Translations: Chinese GB Big5

The Parable of 
The Shrewd Manager

 Luke 16:1-13   He also said to his disciples, "There was a certain rich man who had a manager. An accusation was made to him that this man was wasting his possessions. He called him, and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ "The manager said within himself, ‘What will I do, seeing that my lord is taking away the management position from me? I don’t have strength to dig. I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do, so that when I am removed from management, they may receive me into their houses.’ Calling each one of his lord’s debtors to him, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe to my lord?’ He said, ‘A hundred batos of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then said he to another, ‘How much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred cors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ "His lord commended the dishonest manager because he had done wisely,

for the children of this world are, in their own generation, wiser than the children of the light. I tell you, make for yourselves friends by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when you fail, they may receive you into the eternal tents. He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You aren’t able to serve God and mammon."  (web)


Discussion Questions

What is the main point of the parable?
Who does the rich man represent and who the manager?
How many masters are there in the parable?
What master was the manager serving?
What masters must Christians chose between?
How do you resolve the contradiction when Jesus speaks on being trustworthy with other people's things, but then also appears to commend the unjust steward in not being trustworthy?
What role can selfishness play in serving Christ?


Comments

The themes of this parable is to view money as a resource rather than as an end in itself.

The rich man represents the world system devoted to the accumulation of money. Let's call this world system simply "Money". The shrewd  manager represents the Christian who while being in the world is not of it. The manager didn't really serve the rich man, rather he served his own interests. The Christian doesn't really serve the world system, he serves Christ. He doesn't serve Money the way that Money would like him to. He isn't accumulating money the way in which a faithful devoted servant of Money would. So Money threatens him with poverty and insecurity unless he serves faithfully. This is the pressure that many Christians face - whether to serve God or Money. Which is our source of security? Which offers greater wealth? Many a Christian is crushed by the worries, riches and pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to maturity. But Christians should use the world's resources to serve God and in this way gain for themselves eternal rewards. See "Investing in an HRA".

But there seems to be implied a certain selfishness in this.  Most Christians, while claiming selfless devotion to Christ, are motivated out of a sense of personal gain in their service to Christ. It is true that as one matures, one develops a more selfless attitude, but even among those who reckon themselves "spiritually mature" such selflessness is often underdeveloped. It is interesting that such selfishness does not disqualify one from service to Christ. Rather Christ actually encourages to use such as a motivation for diligent service. It seems he simply doesn't have particularly high expectations of people behaving as servants of God just because it is the right thing to do. Because of the sinful nature, people are only motivated to seek God because there is reward in it.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Heb 11:6
Jesus also speaks on being TRUSTWORTHY. But what he says seems to be inherently contradictory. For while he commends being trustworthy with someone else's things, he also seems to commend the unjust servant who was unfaithful with his master's things. However, when taken with the statements which follow these concerning there being two masters, this contradiction can be resolved. How many masters are there in the parable? Only one is presented. But in reality there are two. In serving God, Christians appear to hate the world system. They love the one and hate the other.  That is the way it should be. God rebukes those nominal Christians who sit on the fence trying to serve both.
"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world-- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-- comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1John 2:15-17
Having God as Master, the Christian views material resources as responsibilities entrusted to him by God for which he will be rewarded if he uses them in a responsible manner in service to God.

Rap

There was a rich man whose manager did waste
Much of his things, so he called him in haste
"What is this I hear about you?
Get ready to leave because you are through."
The manager thought to himself, "What shall I do now?
I'm ashamed to beg and I can't even plow.
I know what I'll do so that when I leave
I'll be welcomed elsewhere and I won't have to grieve."
So he called each one of his master's debtors
And promised each one to make their debt better
To those owing eight hundred he cut in half
No doubt this would surely make them laugh
From a thousand he wrote eight hundred bushels of wheat
While the rest of their debt he did delete.
The master commended this servant for being so shrewd.
So what is my point, to what do I allude?

The world is more shrewd in dealing with its kind
Than are the people of the light. At least that's what I find.
Use your wealth to gain friends so that when you pass away
You'll be welcomed into dwellings forevermore to stay.

Whoever can be trusted with just a little bit
With much he can be trusted as he's shown he's fit
Whoever is unjust with little is unjust with much
So if you've not been faithful in handling wealth and such
Who will trust you with the riches which are really true?
So you must be reliable in everthing you do
If you have not been faithful with someone's property
You may be given nothing and end in poverty.
No one who's a servant can serve under more than one
Or else he'll end up loving one and the other loving none.
One he will despise, to other be a sonny. 
You cannot both serve God and also serve Money.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jul 29,2015