Faithful in little - Faithful in much
Luke 16:1-18 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3 The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ 5 And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. 9 And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.
10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? 12 And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.
Today’s text, the parable of the unrighteous manager, seems to tell a message contrary to the rest of what Jesus teaches. It seems as though the unrighteous manager is being praised for his deception and for his unrighteousness. The text says: “And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light… He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” Here we begin to see the twist. It isn’t that we accumulate money, using the wealth of the world for our own sake. Instead we should be good stewards and good managers of the small and insignificant things of this world so that we may be entrusted with the more significant things of the kingdom of God. If we want to be entrusted with the things of the unseen spiritual realm we need to handle well the things of this physical realm.
If we look carefully, Jesus says: “And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” That’s the key, that’s how we are to view this. Jesus says: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) He says: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19) Romans 8:16-17 says: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ The things of this world are not ours to keep. Jesus says He will give us the keys to the kingdom of heaven. He is not giving us those keys as tenants or as one who is borrowing something. Jesus is giving us the keys to the kingdom of heaven because it is our own. We are heirs with Him of all that there is in the kingdom of heaven. Yet if we are not faithful in handling what we see and have in this physical realm, how can we expect to have all the promises, all the privileges and all the authority of the unseen heavenly realm.
Here’s the thing. Jesus says: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” We should not serve, be controlled by and consumed by the love or the accumulation of money; wealth or for that matter any of the things of this world. Instead all the money and wealth, all the power and authority we might gain in this world should serve us as we seek the kingdom of God. If we are devoted to God, if Jesus is our Lord and our Master, then all that we have and all that we accumulate in this world, all the temporal things of earth will be devoted to the eternal kingdom, to the place where true riches are ours forever. Having money is a good thing not a bad thing. It enables us and frees us to take care of both our obligations and responsibilities here, as well as to do the things that God calls and commissions us to do.
In today’s text it says: Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” We should not expect that the world will agree with or understand our views on wealth and all the things of this world. They who live only in this temporal realm cannot comprehend the things of the kingdom. In John 15:18-20 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” In John 17, Just before He was crucified, Jesus prayed for us saying: “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” Amen.
We are here for a purpose, to love and serve God, to show the world God’s love even though they may scoff at us and even hate us. All that we have is not our own, but all that He has given us is so much more. May we be faithful in the small insignificant things of earth, serving the God of heaven and His kingdom, our kingdom.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, in and through my life. Amen.