Summary: how to use the things of this world to the glory of God’s Kingdom
October 7, 2001 Luke 16:1-13
1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 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.’
3 “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— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 ”‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’ 7 “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.’ 8 “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. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, (they will welcome you) into eternal dwellings.
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13 “No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.”
Two ten speed bikes take up ten square feet in my garage. When the metal glistened in the local Pamida and the sale price caught my attention, I envisioned my wife and I riding these bikes, with our kids hooked onto the carrier, on a regular basis. Little did I realize that carrying seventy pounds worth of kids around would be so tiring. And so two ten speed bikes take up ten square feet in my garage. I occasionally move them from here to there and back when it’s time to sweep or get the lawnmower. But basically, they waste space. Whether it was a Thigh Master, a Nordic Track, a video game or a cooking utensil, we all have things that haven’t reached their potential.
All of this “stuff”, whether it’s bikes, apple slicers, etc., fits under the topic of what Jesus is talking about. The literal word for Jesus’ topic is “mammon.” It’s kind of a funny sounding word, isn’t it? Mammon - comes from an Aramaic noun which probably derives from root mn - meaning that which one trusts in - is used in Jewish writings for compensation, bribe, and ransom. Jesus used it to denote earthly goods and their materialistic character. Hundreds of years ago many Christians assumed that since Jesus spoke against the love of riches and material possessions, that they should give them all up - don’t have any. But that’s not his point at all in today’s parable. Instead, Jesus says to -
Make the Most of Your Master’s Mammon
Our parable for today begins, “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.’ A rich man had a manager who was accused of “wasting” his possessions. That word literally means to “scatter.”You could imagine him paying too much for the rich man’s palace to be cleaned - using the rich man’s money to pay for extravagant foods - scattering it here and there and writing it all off as a “business expense.” Finally, news got back to the rich man of what the manager was doing with his possessions.
The man realized that his time was short. He had very little time left before he would be without a job and left to fend for himself. He had become accustomed to his easy way of life, and now he was in a conundrum. So what happened? He said, “I KNOW what I’ll do.” He had a plan of attack. And he made some quick and decisive decisions that enabled him to plan for his immediate future, so he wouldn’t be left on the street begging for money. He knew exactly what he had to do so that these people would accept him into their homes. One person would need to have his bill cut in half, while the other would be grateful for just a twenty percent cut. His decisions in the limited time available to him enabled him to be prepared for the future. Even though it was dishonest for him to change the debts, it was thoughtfully planned out - shrewd.