Big thank you to Beth for the notes this week. All of our guest contributors have very busy lives, so to take on the notes is a significant commitment but one that is valued by those who read them. If you have been following this week, then I’m sure that like me, you will have been blessed. As usual the passage can be read here.
Here, talking to the disciples, Jesus tells a parable about money. Apparently money makes the world go round but Jesus sees it differently.
At the beginning of this parable, Jesus tells of a manager who is brought to account by his master because of his immoral actions with his master’s money and is discharged of his duties. This is a reminder to all listening that there comes a time when we will be discharged of our duty and asked to speak for our actions. We will be judged for our actions on earth and we should always remember this.
This parable also seems to be another parable speaking against pride. The manager has no shame in cheating his master of money but is too proud to beg. I think this reveals so much about today’s world. There is a shame in having a cheap wedding or wearing cheap clothes but there seems to be no shame in living together or having children outside of marriage. There is little shame in ‘cheating the system’.
When the manager knows he has fallen out of favour with his master, he is forced to consider being in favour with the tenants because he going to need them to help him when he is out of work. In doing this, he acts justly to the tenants but also helps his master by ensuring he gets some of the rent and, by not causing the tenants to run out of money, he ensures that the master will be paid rent in the future. This wisdom from the manager, although not from the right place and from selfish motivations, benefits everyone. The manager is credited by his master for his actions.
Perhaps, if we showed some of the wisdom and determination that is demonstrated in this world by successful entrepreneurs or sports people to our Christian lives, then we would be more like Christ and His work would be carried out faster and with more skill and determination. Perhaps there are things we could learn from children of the world. When you consider the motivation and determination many sports people demonstrate in reaching peak performance, it should challenge the motivation we demonstrate to our Christian lives. Could we spend more time with the Lord? Could we prioritise him further?
It is clear here that we are not to love and value money. We cannot serve two masters. What does this mean in our lives? We are to see any money or possessions we have as being the Lord’s. As in, we should ask the Lord what to do with our money and our possessions, rather than keeping control of it ourselves. Jesus is not asking for control of a tithe here – he’s asking for control of the whole lot. We shouldn’t see it as giving money to the Lord’s work but as using the Lord’s money for his work.
Although Jesus is talking to his disciples here, it is clear that the Pharisees are listening. Jesus wants them to know that, even if they pride themselves on not wasting their wealth or inheritance on ‘wild living’ – like we saw the lost son do in yesterday’s passage – they can still be guilty of wasting their wealth and possessions if they are not focused on using it for the God’s glory.
The Pharisees hate Jesus’ comments here and look at him with scorn. I think these teachings would be received similarly today. We live in a world preoccupied with money and looking after yourself and so the teaching that our money belongs to the Lord is uncomfortable, even to Christians. It’s challenging and difficult to live.
Lord help us to remember that we are merely stewards of your wealth and that ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it’. Help us Lord to learn from those around us who show an unfaltering motivation or determination to reach a goal or standard and help us to apply this to our spiritual lives.