A Pastoral Letter - 22 September 2019
The Shrewd Manager
by Revd. Mark Muspratt-WilliamsMy brothers & Sisters in Christ,
In order to have a better understanding of Luke 16:1-13, we need to go back to chapter 14 where Jesus heals a man with dropsy and then addresses the scholars of the law and the Pharisees who are present by asking them questions with no response on their parts. Jesus then goes on to tell them parables to bring across what he had initially asked them, for Jesus knew where these scholars and pharisees hearts lay.
Then in chapter 15 we read how the tax collectors and sinners started gathering around Jesus to hear what he had to say. The Pharisees & scribes then started complaining about Jesus who welcomes the tax-collectors and sinners and eats with them (chapter 15 verse 2). Once more Jesus goes on to tell parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the Merciful Father in order to bring across who God is in seeking the lost and welcoming back those who have strayed along the wrong path of life.
Then Jesus goes on to tell his disciples the parable of the dishonest steward who chose to look after his own interests and how he can benefit from it rather than choosing an honest lifestyle in service to his master.
Going into this parable, we see it is about the dishonest steward who was in charge of managing the rich man’s property. When his master found out what his steward was doing, confronted the steward on this very matter and the discussions ended off telling the steward that he could no longer trust him to take care of his affairs in the future and that he no longer can remain in the services of this rich man. The steward was going to be fired but before this could happen, fearing about his future, he decides to take the initiative in confronting those who owed his rich master and instructed each to give only a percentage of what they owed to the rich master.
For this manager, having the people only give the master a certain amount would have them people see him in a different light when he got fired, that they then would welcome him into their homes as though he was their friend.
When the rich master hears this, instead of reprimanding the steward or taking further action against the steward, he decides to rather praise him for doing such a shrewd thing. The master saw this action of the steward from a perspective that the steward knew how to look after himself. As for this steward, he was ‘street-smart’. For people like this are smarter in this regard than law abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. Jesus calls
us to also be street smart but with eternity in mind as opposed to earthly treasures.
As people, we are all given many things in life that the Lord entrusts unto us to take care of. We either choose to be good stewards of such things or to go down a path where dishonesty is the only way we see ourselves at by living a life cutting corners, trying to find ways to benefit ourselves at the expense of others. Whether we are honest or dishonest in the way we live, there are consequences of each action for in verses 10 to 12 which says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will be dishonest with much. So, if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”
How we handle the earthly affairs that God entrusts to us will depend on how God will entrust unto us with that of Spiritual matters.
Then Jesus goes onto to say that “No servant can serve two masters…” We as Christians believe God is our ultimate Master who cares for us however many times, we see ourselves replacing God as our Master by putting other things or people ahead of Him. We might not even realise that we have done so but be careful for anything else that becomes our master may be enjoyable now and we may benefit from it while on earth but the cost will be high as we sacrifice the ultimate joy in knowing that having God as our Master we will then also receive the eternal life as the Lord looks after and cares for those who love him.
Revd. Mark Muspratt-Williams
Date Added: 2019-09-18