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Luke 16:1-18 – The Shrewd Manager

Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who had a business manager who was wasting his possessions. The rich man sacked the manger so the manger reduced the debts of the rich man’s clients so that he would be regarded favorably by the same clients in his time of need. The master then commended the manager for his financial shrewdness.

According to Jesus, the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light are. Jesus teaches that we are to employ worldly wealth in shrewd ways but for kingdom concerns. Those who benefit from our using money in this way will welcome us into their eternal dwellings in the new earth.

We need to be faithful stewards with money that is of such little value, utilizing it not for our gain but for the kingdom. The application is that we cannot serve both God and money – a choice needs to be made as to which cause we will be devoted to.

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. Jesus responds by identifying their love of money as an expression of their justifying themselves before men. In other words, the Pharisees believe their wealth reflects evidence of God’s pleasure with them – by parading that wealth before men they believe that men will consider them righteous.

According to Jesus, the external attempts to justify themselves in the sight of men in contrasted with God’s knowing their hearts – and what he sees there is not good. The money in which they rejoice is, in the sight of God, an abomination. This word ‘abomination’ is sometimes used of idol worship. So, in the sight of men, the Pharisees display their evidence of their righteousness i.e. their money – but in the sight of God who sees in their hearts they are as unclean as idolatry.

Their wealth is not evidence of their righteousness or obedience to the Law and the prophets but rather evidence of their breaking God’s word. Jesus further illustrates their breaking of the law regarding sexual immorality. They divorce their wives, allowing serial monogamy, but God is not mocked. The love of money, idolatry and sexual immorality reveal the Pharisees’ understanding of their wealth is much misguided.

This will be further shown in Jesus’ next parable.