I would like to understand verse 8b and 9 of chapter 16 of the Gospel of Luke.
Before I answer this question, it is important to see the text in which the Lord Jesus said …
The parable of unrighteous manager
It is written in the Gospel of Luke chapter 16 and it is the following:
Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 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; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And 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?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. 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. “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 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.” (Luke 16:1-13)(NASB)
There can be more questions found in verses 8 and 9 of this parable and I will respond each of them …
Why did the master praise the unrighteous manager?
Even verse 8 already gives the answer to the question by saying that “his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly” How was this shrewdness manifested? Let us return to the beginning of the parable to better understand. The master decided to remove him from the management because of those who came and accused him that he was squandering his possessions. The duty of the manager was to administer the master’s possessions well, to invest and thus, to make a profit. From what he heard from the people who had accused the manager, the master made the conclusion that he could not invest, could not plan and could not manage well. When he saw how he had called the debtors and released them from a part of debt, just because they could later welcome him in their homes, the owner realized that it was not true that his manager used to squander his possessions, because he could plan and invest and, the most important, he could invest and build relationships with people – something very important in business. Then, you may have got another question …
Why did Jesus give the unrighteous manager as an example?
Let no one understand that it is good to be unjust and to decide by yourself on the property that has been entrusted to you and that is not yours. The Lord Jesus clearly said in verse 8 that this was an unrighteous manager and he is a son of this world, a son of darkness (compared with the children of light), however, he made a plan and thought how to invest in building relationships.Then someone will say …
How do these truths apply to us and how to make friends for ourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness?
Everything we have, all possession that we have, we have received from God. All Scripture teaches us this. For example:
Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not often consider theyears of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20)(NASB)
So the wealth we have received and we have are from God and are called in this text unrighteous because they do not belong to us, so that we can do everything we want with them without accountability. From God we have received and we are all accountable to Him for how we invest this wealth. That is why Jesus said further:
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. (Luke 16:9)
In the First Epistle to Timothy, Paul writes in this regard:
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they maytake hold of that which is life indeed. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)(NASB)
May God help us to invest our wealth wisely for the salvation of our neighbor and to build relationships that will endure throughout eternity.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru