Jesus liked to tell stories, and they all had meaning. But sometimes it is hard to understand His train of thought. From the story of the prodigal son, He jumped to talk about a dishonest manager (Luke 16). How do these connect?
How would you respond to a dishonest employee? This manager got sacked! Well, once you have the order to clear out your office, then what? The manager realized that he was too young to retire. He was not strong enough to dig ditches and too proud to beg. So…he gathered all of his master’s debtors together. Hey, here’s a discount. Take it down to fifty percent. The master commended his smarts – this dishonest manager knew how to make money work for him, and get into a position where he would have friends.
Jesus says we should do the same. How do we use money of today to influence people for eternity? If you’re faithful now, you’ll be faithful later. But if you cannot handle money here and now in this earth, how will you treat the heavenly valuables to come? You can only serve one: God or money.
The Pharisees heard all this. They were lovers of money. This sounds a lot like the beginning of chapter 15 as they questioned Jesus over His decision to spend time with “tax collectors and sinners.” Was Jesus making friends on earth with a focus on having eternal friendships? But how does this story fit with the sheep and coins and prodigal son?
Know what is valuable.
In the story of the prodigal son, what was the older brother concerned about? Money. He was angry at his dad. That twerp spent all his inheritance already, and now you’re welcoming him back. He’s a disgrace! What about my party? My friends? (My reputation? My inheritance?)
“8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”
Who would be a good example of “shrewd”? In the movie Zootopia, Nick the fox seemed like a patient dad when Officer Judy Hopps first met him…after some suspicious activity, she discovered that he was out to make a profit by shady means. But his street smarts came in handy when she needed to find an elusive missing animal.
Shrewd. Looking ahead to be one step in front of the situation. How far ahead do you look?
God, driver’s training taught us to look far ahead of the car. I feel like my eyes are locked ten feet in front of my proverbial steering wheel. Thank You for this lesson in being shrewd, looking ahead to the future, and evaluating what has lasting value. Please help me to learn this lesson in my life (where does that need to happen?). To You be the glory, Amen.