The Parable of the Dishonest Manager
The parables of Jesus are interesting stories and analogies of life that are used to illustrate important spiritual truths. Most people have heard of the “Parable of the Good Samaritan” that illustrates how we are to love others, and the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” which teaches how God rejoices when sinners return to God in repentance. A lesser known parable which is both unusual, but very practical, is the “Parable of the Dishonest Manager” recorded in Luke 16:1-13.
In this parable there is a property manager, also called a steward, of a rich man’s estate. The rich man learns that the steward has been wasting his possessions and so he informs the property manager that he is going to fire him and demands an accounting of the books he’s kept. Immediately the steward thinks of a scheme to ingratiate himself among a couple of the master’s debtors so that they will likely take him in for a period of time after he loses his employment. To a debtor who owes the master 100 measures of oil, the property manager reduces the debt to 50 measures; and to a debtor who owes the master 100 measures of wheat, the property manager reduces the debt to 80 measures. When the steward presents the accounts to the master, the master commends the dishonest manager for his shrewdness.
Jesus comments that the people of the world are typically shrewder in dealing with others to get what they want then are the people of His kingdom. Jesus does not commend what the dishonest manager did, but makes a practical application. Just like the dishonest manager used money to make friends for himself, it’s possible for believers to use money to make friends for themselves in heaven. Jesus states that when one dies their monetary wealth of is of no value unless they had used it to invest in evangelistic ministry that brought people to heaven. Then those saved from these evangelistic or missions ministries will await and greet you as a friend in heaven. This is so practical! In our charitable giving, are we investing in ministries that will bring people to salvation and heaven?
Jesus goes on to say that how one uses their money demonstrates whether they are trustworthy and faithful in the possessions God has given them. Jesus asks us to place ourselves into this parable! He is the rich master and we are the steward of his possessions. Are we good stewards managing God’s resources wisely, or are we foolishly squandering what God’s given us just as the dishonest manager did?
Jesus then concludes the parable with a statement He also made in the Sermon on the Mount; and that is that we cannot serve both God and money, only one can have our true allegiance. As also stated in Matthew chapter six, God and His kingdom is to be our top priority; so we need to regularly evaluate our lives to make sure this is so.