Luke 16

Luke 16
by Pastor Mark Hudson

In this devotional, we will cover 1-13 since it is a rather tricky parable to understand.   Without going into every option or trying to explain every detail, I am confident we can discover the meaning of what Jesus is trying to explain.  The parable is about an owner of land or commodities who is told that his manager is wasting his possessions.  The owner does not fire him on the spot, but tells him he will be fired so bring in the books before you hit the street.

The manager begins to think about his future.  He has had a pretty good job but realizes he does not want to do manual labor and is too proud to beg.  Did he think no one would hire him after word got out?  Why only these two options.  But then he comes up with a crafty, almost brilliant, idea.

Since I may end up homeless, I have a plan to ensure that I will be taken care of.  I will go to each debtor and have them adjust their bill down so I can call on favors when I am out of a job.  His plan works.  The manager goes to all those in debt to the owner and has them write a new IOU.  By getting these debtors to revise their bills, the manager thinks the owner will never hear of it since the debtors won’t tell on themselves.

What is surprising is that the owner is surprisingly admiring of the manager’s ________.   I left that blank because that is the question.  What is the manager commended for?  If you think he approves of the manager’s deceit, it will be hard for you to reconcile that position with the rest of Scripture.   Your interpretation depends on your understanding of the word rendered shrewdness in the ESV.  This word “phronimos” is translated as wise in every occurrence in Matthew (7:24; 10:16; 24:45; 25:2, 4, 8, 9) and Luke 12:42.  Here it is shrewd since this is not a wisdom you want to mimic.  So, what is praiseworthy?  Why was he commended?

The manager was looking toward the future and making decisions that would benefit his future financial well-being.  Jesus is not encouraging us to better financial planning.  Jesus is exhorting us to plan ahead. . . way ahead.  Jesus reminds us that we are eternal beings, and we should not just plan for retirement but for a time when we will be homeless.  The reason we know Jesus points to eternity are these phrases/words: v. 9, “when it (money) fails [when will money fail?  At the end of our lives.];  and eternal dwelling.

We ought to be wise in knowing that we will live forever and use wealth (which has a corrupting influence often – therefore, it is called (unrighteous in v. 9 and 11), to demonstrate that God is our master, and we are investing in the kingdom not in our selfish pursuits.  That money is a theme in these sections look at

9          unrighteous wealth

11         “

11         true riches

13        You cannot serve God and Mammon

14        Pharisees, who were lovers of money

The points seems to be to use money and all our resources: time, skills, spiritual gifts, our homes, our cars, or everything for the Kingdom of God.  But since money is the currency for most transactions it may be that Jesus uses money (or mamon) to refer to the entirety of our lives.  For a believer, idolatry is always lurking, waiting, ready to usurp and  dethrone the God of the universe in the inner man.  Money promises so much.  Money promises all the things we long for.  Money meets our needs.  Money fulfills, satisfies, brings rest. Or does it?

Christ delivers us from such a false god that promises memories, security, satisfaction, and joy.  But no false god can deliver, only promise.  We thank doctors for cutting into our bodies to remove cancer.  They injure us and cause us pain.  For some patients they undergo months of chemotherapy or radiation that comes within inches of killing them.  But those measures must be taken to save some people’s lives.  Christ puts his finger on our idols.  He knows our idols are protected by lies, self-delusion, and every bit of deception our hearts can muster. But, through the Holy Spirit, He maintains or even increases the pressure on us.

You may have convinced yourself that money is not an issue.  Try giving generously and see how you feel about that.  Is your future tied to this life or are you actively thinking, planning, investing in the next life?  Do you think about heaven every day?  Where is your heart?  Are you earth bound?  Is this life all you think about?  Do you know you are so very close to being with Christ?

Someday, if you are not in Christ, one moment you will die and the next you will see, experience, smell,  and taste the most awful experience you can imagine.  Since you are an eternal being, you will know you have made a horrible mistake, the worst mistake anyone can make.  You refused to listen and obey the Creator of the Universe.  What you refused to admit on earth, you will experience in hell: God is just, and God is a God of wrath.

On the other hand, if you know the Lord Jesus, you will die and hear the most beautiful music, see peace and harmony, and experience a joy you only tasted on earth.  You will see the beatific vision of God (which some say will banish sin from your soul forever).  And you will realize that it is all of grace that you are in heaven.  The gospel was all true and you only knew a fraction of it when you lived on earth.

Dear heavenly Father, prepare us for that glorious day.  Holy Spirit, we welcome you to rid us of the sin we cling to and love.  Break down our barriers erected against You so we can delight in You.  Come Lord Jesus .  Sanctify and cleanse us.  We love you. In Christ’s name.  Amen.