Luke 16:1-9-Jesus tells the disciples a parable about a man who was an employee that managed the financial affairs of another man.
The manager of household or of household affairs… esp. a steward, manager, superintendent (whether free-born or as was usually the case, a freed-man or a slave) to whom the head of the house or proprietor has entrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age.
The employee was doing a poor job of handling his employer’s money. The word “squandering” is the same word that Jesus used in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (15:13), “he squandered his estate”. The Greek word literally means “to scatter” and is used in other passages to speak of a farmer scattering seed (Matthew 25:24) and a herd of sheep being scattered (Mark 14:27). In this context it means that the man was not being diligent, meticulous and attentive to the employers money…it was being scattered because of negligence. The employer told him to prepare to give an account of the finances that he was responsible for managing because he was about to be fired. The employee became very worried. His body was to weak to do manual labor, and his ego was too strong to ask for help. So, he came up with a scheme. The employee went to all of the people who owed his employer money and settled accounts with them for only a fraction of what they actually owed. When the employer found out he told him that he had done a good job at the end…finding a way to get at least part of what was owed back and not losing everything…and, doing something that would provide for his own future. One commentary (Ryrie, :8) says that the employer did not praise him for his dishonesty, but for “using his present to prepare for the future”…which is what the parable is teaching. Jesus then applies the employer’s remark about the employee to people who are going to Heaven, “for the sons of this age (the people of the world that the employee represents) are more shrewd tin relation to their own kind than the sons of light (those that are going to Heaven).“ Verse 9 tells us to use the material things of this world (money, etc.) as a resource, or investment opportunity to prepare for Heaven. What we do with what we have on earth will have an affect upon us in Heaven.
Luke 16:10-13-Jesus tells the disciples that a person who is faithful with a little can be trusted with more; and accordingly, the person who is not faithful with a little can not be trusted with more. The little He is referring to here are the things of this world (“unrighteous mammon”), and the much (“true riches”) are the things of Heaven. The things of this world do not really belong to us, but to God…and they are entrusted to us to manage so that God can determine what we shall be given to truly own in Heaven. The guiding principle is to remember that God is the owner and He determines the value and use of things on earth (:13). You have to determine for yourself that you are going to serve God with the things you have on earth, and to not mis-value the things of earth and wind up serving them, instead. You will serve one or the other, God or the possessions…you cannot serve the both.
Luke 16:14-18-The Pharisees were “scoffing” at Him…they were laughing at Him, ridiculing what He was saying. After all, who did this simple carpenter from Nazareth think He was to lecture them on principles of financial management? Jesus responds to them by saying that they are the ones who don’t understand God’s principles of financial management. Before John the Baptist the Law was in effect, but now that the Good News of the Kingdom has been proclaimed, everyone wants to get in. However, the Good News doesn’t mean that the true purpose of the Law is no longer in effect…sin is still sin, the true purpose of the Law was to point that out…and it still does so. Divorce and remarriage was an act of adultery before John (as the Law declared) and it still is. Jesus says that the Pharisees (:15) have ways that they try to argue themselves around the Law…so that they appear to be good to people (even when they are sinning). And yet, God knows the true condition of their hearts. As in verse 13, they value and serve the things and people of this world…more than God. They are willing to ignore the Law…in order to receive the approval of men.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to value this life from Your perspective. Don’t let me deceive myself. Lord, the things of this world seem so close, so immediate, so real, so tangible…that it is easy to allow them to have an inappropriate value and meaning in my life. Lord, I need to know Your presence with me every moment of the day…so that I don’t become too comfortable, and too familiar with the things of this world…and begin to mis-value them…and begin to live as if this life is all that there is. I get so busy with this life…that I allow it to begin to control me. Their reality can seem more real, and more important…than Yours…because it seems easier to recognize them…I can see them, and touch them, and see the immediate result of what they can do. Help me to always remember the temporary nature of the things of this world…and to value those things that will last forever.