February 14, 2020

Will We Prove Faithful?

Luke 16:1–18

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The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

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. 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.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures1 of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures2 of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world3 are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth,4 so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

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. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The Law and the Kingdom of God

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.5 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

Divorce and Remarriage

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Footnotes

[1] 16:6 About 875 gallons or 3,200 liters
[2] 16:7 Between 1,000 and 1,200 bushels or 37,000 to 45,000 liters
[3] 16:8 Greek age
[4] 16:9 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13
[5] 16:16 Or everyone is forcefully urged into it

Will We Prove Faithful?



Key Verse | Luke 16:10-11

"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. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?"

Bio | Shannon Taliaferro

Hey, travelers! I'm Shannon Taliaferro, and, as a teacher, I'm always ready with ice-breakers. So, here are three truths and a lie about me. Can you guess which is the lie?

  1. I own five onesies (which I have worn in public in the last three years).
  2. I have never recorded or watched a Hallmark Christmas movie.  
  3. I'm a huge fan of the State Fair (yay, fried foods!). 
  4. My roommate and I decorated for Christmas on November 8, and our decorations are still up.

Bet you figured it out! And, nope! I am not embarrassed that number four is a truth! 

Central Truth

All believers will give an account before the Lord for their stewardship and will be rewarded accordingly.

Devotional | Luke 16:1–18

As a teacher, I provide my students with good examples to follow, but in all my years of teaching, I have never held up a poor example and told my students to imitate it. Yet, this appears to be what Jesus...

As a teacher, I provide my students with good examples to follow, but in all my years of teaching, I have never held up a poor example and told my students to imitate it. Yet, this appears to be what Jesus does with His parable about the dishonest manager. I don't know how you responded when you read the passage, but in Luke 16:8 when the master praises his former employee for being shrewd, I echoed a favorite response of my seventh-grade students: "Wait. What?" Why does Jesus hold up this dishonest man as an example for His disciples to follow?

What Jesus wants His followers to understand is that, while the manager was dishonest, he had a moment when he thought about his future (Luke 16:3) and then acted in a way that would benefit him down the road. Similarly, Jesus wants His disciples to think about the future. And though we can certainly experience blessings during our time on earth, there is also great opportunity for rewards in heaven. Just as the manager in the parable was called to give an account for his stewardship, we will one day give an account to the Lord for what He entrusted us with during our time on earth. And He will reward each person based on his stewardship (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The Lord is seeking faithful stewards, because those who are faithful in small things can be entrusted with much, much more (Luke 16:10). How we use the time, talents, energy, and other resources and gifts He has given us now demonstrates our faithfulness. 

This idea of proving my trustworthiness is a powerful shift in thinking. It is easy for me to get caught up in whether I trust God. But the truth is, He has proven His trustworthiness over and over, both in the Bible and in my own life. The better question is: Can He trust me? Will I use what He has given me for the praise of His glory? Lord, let it be so! Let me not squander resources or miss opportunities!

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Discussion Questions

1. What has God given you to steward? (Consider your time, possessions, abilities, etc.) In what ways are you using them for ministry? 

2. How does thinking about your eternal future cause you to reevaluate how you live now?

3. How can you encourage others to be faithful stewards? 

15 Comments available

Michael Scaman 11 days ago

The parable of a scoundrel who made shady, self serving, shrewd, forward thinking, underhanded deals. By clever bookkeeping trickery, he literally ‘stole’ the approval of many in the community not aware of the scheme. His boss was probably seen as ‘most generous guy’ in the community and appreciated so much he couldn’t toss the embezzler in jail and even complemented the scoundrel on his resourceful decisive actions

We also should take decisive actions and be wise in our dealings - but with honesty and integrity.

Michael Scaman 11 days ago

There are ways to use monetary wealth of this world for eternal benefits

" make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings."

Michael Scaman 11 days ago

A sad verse “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.”

but Ecclesiastes 5:10 says “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.”

They might have had some type of Jewish ‘prosperity gospel’ in mind where ‘the righteous’ can expect ‘bumper crops of blessings’.

Lindsey Driscoll 14 days ago

Sweet Shannon! You are an great example of someone who stewards their time well! Thank you friend! This story had me too asking my husband, “wait! What?” TheN I get to verse 11 and hear Jesus speaking the the Pharisees (oh…and me) “if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth who will trust you with true riches?” There are so many roles, things, and now a little life that I am entrusted to steward. I echo others commenting that stewarding our TIME and the LITTLE THINGS can be the hardest to steward. I must understand that all things, even time, are the Lords and most must approach them that way, in order to steward in a way that honors God.

greg jones 14 days ago

I think it’s a trick question.

