ends meet.
We were in serious debt. Not only did some of the extravagant spending come back to haunt us, but medical bills were mounting up. So finally, we made the decision to declare bankruptcy.
We were just a day or two away from contacting a bankruptcy attorney when I mentioned our financial situation to a friend.
To make a long story short, the very next day, I was contacted by an acquaintance about our situation. This person and several others paid off almost all of our debt.
Since that time, we have never looked back. I only have one credit card with less than a hundred-dollar balance. We have money in savings and retirement funds. My wife and I live a very comfortable, not extravagant, retirement.
In today’s parable, Jesus is once again discussing money management.
Over the last two days, we’ve seen a woman who diligently looked for her lost coin and a prodigal son who was wasteful with his money.
Let’s take a look at today’s parable and Jesus’ word on being trustworthy.
“Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 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.’
“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—I know what I’ll do so that when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So, he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘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.’
“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.’
“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. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
“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. So, if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
“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.” Luke 16: 1-13
Today’s parable talks about a dishonest manager who is about to be fired for mismanaging his wealthy employers’ wealth. The manager may remind you of the prodigal son who was also very free with money that wasn’t his.
The parable is an encouragement to Jesus’s disciples, who He addresses this parable, to make good use of their money. Jesus comes right out and uses the gist of the rich man’s words. Jesus’ point is that the people of this world are better at handling money than His own followers.
Jesus wants His disciples, including you and me, to use our money wisely.
“The point is this; use money wisely to insure your future. One wise use for money is giving to the poor. The giving of alms is a testimony to the reality of discipleship and self-denial.” (People’s Bible Commentary, Luke, Victor H. Prange, Pp.181.)
The wealth, money, and goods we are given to use while we are alive pale in comparison to the riches we will one day receive in heaven.
Jesus concludes this section of today’s reading with a familiar proclamation:
“You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Each day we have a decision to make, choose the path of temporal things (of this earth) or the path God’s Holy Spirit has set us on.
We can’t serve both!