1Then 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. 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.’ 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. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 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.’ 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. 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. 10Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 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.”
Reflection: Then 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.”
We are all very familiar with the parable of the prodigal son, but this parable is not often preached or taught. It is a difficult passage and it seems that some things Jesus says here run counter to his overall message. But this passage comes directly after the prodigal son passage. In a sense, Jesus uses this parable to drive home the point of the prodigal son parable. It is the sequel to that parable and it speaks to what we truly value, as opposed to what God truly values. In the prodigal son parable, we learnt hat God values us more than anything, and God is willing to take a great loss (represented by the father’s financial loss) even it means he will eventually gain us. This parable is then asking for our response to that. Are we willing to risk loss to gain God?
When threatened with the loss of his income, the manager panics and puts all of his energy into trying to secure some financial gain for the future. “If I could only please my master’s debtors, then perhaps they will look after me once my master dismisses me,” he thinks. Never mind the fact that had he just been honest in the first place, he would have been regularly rewarded by his master. And what about those debtors? Will they really look upon him favorably, or will they stay away from the dishonest manager once he is dismissed, because they have seen his true character? After all, who would want him working for them if he is just going to continue in his dishonest ways?
Yet, when threatened with the loss of true life by ignoring and rejecting God, we do not put the same fervor and energy into finding life in Christ. That is Jesus’s point here. We care more abut our financial security than our security in God. Too often we treat our faith and spiritual life with a dismissive indifference, when – in the long run – all that really matters is that connection to God we find in our faith and spiritual life. And we treat the things that ultimately don’t matter – like how financially secure we are – like matters of life and death.
Jesus is asking us to reexamine our priorities. If we go to great lengths to make sure our bills are paid and our portfolio is intact, shouldn’t we go to greater lengths to keep our connection to God intact? If our love of money and “stuff” would tempt us to throw away our morals and our integrity, shouldn’t we reexamine what is of true value? God values us so highly that he comes running to the prodigal sons and daughters to embrace them in forgiveness and redemption. God values us so highly that he gave his Son for our freedom. Now how will we value God in return?
Journaling Focus: And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?
In light of this passage – and especially the question noted above – reflect on these words from James 1:17: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” Everything you have been given is a gift from God – not even your life is your own. How can you offer your life – and all that your life holds – back to God as a gift?
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (sometimes in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Explore: If you would like to explore the Scripture more deeply, go to our Exploring Scripture page!
Listen to the song More Precious Than Silver. As you listen, reflect on what God means to you – can you ever fully express such worth? What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: You cannot serve God and wealth.
Bob Dylan famously sang these words:
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody*
This week, pray for strength to serve God and to resist the temptation of serving your own interests. Ask God for discernment to see his paths and to stay away from the paths of evil. When all else fails, pray these words our Lord taught us: “Lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Meditation Focus: 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.
Life is a progression of responsibility. We begin completely dependent as infants, then learn more in school and at home, all the while being entrusted with new tasks, until we are given more serious responsibilities such as driving, working, and starting our own families. Reflect over the journey of your life. Think about those times that God has given you more, even when it felt like more than you could handle. Ask God to help you see those experiences as acts of holy confidence in you. How does such thinking change your perspective on difficult times that you have faced? Meditate on how God is calling you toward increased faithfulness and kingdom responsibility.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- How have you witnessed dishonesty in our world?
- How have you witnessed honesty in our world?
- Where has your integrity been challenged or tempted?
- In what ways have you offered your life to God?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Examine your bank records or reflect on how you have spent money recently. How are you using your monetary resources to serve God? What are some ways that you can sacrifice your wants to help meet the needs of others? What does your spending say about your heart?
Breath Prayer: LORD God, you are worthy of all our praise.