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Monday, September 13, 2010

9/13/10- Luke 16:1-9 Using Earthly Things for Higher Purposes

1 Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'
3 "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'
5 "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'
6 " 'Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.' 7 "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' " 'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. "He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.' 8 "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

Thoughts: The man was about to lose his job.  However, the point of this parable is not, "how to get ready to lose your job" as much as a reminder that worldly wealth does not last, so we should use it for eternal purposes.  In a time of high unemployment (over 9.5% nationally and 11% in our state), it is important to put money in perspective.  Love of money is the root of all evil.  Some have it and use it greedily, others don't have it and want it enough to lose their integrity to get it (which is also a form of greed).  Jesus talked about using wealth to gain friends for yourself.  The way to do that is like this shrewd manager who was generous toward others.  Sometimes little gifts can make great friendships.  My uncle was great at that.  He would send a box of mountain apples (from a grove near his house) to various influential people.  Another friend had an extra set of football tickets that he gave away regularly to others.  A young college student I know had little money, but she would paint or make things for other people just to let them know she was thinking about them.  Jesus' point is to use money in generous ways for higher purposes.

Prayer: Lord, today, when so many are hurting financially, give me wisdom in my stewardship of what you have given me.  Help me to be a kind and generous person today.

John Calvin abridged: The point of this parable is that we should deal kindly and generously with our neighbors so that when we come to the judgment seat of God we may reap the fruit of our liberality. It should be noted that no one is so frugal that they do not waste property entrusted to them.  We may also learn that mature and deliberate liberality may keep us from extravagant and selfish spending.  Another thing we may learn is that generosity (as opposed to cruelty) brings down upon us the mercy of God.  Jesus says that ungodly and worldly people are often more industrious and skillful in conducting the affairs of this fading life, than the children of God are anxious to obtain the heavenly life.  So he charges us with criminal indifference in not providing for the future with at least as much earnestness as the ungodly show by take care of their own interests in this world.

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