In Luke 16, Jesus tells a very strange parable. It’s a story about a shrewd property and funds manager who is about to be fired. As he was too proud to beg and not strong enough to do menial labor, he devised a plan. First, he invited over all those who owed his Master money and asked them how much each of them owed. After they told him, he greatly reduced the amount in the official accounts ledger. This way, after he was fired, the manager knew people who both liked him and owed him a favor.
This parable is nuts! It sounds like a scheme from the TV show “White Collar” or a plotline from the “GodFather.” As if it couldn’t get any stranger, Jesus goes on to tell us that when the Owner and Master found out about what the sneaky manager did, He praised the sneaky man because he was so shrewd!
This story can be very confusing. It’s confusing because we sometimes like to take very simple lessons and twist them into directions that suit what we already hope to discover. However, like much of what Jesus said, whilst on this earth, it is simpler when you could to take what He is saying at face value.
After this parable, in verse 9, Jesus goes on to say, “Use worldly wealth to gain friends, so that when it is gone you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
He goes on to challenge us, regarding wealth and having access to money, that if we can’t be trusted with earthly monies, then how can we be trusted with heavenly wealth. This all culminates with the famous verse about needing to choose to serve either God or money.
Firstly, money is good! Often if you don’t have money, you can’t obey what it is Jesus is directing you to do. The choices you make every day… Will you nickel and dime your friends when you go to coffee, or buy lunch? Will you help that woman ahead of you buying groceries with loose change? Will you use the last of your money to have friends over because they need your love and encouragement more than you need that last bit of cash? Can you give those appliances away or the old car to a family who needs it…or do you need to make money out of the deal?
Secondly, I do not believe doing any of the above has anything to do with the size of your bank account. Rather, it has to do with how flexible it is. Let’s not forget that again in Luke 16 (19-31), Jesus tells of a man who stockpiled a ton of extra grain, so he could live in luxury and yet that night, the man died. In the vernacular, Jesus’ observation was, “That was stupid!”
If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, then He has the right to demand that we give away anything in our possession, because it is actually His!
We will be held accountable. All the money I wasted on “retail therapy” and the money I refused to give to those in need will come back to haunt me when this time comes. I’ll still be in heaven, my salvation is secure…but my reward, that’s up to me! Will my kids see me as a generous reflection of Christ or a stingy reincarnation of Scrooge McDuck? Will I be a new creation…being [not] wise in my own eyes, fearing God…above anything else…or will I buckle down and hold some money back just in case, as Ananias and Sapphira did?
This is real life, tough, gospel living that challenges us every day to choose where we will invest that day… Will we invest in ourselves for the future, whilst here on this earth, or in heaven for our future in eternity?