In most of Jesus’ parables, the main protagonist is either a representative of God, Christ, or some other positive characters. In this parable, the characters are all wicked – the steward and the man whose possessions he manages are both having unsavoury characters. This should alert us to the fact that Jesus is not exhorting us to emulate the behaviour of the characters, but is trying to expound on a larger principle, on the greater scheme of things, on the great theme of self-versus God and between two Masters and to whom do we serve.
Jesus is not telling us that we should become worldly minded, unrighteous, unfaithful or crooked. The manager is never being commended for his dishonesty, he is being commended for his cleverness.
Indeed we can learned good things from bad people. We can draw positive lessons from negative examples. Jesus was drawing a good lesson from a negative example. He commended the man not for his dishonesty but for his cleverness.
It is true that the sons of light, the servants of God, well intention as they are, often lack the wisdom of astuteness, of cleverness, to use what they have wisely, as shrewdly as the world uses what they have.
Sometimes, we, who aspire in life eternal are lacking zeal compared to those who aspire only to become a rock star.
They should not outshine us after having come to Jesus, responding to the call of denying self, and to look for God, we should make sure not to waste this life that God has given us, this opportunities we have in this present moment, knowing what we know about the future and all that it requires.
We should not let them out do us with the zeal for our greater cause.
The obvious fact here is that, sometimes we are put to shame by the zeal of the Pharisees. How zealous they were in making ways to glorify themselves.
And I think it is still the case.
Everyone needs to make a decision, and from this parable , even dishonest, worldly people know that in light of the coming account, of coming reckoning, of coming judgment, everything needs to be used for our disposal, cleverly, as best as we can, as to secure for ourselves a good comfortable future. Even the most worldly dishonest people knew that.
Why are we lagging our feet when Jesus invites us to be saved? The fact that Jesus draws a positive lesson from a negative example has an extra sting to it. Because even the dishonest people get this right.
We have an opportunity before us, to live for God’s kingdom, not merely for riches that perish and fade in this world, but for an eternal reward. And that is the opportunity we have in our response to the call of Jesus. And we will use everything we have in our disposal for this great end.
Last night while watching the Voice Philippines, I appreciated much how zealous the contestants were, they were undergoing demanding voice rehearsals, helping out the poor for publicity perhaps, tiring and depriving their selves with good sleep and they were so glued on maximizing their full potential to glorify oneself- to win the competition, so that they may have a better chance of a good, comfortable life in the future.
We Christians are asked to do the same. Yet far beyond than the cause of self, we are called for a greater cause, for the cause of God and others.
If only we have this equality of zeal to those who wants to be rock stars.
In the Gospel, Jesus said, “Use filthy money to make friends”, so that when it fails, God may receive us to his eternal dwelling. Use it all for God, now, for eternity. Jesus used a parable and bringing it straight to reality, moving straight to application.
It is not true that money is the root of all evil. What is the root of all evil is our love for it. Jesus is teaching us that our money can be used to enter heaven. In what way? To use our money not only for our benefit, but also for others. But as long as we are not yet generous, it only means that we are serving the mammon and not the Lord.
And then when money fails, when we die, riches rot and fail but not righteousness, we will have a good standing, there will be something for us to look forward to, because what we’ve been labouring the whole time with our money which not that which ends with money….but its more than just about money…
We are stewards, God has given stuff for us, money is part of the stuff that God has given us, What we are doing with God’s money, are we using it for God or are we using it for ourselves? Reflecting on these questions, we then realize that it is not just money that God has given us, but our life, our breath, our family, everything. God has given us everything.
Our life that we have is not our own and what are we doing with what God has given us?
If we are not willing to be faithful with that which is least- the unrighteous wealth- mammon, how then we be expected to be faithful with the spiritual things, more important than the things that fade?
But the larger issue is discipleship, the larger issue has to do with the heart… where is our heart at? We are called to radical discipleship, to deny self and live for God. To check one’s heart is to check where one spend one’s money, where we spend our resources totally reflects where our heart really is.
One who is faithful with very little is also faithful in much.
One who is dishonest in very little is dishonest in much.
And if we are unfaithful to unrighteous wealth who will trust us with true riches?
Jesus is asking us the cause of our heart. Who are we serving? Are we taking the road of the Pharisees or are we taking the road that Jesus calling us to take- radical discipleship, for the cause of God’s greater glory, for the cause of serving others, in carrying our cross and self-denial.
Even the most worldly people, those who are dishonest know, that when the time draws near and decision is required, they have to use the present moment to ensure a good end.
Every single moment of our life is given by God, everything! What are we use it for? What cause will it contribute to? Will the Pharisees outshine us? Will the world outshine us? Will those who are dishonest outshine us? Why not used everything we have to the cause we are subscribed to?
Today, God is calling us to think with these things. A time will come that we will give an account to God…and like the steward, to take every advantage to every moment and every opportunity to ensure for ourselves a good end.
The steward had given us a good example to emulate. Like him we have to look forward to the things to come. Like him we should provide against the day that we will leave our present habitation. Like him we should secure a house in heaven. That we should use all means to provide for ourselves everlasting dwelling. To make use of every opportunity to secure an everlasting home.