Slaves, obey your masters on earth in everything. Don’t just obey like people pleasers when they are watching. Instead, obey with the single motivation of fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ. But evildoers will receive their reward for their evil actions. There is no discrimination.
Jesus also said to the disciples, “A certain rich man heard that his household manager was wasting his estate. He called the manager in and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give me a report of your administration because you can no longer serve as my manager.’ “The household manager said to himself, What will I do now that my master is firing me as his manager? I’m not strong enough to dig and too proud to beg. I know what I’ll do so that, when I am removed from my management position, people will welcome me into their houses.
“One by one, the manager sent for each person who owed his master money. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil.’ The manager said to him, ‘Take your contract, sit down quickly, and write four hundred fifty gallons.’ Then the manager said to another, ‘How much do you owe?’ He said, ‘One thousand bushels of wheat.’ He said, ‘Take your contract and write eight hundred.’ “The master commended the dishonest manager because he acted cleverly. People who belong to this world are more clever in dealing with their peers than are people who belong to the light.
Pastors avoid this section of the Bible like the plague. Why does the master commend the dishonest household manager for giving away 500 gallons of olive oil and two hundred bushels of wheat that belongs to the master? If we focus on that alone then we can only come to the same conclusion that Julian the heretic did in the 4th century. Julian said that Jesus was instructing us to be clever, dishonest scoundrels in the world. That is what happens when we focus on the manager. Since I have asked you during this sermon series “who are you in this story”, who wants to be like the dishonest manager? Anybody?
Who wants to be like the rich man? The rich man heard from others in the village that his manager was wasting his estate, dishonest. He approaches the manager and says give me a report on the books, you’re fired. Think about this. The rich man didn’t immediately ask for the books. The rich man did not get the local authorities together and arrest him on the spot and throw him into prison either. Those actions would have been customary and normal. That’s what we would do, wouldn’t we? That’s what the law of the world dictates.
Therefore was the rich man dumb? I doubt it or he wouldn’t be rich in those times. What you might have never seen in this scripture is the grace that the rich man exhibits. I am guessing that you now have figured out that the rich man is God. Do you see how this applies to your life? God knows that your books may not be in order, no let me say that differently, all of the things that God has given on loan to you to manage for Him are possibly not in order. Can’t we all sit here today and see that some part our books in our life are not in order?
What does your accounting for God look like? Prayer time. Bible reading and study time. Regular worship time. Verbally witnessing to others time. Living each moment glorifying and giving God all the glory time. Volunteering for God and for church time. Tithing time. Sharing with others time. Jesus asks you today……how does your personal accounting books look? By His grace alone and by looking at this parable we find that by His grace we have been given “some” time to get a report together for Him. By His grace alone He has not arrested us and thrown us into debtors prison. If an accounting of our books were taken today, would we deserve debtors prison or in essence hell? Have we allowed our life to slip into a state where we say we believe in God, but our accounting shows that we don’t live like it?
It is interesting to note that the firing does not have a response at all from the manager. He knows that he has been caught. If he argues, it would be of no use, he might have to immediately give the books over. the dishonest manager figures out that he might still have time. Caught in his guilt he develops a plan where instead of confessing and repenting to the rich man, he will instead find a way to live more out in the world.
He in essence decides to rob his master even more. The dishonest manager with cooked sinful books, sins more. He missed the opportunity to repent and change. Getting back to when you were looking at your accounting, this parable asks you “what you gonna do?” Sin more or stop and confess and repent and change the course in your life. If you want to sin more, don’t worry the people of the world will help you just like the debtors who gladly lowered their debt to the rich man. The world is always there if that is your choice.
Now what does this scripture mean? “The master commended the dishonest manager because he acted cleverly.” The clever manager put together his plan and IMMEDIATELY went and COMMITTED to doing the plan before he went to the master and gave his books back. This manager wasted no time, he knew the end was near, and he cleverly got the job done. Then our scripture says “People who belong to this world are more clever in dealing with their peers than are people who belong to the light.” Which of these two statements belong to you?
1. I know that on any day my life might end. I pray for those around me that do not know Christ, but I seldom if ever speak to them. I don’t know what to say. I sometimes live a witnessing holy life, but I still have things I know that are sinful and I don’t want to change them. God knows I’m not perfect, but I’ve been saved. I’d love to volunteer more but I don’t have the time. I’d love to tithe, but there is nothing left after I have paid for my wants, not needs. After all God, what’s the rush, everything is in your time.
Or 2. I know that God’s plan for me on earth is to recognize that I must commit to and immediately witness to others with my voice and my life. I must make every effort through God’s help, to increase my holiness. I must immediately make time for doing more things for God. I must decrease my “wants” list and recognize that if I do that I can get to tithing with a joyful heart.
The cleverness and immediate action was commended. Folks how clever are you for Jesus and the kingdom? Is your energy directed immediately to world advancement or kingdom advancement? What examples can you think of?
Direct TV will give you $100 if you bring a customer to them. God wants you to witness to others and tell them the Good News and even go and pick up and bring people to church so they can hear the Word. God will say when you get to heaven, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Instead, maybe God needs to offer you $100 per person.
If you barely make ends meet in order to satisfy your wants, will you work overtime? Most people will. If God needs some of your time in kingdom activities, will you work overtime for Him? Should we pay volunteers $15 per hour? Then I bet we would get more. If you need a job, wouldn’t you develop a plan and immediately commit to it and carry it out? You would make the plan as clever as you can. Sharpen your resume, know all the answers on an application, speak to your circle of friends for openings, diligently search the internet, drive and ask for a job at business after business. Do you expend, commit, and execute in the same way for the kingdom?
It is time to finish out our Gospel scripture today.
“I tell you, use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves so that when it’s gone, you will be welcomed into the eternal homes. Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much. If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? If you haven’t been faithful with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? No household servant can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Many pastors use this for their annual tithing / money sermon. In the whole context when Jesus commands you to “use worldly wealth to make friends” it is more than that money. Jesus wants us to use everything to make friends for God: our neighborhood, our job, our recreational places, the whole of our life. All of our time. So let us summarize what we have learnt from this parable. The Master, God, recognizes that you have been somewhat dishonest with the “wealth” called your life and you have been fired. But by God’s grace you live another day or days, God only knows. When you die, got will want an accounting of your books, or life.
Jesus said, “If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth (your life on earth), who will trust you with true riches?” Jesus, the master, will ask us slaves if we have been as clever with our “worldly wealth” as we have been clever and committed to advancing and working in the Kingdom. What are we committed too? What needs immediately changed? When you look at your books of life today, who are you serving? Who are you totally committed too? Where are your “clever” energies applied?
Jesus says that you cannot serve both God and the world.