How can Jesus use a parable about such dishonest business man? We may read this and wonder about this. Think about this for a moment. We wouldn’t want a man who cut the growth of our wealth to gain personal favor working for us. Most of us would be preparing litigation to sue this shrewd man for cutting people’s bills so that they would like him, while creating a loss on our books.
Yet, in the story Jesus says the owner of the company “commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly” (vs. 8).
Shrewdly really means wisely in the circumstance he was in. The owner may not have been happy about losing money, but he couldn’t deny the fast thinking of the man who was soon to lose his job. Instead of putting his head down the man made a plan to set himself up for the future. This is what the owner saw as good business, even if it was dishonest.
Jesus then turns this radical example around, to those of us pursuing a holy and righteous life. He says, “I tell you, to use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (v.9). Is Jesus promoting dishonesty in dealing with others? No, but he is promoting the idea that we are to use our heads with all the things that we have in this life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Proverbs 9:10). This means that God wants us to use all that we have in the same wise way that He would use them.
Everything that God does is to show His Love into the world. It is to attract people back into a right and eternal relationship with himself. Since God is the provider of all things, the wisest use of all that we have is not to build kingdoms here on earth, but to build up the eternal Kingdom of God. This means we may have to think outside the box in how we deal with other, and how we use our homes, cars, and wealth. The world may look on and think that we are crazy, or that we make poor investments; after all to give most of our wealth away to help those in need doesn’t give us any real return. Jesus reminds us that the return is not in this life time, but in the eternal Kingdom of God.
In some sense this parable is saying, if for no other reason than to receive good blessing in eternity think about how you live your life today. Think about how you are using the good things that God has given to you.
James reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Since all that we have is God’s anyway our greatest investments are not in what we gain in this life, but in how we share God’s love with others. In the previous writing we were reminded that God will one day judge how we used his gifts of love, mercy, and every blessing. How have we invested all that God has given us? Are we more worried about our personal bottom line, or the expansion of Kingdom of God? Are we more concerned for our comfort, or for those who may not have hope living right beside us in this life today?
May God bless your journey with Jesus today,