I am confused by the message in this scripture. Please help me to interpret it.
Luke 16:1 - 8
ESV - 1 He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2 And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.
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Good question, Ainsley! LUKE 16 OUTLINE AND EXEGESIS Jesus tells the parables of the shrewd manager…bare bones outline by Harold Wilmington I. PARABLE OF THE SHREWD MANAGER (16:1-18) A. The crisis (Luke 16:1-2) 1 "And he said also unto his disciples, 'There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.'" 2 "And he called him, and said unto him, 'How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.'" This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards [managers] of the mysteries of God. "Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” 1. The dishonesty of a manager (Luke 16:1): He is accused of wasting his master's possessions. "And he said also unto his disciples, 'There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.'" “When [a steward] looks at the riches around him, the steward must remember that they belong to his master, not to him personally, and that they must be used in a way that will please and profit the master. This particular steward forgot that he was a steward and began to act as if he were the owner. He became a “prodigal steward” who wasted his master’s wealth. His master heard about it and immediately asked for an inventory of his goods and an audit of his books. He also fired his steward.” --Wiersbe 3. The dismissal of the manager (Luke 16:2): He is fired. "And he called him, and said unto him, 'How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.'" "… each of us will give an account of himself to God," Paul said. B. The concern (Luke 16:3): The dishonest manager is worried about the future. “Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do? For my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.'” Even the rich fear the future at times: “He said to himself, 'What will I do? I have no place to store my harvest!'” C. The craftiness (Luke 16:4-7) 1. The resolve of the manager (Luke 16:4): He devises a plan to secure his future with some of his master's debtors. "I am resolved on what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses." 2. The reductions by the manager (Luke 16:5-7): He reduces their debts by as much as 50 percent. 5 "So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, 'How much owest thou unto my lord?' 6 "And he said, 'An hundred measures of oil.' And he said unto him, 'Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.'" Compare Luke 16:9,12 for the moral of the story: Jesus said in verse 9, "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.” He adds in verse 12, “ And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” 7 "Then said he to another, 'And how much owest thou?' And he said, 'An hundred measures of wheat.' And he said unto him, 'Take thy bill, and write fourscore.'" D. The commendation (Luke 16:8): His master grudgingly admits the shrewdness of the dishonest manager. "And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." See verse 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much,” Jesus said. My conclusion: Be industrious! -- Proverbs 6:6-8 (ESV) 6 "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest."
Chapter 16:3,4: The manager was likely dishonest, but he was smart in worldly ways. In his mind he started planning ahead. He didn't want to become a beggar, but he was too frail to do physical work. The manager wanted to remain a white collar worker. No blue collar for him! So, he thought that when his job was done, he would need some people he could depend on. Verses 16:5-7: Obviously he was not honest with his boss, but he didn't try to get his job back. What to do, what to do? He decided to ingratiate himself to those who owed his boss money. "The children of this age are more shrewd than the children of light." The children of light are believers. The shrewd, are the unbelievers. So, he made friends with the unbelievers, then he had a way to take care of himself. Verse 16:9. Christians should always use their earthly resources as God would want them to. "Shrewd" believers will be welcomed into eternity by those whose lives were transformed by using their worldly wealth. Luke 16:10-12: if you are not a good steward of small things, you are not to be trusted with more important things. We don't really own anything! Everything belongs to God. We are trusted with his gifts. The question is how do we use what God gives with eternity in mind?
The manager of a rich man's possessions was accused of mismanagement. The rich man asked the manager to account for his remaining possessions and also stated that he would be losing his job because of this. The manager goes on in the following verses (thinking to himself) what he should do now. He's not a blue collar worker (can't dig) and 'too ashamed to beg', so he decides to go to the debtors of the rich man and collect a lessor portion of each debt. This pleases the rich man because the manager was able to recoup some of what would have otherwise been a complete loss. He billed the debtors for most of the value of the possessions in question and in doing so believed he had also made friends of the debtors by collecting a lessor amount than was owed, which was his primary goal. When the manager is to lose his job, he believes that he will have established a good relationship with the debtors by only collecting a portion of the full debt and could possibly serve them as a backup plan. The point here is that the manager uses an unrighteous means of pleasing the master and the debtors in hopes of obtaining new employment, but who would accept this person since he has shown what is in his heart by his actions? Jesus is essentially telling the disciples that they can't serve God and mammon (money) simultaneously and that God knows their hearts intent. It is important to note that this parable is for the Jews who were learning the kingdom gospel that was to come. They would also be required to sell all their possessions and give them to the poor. We today are not bound to God's covenant law with biblical Israel. We are under God's grace and required only to have faith in Jesus Christ being our savior for our salvation. The parable is still valid today in that it teaches us that the riches we may focus on are only distracting us from the greater spiritual wealth we could be obtaining from God through focusing on what Christ did for us on the cross. Our salvation is secure through our faith by God's grace, but our walk post-salvation should strive for spiritual edification, recognizing our spiritual blessings and turning our attention to serving God rather than ourselves. This is difficult if we continue to be conformed to this world and earthly desires.
The Parable of the Unjust Steward: He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. 2 So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ 3 “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So 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?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. 9 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:1-10 NKJV The key to understanding this parable is to know the meaning of "unrighteous mammon." Mammon (Aram. Status emphaticus mamōnāʾ), the etymology of which is not completely certain, probably is a maqtāl form of the root ʾmn with the meaning of ‘that in which one puts trust’, with ‘money, riches’ as a derivative meaning (J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke II [New York 1985]. Unrighteous "trust" not unrighteous "money" or unrighteous "riches" fits the narrative. The rich man originally trusted his steward and the steward acted unrighteously, but that is not the meaning of this parable. "Unrighteous trust" here means "legal loopholes." And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by legal loopholes, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. Although the unjust steward had wasted the rich man's money, he did not actually break any law. He didn't steal and he had others alter the books, which is why the rich man said he had dealt shrewdly. Where there is no law, there is no sin. Romans 4:15 The moral to the story is found in verse 9 and 10. Christians using gray areas to circumvent God's laws can still go to heaven, but they will not be trusted there with anything important. "What is a Gray Area?: Gray areas are issues that Scripture does not take a dogmatic stance on, or at the very least, issues that Scripture does not discuss in depth. Instead, the Bible gives Christians the liberty to make God-glorifying decisions based on their convictions. What Are Some Examples of Gray Areas?: Drinking, dating, kissing, gambling, smoking, clothing, music, movies, television, birth control, dancing, spending your money, home schooling, working moms, etc. Every one of the topics mentioned above are either never discussed in Scripture or are discussed only in brief. Scripture does not teach that any of these things are categorically sinful." Source: discipleshipdefined.com
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