(Written by Alan Akers)
I love the story Jesus told about the shrewd manager, perhaps the quirkiest and most controversial of his parables. (He also told a story about a “good” Samaritan! That would have been controversial in its time!) Why would Jesus make a crook the central character in his story? We note the owner didn’t praise the resourceful manager for his dishonesty; he praised the dishonest manager for his resourcefulness! There is a world of difference!
“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.’ – Luke 16:1, 2
The manager then proceeded to “cook the books”, issuing his master’s creditors with invoices for much less than the value of the goods they purchased, thus ensuring their patronage when he lost his job. (You can read the full story in Luke 16:1-12.)
Jesus’ parable reminds me of another old story involving a wealthy businessman. A wealthy business man died, and arrived at the gates of heaven with a heavy suitcase in hand. “What’s in the case?” St Peter asked him. With obvious satisfaction, the businessman flipped open the case. It was filled with gold! “Pavement!” Peter exclaimed. “Why would anyone want to bring pavement up here?”
Let me explain the connection. The story Jesus told highlights two important truths:
- The life we’re living now is strictly limited. It will not last forever.
- Opportunities we have now, if taken, will bring eternal benefits.
There is a common factor – a “medium of exchange” – that links this temporary, passing life to the eternal destiny that awaits us. And it isn’t gold! We can invest our limited, finite assets – principally our time and money – now, in people. People are the one “resource” created for an important role in these two vastly different economies.
Jesus noted, sadly, that “the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” (vs. 8) How well are we managing the assets our heavenly Father has placed in our hands for a limited time? Food for thought!
PRAYER: Father we thank you for the enormous trust you place in us. Forgive us for those times when we treat your resources as our own, and seek to hoard them, or use them selfishly. Teach us what it means to “store our treasure in heaven”. Thank you for the precious people you give us to share our lives with now. Thank you for those we love who have preceded us into your presence. Guide us as we live each day with you. In Jesus, name, AMEN.
Song: “Take My Life and Let It Be” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FBvoRwNyB0