Summary: The Parable fo the Crooked Manager, though enigmatic calls us to be singleminded for God and His Kingdom

Luke 16:1-13 - Parable of the Crooked Manager: (The Message

1-2Jesus said to his disciples, "There was once a rich man who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses.

So he called him in and said, 'What's this I hear about you? You're fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.'

3-4"The manager said to himself, 'What am I going to do? I've lost my job as manager. I'm not strong enough for a labouring job, and I'm too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I've got a plan. Here's what I'll do . . . then when I'm turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.'

5" So he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'

6"He replied, 'A hundred jugs of olive oil.'

"The manager said, 'Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now— write fifty.


7"To the next he said, 'And you, what do you owe?'

"He answered, 'A hundred sacks of wheat.'

"He said, 'Take your bill, write in eighty.'

8-9"Now here's a surprise:

The master praised the crooked manager! And why?

Because he knew how to look after himself.

Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens.

They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits.

Jesus went on to say:

I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."

10-13Jesus went on to make these comments:

If you're honest in small things,

you'll be honest in big things;

If you're a crook in small things,

you'll be a crook in big things.

If you're not honest in small jobs,

who will put you in charge of the store?

No worker can serve two bosses:

He'll either hate the first and love the second

Or adore the first and despise the second.

You can't serve both God and the Bank.



LUKE 16:1-13 WSMM and TAS 21-09-2013


This is one of the most difficult parables to understand - because at first blush it looks as if Jesus is condoning sharp practices.

On careful reflection however, I don’t think he is.

The story is a bit of an enigma

There are some possible explanations for the Crooked Manager’s actions that Jesus commends.


1. Overlending and reducing to a reasonable debt

A bit like our present banking crisis.

Had the crooked manager been overlending to people and charging too much interest so that the customers had no chance of paying it back?

If so, then what he did made good business sense.

He simply made credible reductions in the bills so that the creditors were more likely to be able to pay off their bills.


2. He took off the Interest

Another explanation was that it may well be that the crooked manager took off the interest that he had been charging.

You see “charging of interest” - USUARY as it is often known - was something expressly forbidden for a Jew to do - to another Jew under Old Testament Law.

So to get round it if one borrowed 400 gallons of olive oil one would sign a repayment note for 800 gallons.

So no interest was charged because 800 gallons was "borrowed"!!


3. He took off his cut in the business

Another theory was that the crooked manager who would have been entitled to a cut in the business.

So he simply wrote off his own cut

But however you look at it – the Crooked Manager was just that – a scoundrel.

His “generosity” to the creditors would never have happened if he hadn’t been caught cooking the books

He was lining his own pockets.

He was not faithful to his master

So what Jesus is admiring is the shrewdness of crooked manager.

He is not commenting on the morality of the man.

The message of this parable is found in Luke 16:13

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.

Or put another way in Mt 6: 19-21

19-20"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. (The Message)

21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)

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