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."
A friend of mine, writing a book on the parables, once observed that preaching on the parables is like trying to explain a joke: you either get it or you don’t. In this case, Luke’s story seems to offer two options for interpreting Jesus’ parable of “The Dishonest Manager.” Yesterday we focused on being savvy. Today we see in verse 9 a reminder that how we handle our wealth has eternal consequences. For sure we are “saved by grace through faith,” but we still must give an accounting of our stewardship of life. In that vein, the hymn “Into Paradise May the Angels Lead You” (ELW 222) speaks of being welcomed in the holy city, Jerusalem, where “Lazarus is poor no more” and there is “everlasting rest.” How we use our wealth reflects how our faith has shaped our lives. Indeed, faithfulness leads to generosity. And our generosity will perhaps be reflected when, in the kingdom, we sit at table with our brother Lazarus.
Grant us, O God, a spirit of giving, that we may be a blessing to our neighbors in need. Remind us that by doing so, we will celebrate with them in your eternal kingdom. In Christ’ name we pray. Amen.