Master or Mastered?

Jesus tells a story about money and possessions in Luke 16:1-15.  There was a rich man who had a steward who was in charge of his possessions.  The rich man believes that the steward (or manager) is wasting his things.  So he fires the manager, but before he does, he has to bring the rich man up to speed on the books.  The steward is in a pickle.  He’s more of a desk job kind of guy, so manual labor is out of the question.  He’s got too much pride to beg others for housing or food.  So he concocts a plan to get himself some free room and board.  He no longer cares about the rich man or his possessions.  This guy just fired him!  So he calls in two people who owe a great deal to the rich man.  One owes the rich man 900 gallons of olive oil.  That’s a lot of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil for those of you who don’t speak “Rachael Ray”)!  So the unscrupulous manager tells him to cut it in half.  He’s cooking the books to earn favor with the debtors.  Brilliant (although immoral)!  A second guy comes in and he owes 1,000 bushels of wheat.  This is a HUGE amount!  That’s about 30 tons!  How long would that take to harvest?  So the steward tells him to make it 800 bushels.  What a guy!  By saving these two people money, he had hoped to gain friends and earn some favor when he got kicked out of the rich man’s home.
Jesus then gives three points of application of this story.
  1. In verses 8-9, Jesus tells the “people of the light” to use worldly wealth to gain friends for the purpose of building His Kingdom.  We are to use wealth, not be used by it.  We should use these opportunities to create friendships to tell people about Jesus.
  2. In verses 10-12, Jesus says that if His followers are faithful with a little and honest with a little, we will be entrusted with much.
  3. In verse 13, Jesus tells His followers not to be lovers of money.  You cannot love both God and money.  If you are greedy, there is no room in your heart for God.
Jesus uses the bad example of the shrewd manager to show us these three applications of how we should use, and not abuse, wealth.  Let us learn to master our wealth so that our wealth will not be our master.

Luke 16:1-15 (NIV)

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.


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