The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
1Jesus told his disciples:
was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.
2So 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 begó 4I know
what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their
5"So he called in each one of his
master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'
6" 'Eight hundred gallons of
olive oil,' he replied.
"The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four
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.
9I tell you, use worldly wealth to
gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into
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. 11So
if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you
with true riches? 12And if you have
not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of
13"No servant can serve two
masters. 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 both God and Money."
14The Pharisees, who loved money,
heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.
15He said to them,
"You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes
of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable
in God's sight."
Do Not Allow Money to
You cannot serve
two masters. Either you serve money and lose God or you serve God by mastering
your money and using it for good. Nowhere in the New Testament does a writer
encourage believers to get rich. We shy away from that truth, because just about
all of the forces and influences in the world tell us that money is success,
power, glory. In the Bible, seeking and holding personal wealth is seen as the
biggest obstacle to faith, to salvation. The love of money is the root of all
evil. It's that simple, and that devastating to our normal way of living in the
The problem is not money in itself. The Bible
isn't against money, it's against worshiping money as a god. The Bible isn't
against business, but against hoarding personal riches. There is a big
difference between lusting after money for our own personal luxury and earning
money that may be used as a tool to do good and please God.
This is part of the magic of money, its
fascinating potential. Money is good when it is used for the benefit of others
but is is a force for evil when it is hoarded, used for luxury beyond our basic
needs, or used to gain power in the world for our selfish benefit.
This gives us a whole new understanding of
money and riches. With the bible as our framework, we can learn how to master
money and do God's will. The Old Testament teaches us that the earth is the
Lord's, that resources are to be distributed equitably, that property must serve
the needs of everyone according to their need through our stewardship. The New
Testament emphasizes radical sharing in the community of faith.
The goal, is the kingdom of God.
"Seek first God's kingdom and his justice" (Matthew
6:33). In these words Jesus sums up that whole section of teaching on money. How
then do we put first God's kingdom and his justice? By completely turning around
the problem we began with: make money a servant instead of a master.
Money has such tremendous power and causes
serious temptation, a false god. To set the priorities strait, Jesus brings his
discussion on money and property in Matthew 6 to a fitting climax with these
words, "Set your mind on God's kingdom and his justice
before everything else and all the rest will come to you as well."
Money can be a servant, but it is a dangerous
servant. It is a servant with such amazing power that it requires a master big
enough to control it, or else money may become the master. Here is the real
heart of the problem of personal riches. This is why the whole New Testament
speaks against accumulation of personal riches. Jesus underscored the difficulty
of the rich entering the kingdom, because there's something about money and what
it represents that resists the servant role. Unless the master is truly great
enough to be a master, the demonic power takes over.
It's nearly impossible for one person
alone to be master of money in a Christian way. Our selfish ego is not up to the
task. If we attempt to master money on our own, the demonic qualities of money
will take over and money will become the master.
Only God's kingdom and his justice can be a big
enough to master money. To escape the demonic power of money and riches, we must
understand that the biblical teaching that money and property must serve the
common good and that sharing is the Christian lifestyle. If we can't do this, we
will caught in the money trap.
What does it mean to place all of
our money, not just the portion we give to the church, in the role of servant to
God's kingdom and His justice? How can we use money so that whatever we have is
actually serving the kingdom of God rather than accumulating private wealth?
Material riches, which that lead to spiritual
poverty, must be totally devoted to God's kingdom and his justice, for only in
that way can money become a blessed servant instead of a demonic master.