September 19, 2004

Luke 16:1-13

[1] Jesus said to his disciples, "There was once a rich man who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. [2] So he called him in and said, 'What's this I hear about you? You're fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.'

[3] "The manager said to himself, 'What am I going to do? I've lost my job as manager. I'm not strong enough for a laboring job, and I'm too proud to beg. . . . [4] Ah, I've got a plan. Here's what I'll do . . . then when I'm turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.'

[5] "Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'

[6] "He replied, 'A hundred jugs of olive oil.'

"The manager said, 'Here, take your bill, sit down here--quick now--write fifty.'

[7] "To the next he said, 'And you, what do you owe?'

"He answered, 'A hundred sacks of wheat.'

"He said, 'Take your bill, write in eighty.'

[8] "Now here's a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. [9] I want you to be smart in the same way--but for what is right--using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."

[10] Jesus went on to make these comments:

If you're honest in small things,
you'll be honest in big things;
[11] If you're a crook in small things,
you'll be a crook in big things.

[12] If you're not honest in small jobs,
who will put you in charge of the store?

[13] No worker can serve two bosses:
He'll either hate the first and love the second
Or adore the first and despise the second.
You can't serve both God and the Bank.

[The Message]

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1. So often we get trapped by thinking that GOD is separate from the world we live in. We listen for GOD's special voice and vision to us and not to what we can learn from our own behaviors with one another who are made in GOD's image. Can GOD work through the developed skill of a surgeon to bring healing? Yes. Can we learn from the surgeon about developing skill and how we might apply that to our life and journey toward GOD? Yes.

In Jesus' day, as ours (think lobbyists), influence in another's life is developed through gift giving and other monetary means. Can GOD work through the influence-peddling of pork-barrel politicians? Yes. Can we learn from the lobbyist how we might influence people and apply that to our life and journey toward GOD? Yes.

2. The New Interpreter's Study Bible notes: "Using money to make friends draws on social reality in in the Greco-Roman world, where the exchange of money created, maintained, or solidified various forms of friendship. Within its narrative setting, however, Jesus' counsel "to make friends" should be read in terms of friendship with the poor -- that is, with persons who could not be expected to return the favor. Such giving is 'without strings attached.'"

3. An additional note says: "In the Greco-Roman world, it was in fact, possible for a slave to be owned by two masters; however, because the two masters -- God and Wealth -- are so diametrically opposed it would be impossible for someone to serve them both." Here we might think about the realities of those who feel constrained to have two jobs. The demands of each one, not taking the other into consideration, could add up to impossible demands upon one's time, energy, and health -- even to the point of having to choose between them.

Let's learn as much from the realities of the world as we do from the speculations, and extension of same, about GOD.

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