Summary: How to use your money to go to heaven

38. Who is Jesus?

May 29th, 2011

Crafty Currency

We are jumping back into our series through the Gospel of Luke, after the storms and craziness I felt it would be nice to get something back to normal. When we left off Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. The religious people who think they are God’s greatest gift since butt warmers on car seats don’t like that Jesus hangs out with lowly sinners.

So Jesus tells some parables, these parables are stories designed to teach valuable life lessons. Jesus tells three parables about the joy of finding something that was lost. Showing the religious people not only the heart of God and His desire to seek the lost but also the initiative God takes to do so.

We are in Luke 16:1. Jesus moves on in His teaching to tell two more parables: one to the disciples, and one to the religious people. The first parable tells of how we can use our money to go to heaven. The second tells of how we can use our money to go to hell.

This is a very confusing parable as it seems like Jesus is encouraging us to be dishonest and to rip each other off. Big business executives start embezzling a bunch of money, robbing from the poor so they buy diamond dentures and platinum shoe laces and Jesus runs up and gives them a high five. It almost reads like these guys who use their position to take advantage of others get praised by God.

Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg—I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ (Lk 16:1-4)

So we have this manager. The manager works for a very wealthy man. He is like a private CPA his job is to manage the household affairs of his master. He was a bookkeeper, like an accountant; who would distribute goods, delivered the paychecks, and keep track of who owed his boss money. This is a high level position and the one that gave him a lot of access to his boss’s accounts. Apparently he was abusing his position. That doesn’t mean he was a thief, more likely the dude was lazy. Showed up to work late, left early, logged plenty of hours of solitaire, built up some rockin’ stuff on Farmville. He is not a great employee. Eventually someone gets tired of watching the manager do nothing and they rat him out. The master of the house calls in a private firm to do an audit and the findings are not good.

If you were trying to sell your house and you found out your realtor wasn’t doing anything to try and show it, they were just waiting around for a sale so they could take a percentage you might respond like the master does. He pulls a Donald Trump: you’re fired! The manager knows he deserves it but now he needs help. He is getting fired for being a lousy employee that will make finding another job difficult as he knows he will not get a recommendation from his boss. Finding another job will be trying to get Lady Ga-Ga to dress appropriately for a music video: unlikely.

Due to the nature of his position his termination wouldn’t be immediate. The master would need time to find a new employee and transfer the books over to him. So our useless manager friend has a few weeks to pack up his desk, finalize his projects, and get out.

“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “ ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’ “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. (Lk 16:5-9)

The manager is a math geek, captain of the chess club. Dude never stepped foot in a weight room or worked in the hot afternoon sun. So he can’t just fall back on a manual labor job because he’s kind of a pansy. So he comes up with a plan, and his plan is pretty clever. He still legally represents and could still act on his boss’s behalf so he brings in a bunch of people who owe his boss money. He brings them in and reduces their bills significantly. The bill was a written document signed by both parties as contract for payment. Once the document was turned back over to the debtor the person was free from their obligation to pay.

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