What can Christians learn from a dishonest accountant?

A weird parable

I have taught Luke’s Gospel many times in different settings.

Most of my students have concluded that Luke 16 contains one of the weirdest parables that Jesus taught.

Jesus told the story of a dishonest manager who was called to give an account of what he had done before he was fired. He had some time to act quickly so called in some of his master’s debtors and rewrote their accounts so that they owned less. He reasoned that they would provide for him after he was fired. After all, physical labor would be too hard for him and he did not want to beg. This would be best for him.

His rich master found out about what he did and commended him for it. He thought that the manager’s dishonesty was very shrewd.

The rich man and his manager lived in a moneyed world. Dishonesty, bribery, and inflated commissions were the norm. In this world and by these standards, the manager was shrewd.

What can Christian learn from this?

In verses Luke 16:8- 9 Jesus turns the parable in a subtle direction. Christians are often not very shrewd with money. Christian shrewdness means moving the money to heaven. The money is not evil in itself.

The dishonest manager wants to be welcomed by others on earth. Christians should want to be welcomed in the eternal kingdom.

How do you move the money in that direction?

John Chrysostom who preached around 400 AD spoke of the poor as God’s bankers and urged his listeners to make a deposit.

We can use earthly wealth to achieve heavenly goals

We do this when we reach out to the unbelief in the world.

We do this when we give to others who cannot meet their own needs.

We do this when we invest in people, churches and other groups that invest in people.

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