Lenten Devotional // Day 27

Friday, April 1
STEWARDSHIP by Amy Sanders

Luke 16:1-13
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. 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.”
 
Reflection
A straightforward reading of this parable (fancy word for a teaching story from Jesus) really muddies the water as to what message he wanted to leave his disciples. I can imagine them listening, scratching their heads, before turning to each other and asking “are we supposed to be like the dishonest manager???” Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t include any follow up Q&A session.

Whether you think Jesus wanted us to identify with the manager and recognize his shrewdness and foresight, or whether you think Jesus was making a justification for using worldly wealth in furtherance of God’s kingdom, Jesus really hits the nail on the head - we have a very complicated relationship with money. We idolize it, we’ll go to great lengths to get it (sometimes illegal and morally-bankrupt ones), we misuse it, we mismanage it, we hoard it, and we forget that we can’t take it with us.

The analysis of the parable isn’t the important point - it’s the warning that Jesus leaves us with: you can’t serve God and wealth. Sure, there are ways to use it wisely and honorably, just as there are sinful ways to use it to further evil. But, we are ultimately called to handle it with caution, because wealth doesn’t translate into the kingdom of heaven. There are different treasures waiting for us there.

Question for Contemplation

Do you have a healthy relationship with wealth?

Prayer

Generous God, you bless us with necessities, gifts, and resources (some earned, others by chance). All that we have is yours, and we give you thanks for it. Help us to have a healthy relationship with our money and our things, so that we may use our earthly wealth to bless others. Amen.

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