Summary: Jesus is telling us to use our money to help people, and to gain their friendships. And when our money is all gone, we will be left with eternal riches and our friends at our side in Heaven because they came to believe because of our good gifts.
A STORY ABOUT MONEY... KEEP THE CHANGE
INTRODUCTION... Bark worse than the Bite, Campus Life, December 1980, p. 19
What is the most outrageous thing you would do for $10,000 cash? That’s the question posed by Chicago radio station WKOX, which attracted responses from more than 6,000 full-tilt crazies. The eventual winner: Jay Gwaltney of Zionsville, Indiana, who consumed an 11-foot birch sapling—leaves, roots, bark and all. For the event, he donned a tux and dined at a table set elegantly with china, sterling, candles and a rose vase.Armed with pruning sheers, the Indiana State University sophomore began chomping from the top of the tree and worked his way, branch by branch, to the roots. His only condiment: French dressing for the massive birch-leaf salad.The culinary feat took 18 hours over a period of three days. When it was all over, Gwaltney complained of an upset stomach. Evidently the bark was worse than his bite.
I. THE SITUATION
I think that this story that we’ll look at today is one of those that Jesus told to make a very specific point. In fact, I do not think that Jesus made this story up. I think Jesus was telling His disciples about some events that happened between a rich man and his manager. He did this to help drive His point about money home. It would almost have to be a real story because in the story, the rich man commends the manager for being dishonest. We know that is not something Jesus would include in one of His own stories, but He is using this story for a specific purpose.
The story centers on a manager in the services of a rich man. When I read this story, I always think of Joseph in Potiphar’s house in the Old Testament. Joseph was the manager of the household and servants and businesses. It was the same with this fellow. This man was #2 over the estate of the rich man. It was the area of finance that got him into trouble... he faced an audit... and lost his job.
The man is scared out of his mind! There is no help for him once he’s gone. There is no welfare or unemployment line. Once he is fired, he’s on his own. He thinks of a plan to help himself. He calls in several men who owe the rich master and reduces their debt, making himself some good friends in the process. These people will surely take him in when he hits the streets! He does this debt reduction to make friends. The master realizes what this man has done and commends him for being shrewd. The manager had prepared places for himself to go.
II. THE COMPLICATION
The complication and the problem is that we don’t understand what this parable means. What does this parable mean for is and our money? What does Jesus mean in verse 9 when He says, “use worldly wealth to gain friends”? That doesn’t sound like Jesus! What is the point of the parable?
III. THE RESOLUTION
The key to the whole parable lies in verse 9, though this verse does cause us problems because it seems like bad advice and doesn’t sound like Jesus. In looking at this parable, if we can determine what Jesus means in verse 9, then the rest of the parable will fall into place.