Exchange goods Luke 16:1-18

money 2

Oh the love of money, wealth, possessions, status! In this Scripture Jesus emphasize the erroneous road this love leads to. The name of the passage is the unrighteous steward. The unrighteous steward was given money and skills to work with. He was blessed and had a gift but he fell in love with pleasures these brought and became controlled instead of in control. By allowing it, he lost his true identity. I don’t think it would be erroneous to conclude that each one of us has sets of talents and abilities stronger and different from those of others. Not all of us are good at everything even when some of us think otherwise.

We can attribute those abilities to genetics as some of them are more prevalent in families and carried on from one generation to another. Ultimately, if we believe in a Creator, we can say that those personality traits or abilities come from Him and have been individually placed to help us through this Earthly journey. In the bible we read about spiritual gifts and those are usually uncovered and understood after our second birth.

The word tells us that we are born again when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and make Him our Lord and Master. We were initially all born of the flesh and now we are born of the Spirit. After this transformation, our lives are to be guided no longer by our flesh but by His Spirit. At this point, we receive Spiritual gifts on top of our human flesh gifts or abilities.

Those who have not been born again, are able to use their given skills and abilities in this world until they run out of fuel which comes from the Creator. According to my understanding of the scriptures, these are magnified when the individual is born again of the Spirit. God is always in control of all the gifts and can give and take away according to His will, His purposes in our lives and our submission or rebellion toward Him.

The Spiritual gifts have been promised to us not for our own use but for the building of the Church of Jesus Christ. These are our tools to work in and for the kingdom!  Romans 12:4-6 says: For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith.

Based on the above statements, let us read the unrighteous steward as follows: God sent people to earth for a purpose. Each one of them had a set of gifts and possessions or lack of to perform their assign task.  God expected them to use those gifts, posessions or lack of for His purposes. An instruction manual was sent and many messengers have come along the road. Within this group was a man who for our reading purpose will name Tom. His ability was leadership in business. He was given a fortune to work with. His Master (God) needed him to use those bussiness abilities to build God’s kingdom.

To make the utmost of Tom’s skill, Tom needed to be in connection with his Master while on Earth. ultimately, Tom would have to comprehend that what was given to him was not his but his Master’s. His Master required and desired for him to prove that he would be faithful to invest the money, bring a profit and if he was able to do this, perhaps he would be rewarded with his own. As a father wants a son to succeed and rewards him with more independence when he proves to be trustworthy, so was Tom’s Master. Tom began to like the money more than he cared to be faithful to his Master.

God was told that Tom was not using God’s possessions accordingly so God was upset and called Tom in. He notified Tom that his Job would be taken away. Tom, the cleaver man that he was, realized that he wasn’t good at many other things. He could care less about exploring other skills. He liked the money he was making, was keeping a large portion to himself, and living a life that was very pleasing to him. He wasn’t willing to wait and he wasn’t willing to submit to his Master.

He realized he needed to act quickly. There was no way he was going to dig to plant anything for a living! are you kidding me “he thought” I am not strong enough to be a farmer. Could I beg? no! big no! my pride would not let me. I would be too embarrassed! After all, I am Tom, the businessman! I can do this on my own!  My Master is upset at me and He is going to take away my job. I want to live for myself and enjoy my freedom! I am clever and I will have the money I want. I will work on the people so that they feel indebted and take care of me when my job is gone.

Tom’s Master had many debtors and Tom called them all and asked them to name the amount they owed. Upon their stated amount, Tom cut a percentage of it and asked them to pay it now at a much lower rate. Luke 16:8  “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 

God praised Tom for being so clever! Tom had truly used his gift and utilized it for the world’s affairs. It was meant to be used in the world’s affairs but with the Master’s purposes in mind. Tom decided that what the world was offering was more pleasing to him at this time as he enjoyed the money and what it brought to him. As he became in love with the world, he became more clever in dealing with those who were of the world.

More often Jesus said, those who adopt this world as their own become very skilled among their own and are successful at turning God’s given attributes for worldly gain. The sons of light have other principles and therefore are not as skilled in worldly affairs. Their actions are guided by their Master whose Value system is in opposition to those of the world.

Luke 16: 9 says: “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”

Jesus said about Tom and those like him. “Sure, use your skills for when they are not directed by God, your given abilities and talents are worldly and will gain worldly possessions for you. Use them to make friends for yourselves so that when these are gone, you will be welcome into eternal dwellings. Jesus did not say which eternal dwellings. there are two eternal dwellings, one with the King of heaven and one with the king of this world.

Luke 16:10-12 says: Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

Tom had not been faithful with the wealth that was entrusted to him on this Earth. In his mind it was the greatest thing ever and he fell head over heels over it.! He failed to see that true wealth was yet to come. If he had been faithful with what was given, He would have been able to experience unimaginable riches of his own.

Tom had switched Masters. He exchanged the thing for the Creator of the thing. He was blinded by the candle and could not see the sunlight! Jesus said: “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.”

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. Luke 16:14

Jesus was not gentle about this subject. According to Him, the pharisees were using their given skills and talents as a cover up for what was really in their hearts. They were just like Tom. They proclaimed to love God and work for the Kingdom but their hearts did not belong to God but to the riches they pursued and enjoyed. They, like Tom, were misusing God’s possessions and misguiding the people with their actions.

They too were cutting the prizes down to please people and gain for themselves. The pharisees were an example for us for we do the same. How often we hear preachers and teachers not teaching God’s word as it is, bending and twisting it to fit their lives and those of the people today to gain riches for themselves in the form of numbers, church attendance, popularity, and ultimately money etc.

Jesus said to them: isn’t it clear to you? The law and the prophets have testified of this and you do not want to understand. You are forcing your way into the Kingdom but unless you do as the prophets instructed you and make Me your Master, you are not of My Kingdom! You are on your own and will be judged according to the letter of the law. Just as you are to serve one Master and not be guilty of divorcing your wife all the Law is still in place and you are to fulfill it. None of it will be erased. Luke 16: 17 “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”