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.”
Having much wealth can either lead to greed or generosity. This parable points to the fact that God calls us to be wise and generous when it comes to handling our money. We ought to see money as a blessing and not as our first love and something that is temporary and will not earn us a place in God’s eternal kingdom.
This parable shares two main lessons: you either serve your money or you serve God. God chooses to give us wealth because He entrusts us to use it wise and to remember that it is not what brings us happiness. You can own the entire world and yet still be left feeling discontented and unhappy.
The Bible warns that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). The stewart in this parable was unwise and shrewd with his responsibility with his masters wealth. He was irresponsible and his act of cutting down those who were in debt, can be seen as not an act of generosity, but as an act of greed and dishonesty. He saw that his master was making much and as a result, the cuts could be interpreted as a means to gain some back for himself, essentially he was cheating his mater.
The point is that loving money, brings out the worst character in all of us. It drives us to want more, gain more and we are never satisfied with what we have. If we are true believers, we know that we will not be taking our earthly riches into heaven. Our commitment in this life is not to ourselves, but to Christ and all that He has done for us. He is the true provider behind all the blessings that we have and our response should naturally be to praise Him for it and to act in wisdom that He gives us.
Jesus’ instruction to “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” seems strange, as if He was commanding people to gain friends by buying them. But that would be a bit out of context. Jesus is referring to the parable he just told where the manager was forgiving portions of debt. The simple truth of this action is what Jesus is getting at; we should be generous with our money. This is why Jesus went on to say,
“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.”
We cannot reasonably expect to hoard money and goods and also have a heart that is serving God. We cannot serve money and God both. Part of serving God included being generous with our money. Always remember that we must put God and others first. A selfish accumulation of wealth while your neighbor is starving is not a kingdom principle.
[Featured image from CCTVtv]