The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
“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. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
“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?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Community is one of the most important things in this world. The Shrewd manager in the parable had to find this out the hard way. The moment he finds out his economical capital is worthless; he suddenly finds that he needs others and starts building social capital. Ironically, he does this by wasting more of his former master’s money; exactly why he got fired in the first place. It’s interesting to read that Jesus is in a way praising this idea of being shrewd with money, he doesn’t fully condone the actions of the banker in the story, but he tells us that as children of the light we should use our worldly wealth to make friends for ourselves. Wealth is only temporary, so use it to invest in eternal things.
Psychological research tells us that the way to get the most joy out of our material goods is to share them. We are humans that are made for community, not dragons that need a pile of golden treasure to sit on. Think about it: the best stories we tell over a good cup of coffee are about friends, about community and about people we meet. Talking about expensive cars gets boring very quickly. Cars will break down, but if we truly meet each other, we are forever changed.
If the shrewd manager in the story thinks he can strengthen relationships by committing a sin and stealing from his former master, imagine how much more you can do if you come from a position of integrity and respect. Through our trust in Jesus, we can break loose of the endless materialism of our society. We know there is something bigger than earthly wealth; Jesus has shown us that true community is where the kingdom of God becomes visible.
Prayer: Lord, point my eyes towards the people I can bless today, let me give my earthly belongings to strengthen your eternal community.
Action: Give 3 things away today, if you don’t have anything materialistic to give, give someone a heartfelt compliment.
This Thought was written by Thomas Mattheus Govaers