Luke 16:9 - [Jesus said] "And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
The first time I was fired from a job, it happened so quickly, it took a moment for the words to register. Chris, the manager, pulled me aside and told me that I didn't need to come back. They'd mail my final paycheck. It happened that fast—with just a few words, I became unemployed. Getting fired can be a crisis, but it can also be eye opening, because it reminds us that we don't get the last word.
Jesus of Nazareth once told a story about a guy who got fired. The text for today is the conclusion of that story. As with all of Jesus' stories, though they may entertain and inform us, Jesus told them to prepare us to face the crisis of what He called, "the kingdom of God." And facing it is kind of like getting fired. Now, we can't be sure of what exactly Jesus was trying to communicate through this story. But, the Bible, as a whole, makes at least three things clear: (1) there is a crisis coming—a crisis called the kingdom of God; (2) Jesus wants to prepare us for it; and (3) these parable stories will help.
Now Christians have been puzzling about the meaning of the parable of the "unrighteous" or "shrewd" manager for millennia. Go and read it in Luke 16 and see what you think. Here are a couple things to notice: first, the master could have thrown this unrighteous manager in jail, but he doesn't. For some reason, he has mercy on him; and second, notice how abruptly the story ends. Jesus doesn't tell us what happens next, whether or not the manager gets a fresh start. And maybe Jesus doesn't say so because He wants to shift the attention back to you and me. The point of the parable might be as simple as this: if this scoundrel could use his wits to throw himself on the undeserved mercy of this earthly master, how much more can we throw ourselves on the mercy of God, our loving Father?
Here's another surprising thing about this story: despite all of this manager's antics, after he's thrown himself on the mercy of his master, that's when he's finally starting to act like a real manager. That's when he seems to be most faithfully representing his master's merciful character—when he's making friends, giving others a fresh start. And that's what Jesus tells us to do: use what we have, all our property, possessions, wealth, and resources to make friendships that will last forever—to prepare people for God's coming Kingdom, to show them mercy in the name of Jesus.
About that incident of me getting fired that I mentioned. It's a long story, and I'll tell you about it on another occasion. But I will tell you that a year later, I went to apply for another job. And you wouldn't believe it, but the manager doing the hiring at this job was none other than Chris, the guy who fired me from the last job! He recognized me right away. But he didn't speak a word about our last meeting. I used to think he had forgotten about the foolishness that got me fired. But now, I think he just wanted to give me a fresh start.
WE PRAY: Dear Jesus, I am grateful that Your last word for me is of forgiveness, grace, and a fresh start. Help me offer this to others for Your sake and in Your name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Have you ever been fired, or had a similar experience? What do you remember about that?
2. Read Luke 16:1, remembering that "the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it" (Ps 24). How might you be accused of mismanaging God's possessions he's entrusted to you?
3. The manager is praised, not for his "unrighteousness," but for his "shrewdness" (Lk 16:8). What aspects of his conduct might you incorporate into the stewardship of your life? His urgency? His focus? His collaboration, or creativity?
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