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The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

Luke 16:1-15

When you first read this parable, it seems confusing. Is Jesus really praising a man for being dishonest?

Of course not.

Jesus is praising the steward for looking at his situation and trying to make sure he was settled for the future with either hospitality or another job. The steward knew he was too weak to dig and was ashamed to beg. He decided that lowering the invoices to the debtors would buy their good will. He thought they might forget his previous dealings and feel obligated to help him since he helped them.

There has been some discussion that the costs he was cutting out of their bills was his commission. If that is true, he was decreasing his income for future gain. Jesus calls this shrewdness, because he is “making friends with unrighteous wealth”.  Jesus goes on to say, in verses 8-9, “…For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of the light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings”.

Jesus is using this parable to show that we have a choice. Are we going to rely on God for our earthly needs or are we going to rely on ourselves?

If we rely on ourselves for our earthly needs, we hold on to the gifts that God has given us, including money. If we rely on God, then we will give of the gifts that we have received from God. For as Jesus says in Mt 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

Does this mean that we should not have savings? Again, No.

But don’t put all your trust in your savings or your earning capacity. That would mean you are relying on yourself, not on God. Be willing to be generous to those in need.

Jesus has said in another text that “love of money is the root of all evil”. In this parable Jesus tells us “No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money”.

Offer the person standing on the corner a sandwich. Be willing to put fuel in someone’s car when he or she is in need. Be generous in your giving without your own family being in need.

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What is faith? The first two definitions of the word “faith” in dictionary.com are 1) confidence or trust in a person or thing and 2) belief that is not based on proof.

The Bible has many references to the word “faith”. We see them throughout the Old and New Testaments. There is the faith of the various prophets in the Old Testament. Each of these men and women relied upon God for something. For some it was a son to inherit. For others it was for the needs of daily living. For still others it was health for themselves or a loved one.

Some people put their faith in science and scientists. Not that there is anything wrong in using scientific advances such as medicines and surgical procedures. Engineering advances have given us faster modes of transportation and increased safety in our transportation and housing. But where did these ideas come from? And, is science separate from a faith in God? Can we have a belief in the Triune God as well as a belief in scientific advances?

Faith is really a choice we make. The Holy Spirit nudges us. God calls to us. We have a choice. We can choose to believe, or not. If we believe, God will be there with and for us in all things. We may not see Him or hear Him, but He is there. God will even be there for people who don’t believe. He wants them to come to a belief and faith in Him.

When we have faith in God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, we reap the blessings He bestows on us. He will provide for us as he does the birds, animals, the flowers, trees and plants.

Sometimes our faith is weak. We think we need to “do” something. Many times, when we don’t rely on God for our daily needs, we find ourselves facing a crisis. Sometimes we are tested to see if our faith is strong. That happened to Job. God had blessed him with children and wealth. Job praised God daily for all the good gifts. Satan thought he could turn Job away from God by taking those gifts away. God allowed Satan to attack Job, but not kill him. Instead, Satan killed all Job’s children and took his health and wealth away. Job continued to praise God for all His mercy. Satan lost. God rewarded Job’s faith by giving him more children and rebuilding his wealth.

We have our own times of adversity. A car accident that keeps us from working. Loss of a child or grandchild to death. Loss of a job, or our home. If we cry out to God for his salvation and redemption, He will hear us and give us strength to continue.

God has never told us that following Him would be easy. In fact, Jesus told us in Mt 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Are you one of the many? Or one of the few?

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