Today in God’s Word
Exodus 13; Luke 16
The sixteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel begins with what is often called the Parable of the Dishonest Manager. Today, people often employ a stockbroker or investment advisor to give counsel and make recommendations for decision-making about investing for retirement. Also, people with considerable riches may hire a specialist to aid them in wealth management of both a short-term and long-term investment portfolio. In ancient times, a rich man would frequently hire an administrator to oversee all the business matters in his estate. We see an Old Testament example of this in Genesis 39:1-6 when Potiphar made Joseph the manger of his all his household affairs.
Unlike Joseph, the rich man’s manger in the parable of Luke 16 was not faithful in his stewardship duties. Someone brought a charge to the wealthy landowner, of the manager’s financial mismanagement. The rich man called for a full accounting of all his resources and confronted his manager with poor performance and decided to fire him from his position. Faced with the prospect of unemployment and poverty, the manager takes action to cleverly recover a portion of the debts owed to the rich man in a manner akin to some forms of a bankruptcy plan today.
We should use our wealth for advancing God’s Kingdom work.
Most likely that the story in the parable stops in the middle of Luke 16:8 so that it is the rich man—not God—praising the manger’s astuteness in this matter of financial recovery. In the latter part of verse eight, Jesus begins to explain the implications of the parable. First, those apart from the kingdom of God are often more shrewd and persistent in temporal riches than followers of Christ do with eternal riches. As followers of Christ, we should use our wealth and resources to win friends forever—as they believe the gospel and come into God’s kingdom Luke 16:8-9.
We should be faithful in all that we have been entrusted.
A second implication of the story is that we are called to be faithful to the Lord in everything that he has given us. In addition to our money, every follower of Christ has been given spiritual gifts of which we are stewards or managers and we all have 168 hours each week that we decide how to use. We are accountable to God in the use of these gifts and our time. We must not be like the man in Matthew 25:14-30 who was entrusted with a single talent, but did nothing but bury it in the ground for “safe keeping.” Jesus teaches us in Luke 16:10-12 that until we can me trusted when tested as stewards of “a little” we will not be entrusted as stewards of “much.” That means that our spiritual growth and usefulness is stymied. Our kingdom effectiveness is obstructed by our own unfaithfulness in seemingly small things—which are actually monumental things that God uses to test and develop us in stewardship of our gifts and resources.
We can’t have it two ways when it come to our full allegiance.
To amplify his call to faithfulness in small things that are really big things, Jesus challenged the hearers in Luke 16:13 with the threat and temptation that the love of money is to following him (cf. Matthew 6:24). It’s been said by pastors, theologians and philosophers through the years that “money is a good servant and a bad master.” That truth was given by this teaching by Jesus in this parable. Our money, wealth and possessions are gifts from God and should be used as directed by his word and by the leading of the Holy Spirit. And in the future, God will have us to give an accounting to him for our faithfulness.
So, what’s our response to this parable? Some questions that each of us should ask of ourselves in this regard include:
- Am I faithful in the small, seemingly less significant things, of the Christian life?
- Am I using my finances, talents and time to invest for God’s kingdom purposes through his Church and in getting the gospel to others?
- Do I worry about money more or less than I am concerned about serving God?
- Does my spending reflect that I am a slave to God or a slave to money?
- If my life needs a spiritual adjustment in this area of loyalty and stewardship to God, what changes should I make that will align my priorities with God’s priorities?
God is faithful and he will help us to be more faithful.
Soli Deo Gloria!