The Parable of the shrewd Manager

This morning I read in Luke's gospel this curious story.

Luke 16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 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.’
3 “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— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘Nine hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
8 “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. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

Over the decade in all of the Bible studies I've been in, when encountering this parable, we struggle with it. Is Jesus endorsing fraud? Is he endorsing bribery?

This morning I had other ideas. First I thought of the multitudes of money grubbing preachers, and they have been a part of the church for millenia. But if I were an exposed money grubbing preacher soon out of a job for my money grubbing ways I would apply this parable by changing my message, to one of exorbitant grace. "You owe God, but not nearly what you thought you did." A revised tune may draw a new crowd. Because when your message is love and grace, the ones attracted to that message will offer back love and grace.

But I'm not a money grubbing preacher. Then what do I do with this parable?

I lavished God's rich graces on myself and denied them to others, telling them they were in more debt than I. Specifically, I wrote about LGBT persons this way. I repent. I have stopped fearing God if I am too generous with the abundance of his grace and love.

Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18 I join hands with those who want to loose on earth what must be loosed in heaven.


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