Bible Study on How To Use Money for the Kingdom
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager, Luke 16:1-15
The parable in Luke 16:1-16 makes no sense to me. What’s your take on that?
My Bible Study on This Parable
The shrewd manager is being fired for reported dishonesty. He then makes a deal with each creditor, and lowers their bills. He takes nothing. Jesus extracts several lessons from this story. The lessons come in verses 8-13 which in turn helps understand the parable.
8 “His lord commended the dishonest manager because he had done wisely, for the children of this world are, in their own generation, wiser than the children of the light.9 I tell you, make for yourselves friends by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when you fail, they may receive you into the eternal tents.10 He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.11 If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?12 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 else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You aren’t able to serve God and Mammon.”
So here is my take:
Even evil people know that by being generous to others, they will become your friends. Children of the kingdom often don't learn how to give money to gain friends to help the kingdom. Many of those so benefited will enter the kingdom, and then give thanks that you were generous to them not for your own benefit but for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. See verses eight and nine.
So the steward who had been dishonest by discounting debts is praised by Jesus not for his dishonesty, but for his knowledge of this principle that generosity will gain friends.
The Second point to the parable is the dishonest steward was denied having any more trust due to his dishonesty. So Jesus says if that is true for him, how could God ever trust any spiritual riches to this person? See verse 11. Thus integrity over money is one way that God determines whether he will entrust you with spiritual riches. This might mean spiritual understanding, spiritual strength, etc. The true riches of the Kingdom.
The third point of the parable was that the love of money will cause one to lose the rewards of one's employment. Rather than loving and serving his master, the dishonest servant was serving himself. His dishonesty came to the attention of the master, and is mentioned in verse one as the cause of the dismissal of the servant. Jesus then in fact says the same thing would happen to us if we were dishonest with worldly wealth because God actually gives it to us to use for his benefit. But when we use it only for our benefit, and not to gain friends for the kingdom, God will take away what we have. See verse 12. For we have not been faithful in what actually belongs to God – our worldly wealth. So God will take away that which actually does belong to us so far in our life journey – wisdom, spiritual understanding, etc., and likely also the money.
In sum, I gather from this parable that the right purpose and use of money has a spiritual component. Those who preach a health and wealth gospel exclusive of satisfying God's conditions for the same are misleading people. They urge you to believe in God's promises of wealth which they read entirely out of context of the conditions for such promises. Then they teach if you believe those unconditionally-read promises and have faith, then God will bring you riches. However, if you read Deuteronomy 28, God promises all kinds of financial blessings for obeying him, and all kinds of financial mishaps for disobeying. That is the first misstep by the health and wealth gospel. They ignore the conditions. They make money your master, and not you the master of your money. They invite you to do the very thing Jesus equates to being a slave/ servant to a master other than God. See verse 13.
Second, Jesus is saying something a little more Deep -- that even with the financial blessings that God might send upon you for obedience, it's still not your money. And you must use it responsibly to serve the kingdom. If not, God will take away not only the financial blessings you had, but the spiritual ones -- which are eternally more important. See verse 12. In a sense, Jesus was explaining the purpose of the blessings promised in Deuteronomy 28. It wasn't to make you rich. It was to make you more fruitful servant and a better witness for God.
What do you think?