And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
“There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” Luke 16:1-8
A first glance the story might be confusing because it appears Jesus is condoning the shrewd behavior of the unjust steward. Jesus goes on to say that not only is this steward’s conduct clever, but that he is wiser than the children of light (aka: Christians). To the believer this seems illogical, at least initially.
Is Jesus actually saying that these tactics are superior to ours?
Yes and No
Let’s be clear, Jesus is not winking at this man’s sin. What He is doing is taking the opportunity to point out the steward’s tenacity. Jesus alerts us to the fact that this unscrupulous man is doing whatever it takes to prepare for his inevitable retirement. Our Savior then turns the story on its side and asks us if we are making the wisest decisions possible in preparation for our eternal retirement. Reading the account we’re forced to examine if we’re as tenacious towards our future as the ungodly are towards theirs? Essentially Jesus is warning us, that in most cases, we are not.
However, all is not lost and we’re provided a recourse. In the verses that follow the parable (in Luke 16:9-13), Jesus lays out for us what Christian wisdom should look like in this regard.
And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Step 1: Make Friends with Mammon
When Jesus tells us to make friends by means of filthy money (unrighteous mammon), He is in reality telling us that there is a way to utilize our resources that will tame the money and protect us. This is accomplished by sending them ahead of us; i.e., spending it unselfishly on things that have eternal weight.
Money, Jesus is saying, cannot control a person if it is used for His glory.
Jesus refers to money as that which is least and goes on to say if we’re faithful in using it according to His will, we will be trusted with things of greater value. God doesn’t tell us what those things are necessarily, but we can take Him at His word that they are of much worth. In a sense, Jesus is going to determine what our futures hold by how well we manage our filthy lucre. Quite honestly, this is precisely where the [false] prosperity gospel disintegrates.
Consider Malachi 3:8-12:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the Lord of hosts.
If we don’t tithe, we might say that we don’t give in that way, but that’s not what God says. He declares that we’re stealing from Him. How can God say such a thing? Because [the Bible teaches] everything belongs to Him. If we deny Him that minimum thing He asks back from us, then we are stealing. Look at it as if God were your next door neighbor who loans you a bunch of his tools and then asks for one of them back before you’re finished with your project. If you deny the him his request, plainly stated, you are a thief. You might have an excuse, but nevertheless, you’re a thief.
God Doesn’t Need His Stuff Back
That’s not really the point. Frankly, we don’t know the entire rationale behind the tithe, but we do know a few very important reasons why God wants us to do it. Aside from the windows of heaven pouring out blessings no room can contain (which should be sufficient), we’re taught that to not tithe is to bring a curse upon ourselves. The curse is not a judgement of the Father, but an affliction of our own doing. It’s kind of like not getting a flu shot – we can’t complain if we get the flu [since] we brought the ailment upon ourselves when we rejected the protection it offered.
Look what God says:
“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts (Malachi 3:11)
When we’re faithful with that which is least (money), God rebukes satan for our sakes. In other words, we are protected. In contrast, when we steal from God, we are vulnerable to satan’s evil [because] he has not been hedged in.
Finally, Jesus declares that we cannot serve God and mammon. He is factually saying if we’re spending our money on that which is good in our tithes and our offerings, there will not be enough to spend it on that which is evil. Mammon was never meant to be the thing we idolize, but rather a tool by which we can bring honor and glory and praise to the Father.The good news is that as we submit to God; change our minds on this issue (and others), God will be faithful to change our hearts.
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
- What do these verses say about God?
- What do they say about Christians?
- What is our recourse?
These articles may or may not relate to this post:
- The Shrewd Manager (theshrewdmanager.typepad.com)
- The Birds of Heaven (brakeman1.com)
- No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (bummyla.wordpress.com)
- This is a must read about how you give to the Lord (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- The Justified Way of Praying: An Exposition of Luke 18:9-14 (clearerperspective.wordpress.com)
- Following Jesus Is More Important Than Material Gain (momsfirstscreenn.wordpress.com)
- Faith’s Checkbook (momsfirstscreenn.wordpress.com)
- “Tithing Manipulation: Misusing Of Malachi 3:8-10 To Gain Tithes?” (estherscott1257.wordpress.com)
- Scripture at Sunrise 6.5.2012 (nlbclex.wordpress.com)
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