Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 9 August 21:
Luke 16:8, 9 — “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are shrewder in dealing with their own generation than the sons of 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.”
The dishonest manager was a steward to his master, responsible for representing the master’s interests and responsible for dealing with those indebted to the master. Jesus’ parable of the dishonest manager is directed at those “sons of light” who are unfaithful, uncommitted representatives of God and “those who justify [them]selves before men” – “God knows [their] hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)
This parable was a real attention getter particularly because the manager (who is commended for his shrewdness) is an unsavory sort, the type that was particularly loathed by the poor crowd listening who had regularly been victimized by such unscrupulous middlemen. Jesus wasn’t commending the manager’s dishonesty but rather his shrewdness and willingness to recognize his perilous situation and change his ways before his judgment came. In this regard, Jesus is saying that the listener should learn a lesson which even the most unrighteous seem to understand.
The main point is that this unjust steward acted shrewdly. He took careful advantage of the opportunity he had to execute a well-devised scheme to secure his future. This is what people do in the sinful world, and some people are really good at it – they cleverly scheme and work very hard to secure their own futures, to build their kingdoms on earth. “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) If only God’s people were as committed to seeking His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven and fulfilling the Great Commandment and Great Commission.
Throughout history, many brilliant people have acquired for themselves massive fortunes through clever schemes and much hard work, often at the expense of others. Jesus is contrasting what the world will do to build unrighteous, temporal, temporary kingdoms on earth with what the “sons of light” won’t do for sake of the Kingdom of God. If only the sons of light were as shrewd and committed as the sons of this world!
- Ephesians 5:16 – [Make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Jesus rebukes his stewards (managers of the Master’s affairs) for showing less concern and commitment for His Kingdom than the unrighteous show for their kingdoms, and He gives them a warning – “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.” What was He saying to them and to us? It is the same message He has been delivery all along –
- Matthew 6:19-21, 24, 33 — 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, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…. No one 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…. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- Matthew 28:18-20 — And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Our “unrighteous wealth,” the things of this broken world, will perish, but God’s Kingdom is eternal. Jesus tells us to use what unrighteous wealth (not that we earned it unethically but that it is part of the world’s corrupt system) we have to invest in the Kingdom, to be good stewards for God with what He has entrusted to us on this earth. We should be far shrewder and have a far greater sense of urgency than the unrighteous do for what is guaranteed to fail.
But how do we “make friends for [ourselves] who will receive [us] into the eternal dwellings”? Again, Jesus told us – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” The word “steward” is used many times in the Bible in various forms, but if you do a word search, you will notice that, in the Old Testament, it is used to refer to the management of resources, but in the New Testament, it is used to refer to the stewardship of the Gospel message – We are entrusted by the Master with His riches of the Gospel to share with others on His behalf. Our God-given responsibility is the share the Gospel in word and in deed, and Jesus says, we must all show a greater commitment for the Gospel than the richest people on earth show for their temporal estates. How many people will welcome you into Heaven because you personally shared the Gospel with them so they could have eternal life and meet you there? How many?
- 1 Corinthians 4:1 — This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
- 1 Corinthians 4:2 — Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
- Titus 1:7 — For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain….
- 1 Peter 4:10 –As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace….
- 1 Corinthians 9:17 — For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.
- Ephesians 3:2 — …assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you….
- Colossians 1:25 — …of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known….
- 1 Timothy 1:4 — …nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
How shrewd are you willing to be for sake of the Gospel? Do you have a greater sense of urgency for the Gospel than the unrighteous steward in today’s parable had for his own future security? Have you been a righteous steward with the Gospel, or is the Holy Spirit convicting you otherwise with this parable given to you by Jesus?
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 August 21: Today, be shrewd with the Gospel, and find ways to share it with as many people as you can.