This is a perplexing parable that speaks about the link between this present life and eternity (Luke 16:1-13)
In my previous post “Jesus, You said what?” I encouraged us to not be put off by perplexing, difficult or challenging passages but to be drawn in by them and to ask questions that help us to hear our Father speaking to us from them.
So let’s ask some questions;
What questions does it address, ask or answer?
This parable speaks to the relationship between this present life and eternity (vs 9&11) and that we will be held accountable for our actions (vs2). We will be held to account, God as the owner cares about how we steward the resources entrusted to us.
Specifically, this parable links our present management or stewardship of God’s resources in this life to eternity (vs9-12). Like this guy – for us there is a time of stewardship (our life) during which we should use wisely the time and resources we have at our disposal, before our term of stewardship is done and they are no longer any use to us.
This parable also speaks about our relationship to money & possessions – we are managers/stewards, not owners. When it comes to money/possessions, we big idea is that in this world we are managers/stewards not owners with regard to money/posessions.
Finally, this parable speaks about our time on earth and that it is finite. There is a day when we will no longer be able to make the decisions we do still get to make still today, before that day that either we die or the day on which Jesus returns.
What tension/mystery does this text create or resolve?
Why does Jesus’ parable ‘honour’ this ignoble manager? Why is a dishonest person being commended?
In what way did this dishonest manager act that is worthy of being called shrewd? He knows that he is about to loose his job, loose control of the wealth he manages for the owner, but he still has this moment in the present while he is still manager and he knows he can act now in ways that will affect his future.
This is what he is commended for, having a future perspective that changed his life now in the present, changed his actions now. In the same way, one thing is certain in every man’s future: his ‘dismissal’ from his present sphere into the unknown regions of eternity. We too are managers/stewards now, we too are wise if we use the possessions under our control for the purpose of affecting the future while we still can.
The tension here is that Jesus can’t be commending the dishonesty in the manager, he is commended surely his forward thinking which affected his present actions, because in contrast to the manager, Jesus’ followers must not be dishonest, must not use the money they steward for God unrighteously, but like the manager they must use their money in such a way that they prepare for their future life, while they still can.
What does this text say about God, myself or others?
God cares about how we utilise the money/resources entrusted to us.
I have a finite period of time here on this earth, after which there will be a time to give account for how I utilised the resources entrusted to me.
What should I do now as a result?
Do I see myself as an owner of my money or as a manager/steward of God’s money?
How can I best use the worldly wealth (be it little or lots!) God has entrusted to me in order to hear God’s ‘well done’ on the day when I give an account?
How can I use what’s been entrusted to me to gain eternal friends for myself in heaven?
Thank you Jesus for this perplexing parable!