Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras
Luke 16 the Dishonest Manager
September 22, 2019
Is Jesus celebrating dishonesty? What is the positive lesson Jesus might draw out of sinful behavior? Let us paraphrase the parable.
The master heard a rumor about his manager that he is dishonest. He made a judgment without having an account on his stewardship. He told his manager “you are no longer be my steward, so give me an account.” The manager is already accused by gossip and condemned. He is done. He is fired on hear saying.
The steward said all I know is to be a manager/an accountant. “I cannot do labor work and I am ashamed to beg.” “I am in a situation of having been accused of fraud. I may just do it because I am already condemned to it.”
He calls debtors in and makes the book matches the accusation fraud. There is no evidence of wasting his master’s goods. So, he makes the evidence fit the accusation. He calls each debtor in and asks “what is your bill? Hundred? Write down 50, write down 80.”
When it comes to gossip. When those debtors go back out into the community and they hear that he has been put out of the stewardship, each one is going to think, “because of me; because of our hidden interaction, he was fired. What I am going to do?”
This manager has an honored claim on each one participated in the fraud. The manager will say, “I am fired because of the favor I did to you.”
What he does, he in involves everyone who has been gossiping in the problem in a way that each one will think,
“I do not want to be exposed as the cause of this problem because everyone knows that the master is my friend or worker in the business. If it comes out, then the master is going to know that I defrauded him.”
The manager silences everyone gossip by involving everyone in the accusation. When he is kicked out, he can just say to the debtor,
“you know, my master kicked me out of my work for fraud. Do you remember that fraud? I do not want what happened to that fraud to come out.” “I need a job.”
Everyone is obliged to take him in his own house to cover him and silence him. This commercial situation is about gossip and accusation of fraud.
That dishonest manager uses his intelligence to figure out a way to manipulate money to secure his future. When the master found out how shrewd his manager was, he praised him.
What Jesus was impressed by? The answer is in verse eight and nine.
Jesus says, “for the children of this age [unbelievers in Christ] are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light” (v. 8). Jesus is saying, “it might be true, you Christians do not know how to be smart in this world affair, but this is insignificant compared to the wisdom I am about to teach you about how to use the money to secure your eternal future.” In other words, maybe you are not shrewd when it comes to the stock market, but who cares. Jesus says, “do you think that is shrewd? Let me tell you the real shrewdness.”
Here it comes verse nine. Jesus says “ And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.” Jesus is telling the disciples not just to secure their earthly future that all what the dishonest manager can do. He hoped to get help when he becomes jobless. This is Jesus’ way of saying, “you need help with your jobless in eternity and I am telling you how to have a place to live, security and joy in fellowship with God’s people forever.”
All the shrewdness of this dishonest manager will come to nothing because it based on wealth that will fail. Jesus shows us the way you use your money to secure your eternity. Jesus says, “Use your money, the unrighteous mammon and wealth.” He means this is part of the unrighteous world in which you live. Take hold of it and use it for eternal and spiritual purposes namely to help the poor. In this way, you secure eternal place with friends in heaven.
Jesus’ statement triggers Luke 12:33 “Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Making friends with money means using your money to meet people’s needs. That is the way you lay up treasures in heaven that does not fail. Some of these people will believe in Christ and go before you into heaven and welcome you in great joy to join them in eternity.
Do not worry about being a shrewd investor in this age where you only can provide a future that will fail. Instead, be a really shrewd investor in people’s lives by using your resources to do as much good as you can for the glory of God and the eternal good of others who will go before you into heaven and welcome you into an eternal home.