Monday, September 16, 2013

Did Jesus justify mismanagement in Luke 16:1-13?

Any who think Jesus gives clear simple step-by-step guidance for Christians living ought to read this parable in Luke 16:1-13. This is no 5 step Christian living plan; it's a parable inviting deep reflection about money, values, and relationships.
Jesus' story sounds realistic--a money manager mismanaged the bosses affairs (Luke 16:1). As soon as the books are opened by the boss the fiscal dysfunction will be clear (Luke 16:2). In a moment of panic the mismanaging manager hatched a plan: use the remaining time with access to the books to make friends fast (Luke 16:3). If the plan worked begging and ditch digging wouldn't be needed to keep body and soul together (Luke 16:4). The mismanager cut a debt to the boss of 100 jugs of oil down to 50. 100 barrels of wheat becomes 80 (Luke 16:5-7). With the old bosses debtors now in his debt the mismanager quickly crafted a silver parachute.

So what's the point. On the outside this seems like a terrible story to teach repenting sinners to live as children of the light. But Jesus wants his followers to key in on a what this man did. He used what he had to make friends fast (Luke 16:8-9). Even the boss who was coming to fire acknowledged how this shrewd dealing spared trouble for the mismanager.
The mismanager might argue there was no malicious intent in the mismanagement--but that's not the point and wouldn't satisfy any bosses demands to fairly reconcile accounts. Likewise we might argue to God that we didn't intend to hurt anyone by our actions--rather Jesus encourages us to think again about how we act in this broken world (Luke 163:8-9). How do we use the gifts God's given? Are we faithful or dishonest? What will we do as the wiggle room disappears (Luke 16:10) all around us?
Honest to God Jesus talks about money as a way post to something bigger--to the true riches (Luke 16:11). He invites us to be faithful to heaven first in what we use and in how we serve (Luke 16:12) because only in heaven do we actually possess anything--only in heaven do we have our true master who deserves our true and complete devotion.
Let me know what you think, Did Jesus justify mismanagment?
Peace to you, and thanks for reading, John

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