Read Luke 16
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Many things in life can be daunting as Christians. One of the most daunting things is faithfully taking hold of today’s opportunities in effort to prepare for the next life. In Luke 16, we find two parables with two different people that get presented with an opportunity to either think about this life or the next life (or future unemployment). The outcomes are drastically different based on their choices.
In the first parable, the manager gets praised for preparing for his future unemployment. The master wasn’t praising the manager for his selfishness which was obviously guiding his actions. Instead, the master was praising the manager’s preparation for the life to come. Sadly in the second parable, we see a rich man miss out on opportunities to use the resources of the world to prepare for the next life. Instead, the rich man focused on the pursuits of his comfortable life. The anguish of the rich man in hell is a scary reality that many will come to.
Jesus stated that “the sons of this age” (non-believers) are shrewder to the ways of the secular world than are the “sons of light” (believers). As Christians, we sometimes mistakenly think we can compete with nonbelievers towards the goals of nonbelievers (fame, fortune, success) when it’s very obvious that we can’t. We can’t serve two masters! In the pursuit of these, we aren’t pursuing our God. In the passage, the manager acted with a sense of urgency realizing his resources for that stage of life were temporary, and he used everything at his disposal to invest in his next life.
This sense of urgency is lost on a lot of believers today. We quickly forget which “master” we are serving/pursuing. Too often, worldly desires can subtly slide into our subconscious, and our goals in life are transformed by the goals of others we surround ourselves with or with the goals of the world. This is seen with the rich man where he wasn’t violently opposed to Lazarus, but he just simply ignored an opportunity to love and serve God’s will while pursuing his own comforts in life. This happens in today’s time just as it did in the biblical times over and over and over. We are creatures of habit and we really struggle with this sin pattern.
As with the manager preparing for his next life, we cannot forget this sense of urgency that should be present in our lives! No one wants to find themselves at the time of judgment depicted in Matthew 25:31-46, realizing we didn’t use the resources available to us to further God’s kingdom. It’s imperative to always be aware of which “master” we are pursuing!
- What worldly gods do you find yourself pursuing?
- How do you daily refocus your thoughts on pursuing the true God?
- As with the rich man, do you have any family (or friends) that you wish to share the Gospel with? Pray for the words to say and how to approach the situation. If you need help, speak to a life group member, mentor, or another believer.
Did You Know?
This passage very purposefully uses the Greek word “Mammon.” According to the Macarthur bible handbook, “Mammon: Greek mamōnas-16:9, 11, 13- literally, “wealth,” “money,” or “property.” In Luke 16, this word is used for “riches.” Mammon is also considered an idol or god of the human heart that is in conflict with the true God. The Bible proclaims it is impossible to serve this god of the world and the true God at the same time.”
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