There was a rich man, with a manager mismanaging his unrighteous wealth. The rich man commended the dishonest manager.

The religious ridiculed the story. Jesus said, “you are those…”

“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached,…and everyone forces his way into it.”

Jesus usually doesn’t explain his parables outside the ears of his disciples. Therefore I think this one was intended as a mirror.

Marcus Peters 14 days ago

Making money moves for Christ looks very financially risky and improper management to the world. Christ calls us to not love money or possessions, but to freely give them away (1 John 3:17-18). I find that it is a balance of trusting God with my needs, seeking His will with what I have, and hold loosely what I have so that I may be able to freely give to others. I am not perfect at this but it keeps a good tension for me between God and possessions.

Marcus Peters 14 days ago

Where I feel I struggled the most in being a good steward is time. My pride and selfishness tells me I can take then rest of the evening off to check out after a day of work. In the past that looked like hours of isolation playing games and indulging in explicit material. Now I find more joy in serving and spending time with my wife and community after work. I could be better at making time to serve others and being available to serve and share the gospel.

Zoe Gonzales 14 days ago

Thank you Shannon!

michael mcgowen 14 days ago

Your mobile beyond all motion and heading us in the right directions, buy your friends hmmm, it seems like the other day you mentioned who to invite to dinner oh yeah I remember now, this is awesome I’m on my way to work now, why can’t we do this journey on Saturday and we aren’t shut down on Monday are we, never mind, we love you Word Of God

greg jones 14 days ago

3/3

A right thing to do was press charges, haul off to jail. Three parties were fighting for something better, one clearly wrongly. At the end of the day a corner was turned toward kingdom living. Two parties experienced turning the corner, one party was unaware. That one party perceived a wrong turn.

Laws in place precipitated the repossession and altercation. Laws not followed, precipitated a perceived wrong turn. The law is not the source of the good that happened. But doesn’t happen without it.

I see what I’m talking about. But I don’t know if I’ve explained it. Kinda like the parable.

greg jones 14 days ago

2/2

I know a story of a man who had to repo a car he sold. The exiled owner showed up on the lot, police were called, police pulled up to physical altercation. After fight was broken up, suspect was cuffed in back seat of police car. Complainant requested police to give suspect ride home instead of taking to jail. Complainant explained suspect was having a bad day. Officers were mad, very mad. Officers dropped suspect off up the street.

The owner of the lot got a phone call later, the suspect, the man he knew as the person he had sold past cars to, called to convey his gratitude toward him for speaking on his behalf to the police officers.

Sue Bohlin 14 days ago

Hi Shannon! Always good to see your shining face!

I was struck by Jesus’ phrase “faithful in a very little.” It reminds me that the same God who notes the activity of every bird and counts every hair on our heads is paying attention to even the smallest acts of faithful stewardship of our time, talent, treasures and influence. So often we hunger for people’s attention, forgetting that God is always attentive of us, looking for the smallest good choices to reward us later.

Sarah Crotty 14 days ago

Shannon, thanks for writing on this passage. I have been among those who looked at it with a “Wait, what?” response, and you brought perspective.

Hope Harris 14 days ago

GM JTJ Peeps, This mornings reading reminds me of a a new show I am watching “Life Below Zero.” The show follows a cast of people who have left traditional society behind; in the remote regions of Alaska.

Two of the characters I like following steward their resources well. They live simple lives. Taking only the resources they need from the land around them.

In reading today’s passage I am called to make the most of my resources, time and energy to invest for the good of others and the glory of God.

“We are stewards, and we must use our abilities to win the lost, encourage the saints, and meet the needs of hurting people.” Wiersbe

Hugh Stephenson 14 days ago

“Money isn’t everything but its way ahead of whatever is in 2nd place”

How many times did I hear that from my Mom growing up? A lot. Enough to have it cemented into my heart, therefore my head. She grew up in extreme difficulty so I get it, in part.

Verse 13b “You cannot serve God and money”

I have been trying to talk myself out of this truth since I realized it was true. That point came when I was serving money well and had worked my way far from God.

In some ways I am still trying to do it.

Which is better? – giving it all away and living an extremely simple and no-frills life? Or tithing while keeping the rest and working to use it faithfully for God’s purposes?

I’m trying to do the latter, but not sure I am succeeding; which probably means I’m failing.

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