By Joe Chesser
Most of Jesus’ parables are easily understood; they cut straight to the heart of his point. For example, the message of the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7.24-27) is simple and clear – foolish people hear only while the wise ones hear and do. But a few of Jesus’ parables leaves us scratching our heads.
One of these for me is the parable of the dishonest manager (Luke 16.1-9). First of all he was caught squandering his master’s possessions and was being fired. So, he decided to cheat his master for selfish purposes by making deals with the master’s debtors. When the master found out what he did, he commended the dishonest manager for being shrewd. That’s as far as the story goes, but on the surface it sounds like Jesus was commending a crook: “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16.8). Thankfully, with a little help from Mike Ireland I was able to see that “Jesus told this story to explain the importance of making the wise and right use of the money and possessions we have … to be wise and faithful stewards who invest our money in kingdom priorities” (From Morning to Evening: Every Day With Jesus, August 18th).
Volumes have been written on the subject of money. But I'm afraid that many of us have concluded that as long as we give generously in church on Sundays we can use the rest of our money and possessions any way we choose that pleases us. Perhaps Jesus is using this parable to broaden our perspectives as stewards of His blessings to us. It has challenged me to think more seriously about how I use all of what God has given me. How honest or dishonest have I been with my finances? How have I allowed selfishness to justify my decisions regarding my possessions? Have I been faithful enough with unrighteous wealth to be entrusted with true riches? Am I serving God or money. It certainly can’t be both (Luke 16.10-13).
Perhaps it’s not so much that this parable is tough as it is that dealing with money as God teaches is what’s tough. Who really trusts Jesus enough to give up all their possessions in order to be his disciple (Luke 14.33)? Who really seeks the kingdom of heaven more than worrying over the physical needs of life (Matthew 6.25-33)? Who really stores up treasures in heaven in the way they use their money and possessions (1 Timothy 6.17-19; Matthew 6.19-21). Who really begs for the opportunity to contribute to the needs of others (2 Corinthians 8.1-5)? Who really believes that we reap what we sow (2 Corinthians 9.6)? Who really walks by faith in how they use their possessions and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5.7)? Tough questions for honest hearts.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at email@example.com