Summary: Jesus takes a quite different tack in challenging us with how much intention and wisdom we really do or do not apply to how our present actions impact our much greater and more important future. To make His point strong and penetrating, Jesus gives an ex
A MANAGER’S ACCOUNTING
Series: First Fruits, Fresh Spirit
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, Sun. November 23, 2008 AM
Most of us are very familiar with and have heard or read much about Jesus’ Parables of the Lost Sheep, Coin, and Son as recorded in Luke 15 as well as that of The Rich Man and Lazarus in the latter half of Luke 16. What many do not realize, however, is that all of these parables are presented together in one intentional, continual and connecting ’flow.’ What is also frequently missing is familiarity and teaching on the parable Jesus told in between the Prodigal Son and The Rich Man and Lazarus.
ALL of these parables follow Jesus’ exhortation in Luke 14:25-34 about the necessary ’COST’ of following Jesus. In the parable of The Lost Sheep, He addresses the cost of criticism from within the religious community when we choose to rescue sinners rather than pamper the saved. In the parable of The Lost Coin, He reiterates this with a focus on being willing to go all out at every opportunity of claiming a valued soul for Jesus, no matter how many you may already have found. In the Parable of the Lost (Prodigal) Son, Jesus spins a much lengthier parable to remind His listeners of the costs of how we view and use our lives. The father reiterates the attitudes of the shepherd and woman in the previous two parables. The “lost son” painfully discovers the price of living out a philosophy that life and all we may have in it simply exist to be wasted. The “older brother,” the true main character in this parable, demonstrates the common but equally tragic philosophy that life and all we may have in it exist for us to fulfill the world’s expectations. He does so faithfully and well, but at the cost of really living, experiencing joy, and seeing or preparing for anything other than the obvious and expected that lies clearly in front of him.
In His next, often neglected parable, Jesus takes a quite different tack in challenging us with how much intention and wisdom we really do or do not apply to how our present actions impact our much greater and more important future. To make His point strong and penetrating, Jesus gives an example of how even an unethical, greedy and sinful business manager often understands and practices this principle of investing more and better than the redeemed who have far more access to the knowledge, perspective and power that should guide us to be investors.
SCRIPTURE: LUKE 16:1-15
I. A CONFRONTATION WITH REALITY (vv. 1-2)
Background: The rich man was likely the owner of a large estate of land. The manager was responsible for the entirety of this business enterprise. The main, and possibly sole, source of income from the estate was through renting out lots to others.
Immediately in this parable, the manager (or steward) is confronted with a reality that he had worked hard to ignore: that he was ONLY a steward! While he had much that he treated as his own, the truth was that he owned NOTHING. Everything he had – possessions, position, influence, power, security – were really owned by his Master and he was given only the privilege of managing those things for his Master. In return, his Master compensated him very well and with many perks – along with an expectation that he would be an honest and faithful steward.
This reality check came as a result of the Master checking up on His steward and expecting an accounting of how he has managed the Master’s estate.
Whether through reckless expenditures, poor maintenance, dishonest accounting or – most likely – some combination of all of these the manager had NOT been faithful and loyal to His Master. Instead, he put his own interests and greed above the interests of his Master.
Just imagine this person managing YOUR business like this!
What this Owner did was fire the unfaithful steward and demand a full record and accounting of his books in a stated time. Sounds more than fair and proper to me!
II. AN ASSESSMENT WITH SELF (v. 3-4)
In these next verses, we are given a window into the dishonest manager’s assessment of himself.
Notice, first, that in accepting his circumstances he acknowledges his guilt. Rather than dwell on this, however, he immediately begins to reflect on what to do now.
Second, he admits to himself that he does not have what it takes to be a manual laborer (the most obvious and available option open to him).
Next, he reiterates his own prideful abhorrence toward seeking or accepting help from others.
By the way, I find it quite interesting that he considers himself above begging but has no qualms about lying and stealing. I wonder how many of us may be like that?