Please explain the parable in Luke 16: 1-15?
Let’s read the passage first:
Luke 16:1-15 (NASB)
1 ¶ 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.
2 “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.’
3 “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.
4 ‘I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’
5 “And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 “And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’
7 “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.’
8 “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.
9 “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.
10 “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.
11 “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?
12 “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?
13 “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.”
14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.
15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
Interesting, isn’t it? Why would Jesus tell a parable in which it seems a wasteful manager, using deceptive means is commended by the Lord?
There are two keys to understand this parable. The first key is found in verse 12:
“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?
That which is our own is what we can keep. We often like to say that we own a number of things–our homes, our cars, our furniture, our clothes, our bank accounts. But the reality is, we can keep none of these things. Our houses are sold to others when we die, our cars wear out, our furniture wears out, our clothes wear out, and you can’t take your bank account with you when you die. The only things we can really keep–the things we can keep for all eternity- are the treasures that we have laid up in heaven (Matt. 6:19-34). Everything else, the things that we like to believe and say are ours, really belong to God, and we are just using them while we are here on Earth.
The second key to understanding this passage is the personal realization that each of us is the wasteful manager in this parable. God has entrusted everything that we say we own to our management. It is really His, and we are just using it – we hope for His glory and His purposes. We waste much of what He has entrusted to us by spending it on our desires.
We will all give an account of how we have managed what
He has entrusted to us. He has said that our time of management is coming to an end, which is a reference to our death. The question is what will we do with God’s wealth entrusted to us in the short time we have left on Earth? Will we continue to spent it on ourselves, or will we use it to make friends with those who will welcome us into eternal dwellings?
That is the reason why the master in the parable commended the manager for his actions. The master represents God. He wants us to use His wealth to help people. He does not want us to spend all of the resources left to our management on ourselves. He wants us to show the same kind of grace and forgiveness that He has shown to us.
Wealth is God’s way of training us and testing us while we are on Earth. Jesus said in verse eleven;
“Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?
In verse 13 he says; “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.”
We need to serve God with the wealth that He has entrusted to us, and not just serve ourselves.