Luke 16:1-13 (NRSV)
Chapter 16Then Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. Verse 2So he summoned him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' Verse 3Then the manager said to himself, 'What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. Verse 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' Verse 5So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' Verse 6He answered, 'A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' Verse 7Then he asked another, 'And how much do you owe?' He replied, 'A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill and make it eighty.' Verse 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. Verse 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. Verse 10"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. Verse 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? Verse 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? Verse 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."
My adult sister once went to visit a younger cousin at his college. They went out to dinner together, and she promised to treat, knowing how helpful that is to college students on a budget. But when it came time to pay, my sister couldn't find her wallet. So the broke college student paid for the meal and gave her gas money to get home. What a twist of fate for the college student to pay for the employed adult.
Jesus' parable of the dishonest manager has a similar twist of fate. Jesus tells us through this parable to be wise planners when the old rules no longer apply. This savvy manager suddenly finds himself dependent on the poor debtors to survive. The manager is not commended for being dishonest, but for having wisdom to plan for the future when old relationships can no longer work. We need constantly to be wise and alert as God takes our old rules and traditions and turns our expectations upside down.
God, help us to upend our broken rules and expectations around money. Give us creativity to use our resources as a tool to build the kingdom of God. Amen.