Today’s reading:  Luke 16

Today’s assigned scripture has us in Luke 16. The first half of this text is devoted to the parable of the dishonest manager, sometimes called the parable of the shrewd manager.  I must admit, I’ve struggled with this one a bit.  It just seems like Jesus is promoting self-centered, unethical behavior, but I know that can’t be the message this parable is intended to convey.  Think about the facts of the story – the manager had not been properly managing his master’s resources.  When he was relieved of his responsibilities (fired from his job), he lamented that he didn’t have the strength for physical labor and was far too prideful to beg.  Thus, he devised a scheme to retain the favor of his master’s debtors by reducing their debts.  While this seems like a pretty deceitful tactic, verse 8 tells us the master’s response was positive – The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness (Luke 16:8).  Hmm…what lesson is Jesus communicating to his followers here?

I read through this parable several times, referenced the notes in my study Bible, read a few commentaries, but I still didn’t have complete clarity.  Hmm…what advice do I usually give my children in situations like this?  “Make sure you are using the resources available to you in order to solve your problem.”  Any idea what I did next?  You got it, I called my Dad.  Thanks Fath for your help on this one!

The main point of this parable is stewardship. Merriam Webster defines stewardship as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. This text is about how we should be using the resources currently available to us in beneficial ways.  For the dishonest manager, this guidance is seen in Luke 16:9.  I found greatest clarity in the New Living Translation of this verse.

Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home (Luke 16:9).

Using the resources (particularly money) currently entrusted to us in useful ways benefits others. But remember, God is perfect and complete in every way.  He doesn’t need our money to accomplish his purpose.  The importance of stewardship in the lives of Christfollowers is seen in how it shapes our hearts.  Consider a few ways in which stewardship helps build godly character:

  • Worshipping God with our resources strengthens our relationship of trust with Him.
  • Investing in Kingdom work demonstrates to what our heart is committed.
  • Helping others, especially those who cannot pay us back, demonstrates generosity.
  • Helping others, even those who can pay us back, demonstrates generosity and deepens friendship.
  • Investing in Kingdom work and helping others anonymously restricts the development of pride.
  • Using resources sacrificially keeps us humble.

Considering Jesus’ words in verse 13, the stakes here are pretty high. With me, will you get on your knees today and ask God to show you tangible ways to better use your resources for his Kingdom?

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:30).