18 September 2016

Luke 16:1-13

"Then the manager said to himself ... 'I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes'. So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' He answered, 'A hundred jugs of olive oil'. He said to him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty'." (v.3-6)

Psalm: Psalm 113


In this story Jesus tells us that the material world, including money and economics, matters. He had been a tradesman, working as a carpenter (Mark 6:3). He would have understood the economic world of work, which included dishonest managers and wealthy bosses who fleeced the poor. Into that situation he brought questions of how God's will is done. God is involved in the material world which is the beginning of wealth.

A few verses later, Jesus refers to "dishonest wealth" (v. 11). Maybe some would say "filthy lucre". Money is tainted, Jesus seems to say. It makes the economic world go around but it presses compromises on us. And today, many people understand that. We are part of an economic system characterised by inequality. Many of us living in western nations are on the winning team, like the manager and boss in Jesus' story.

(Just after this story comes another about a rich man who didn't care about the poor man living at his gate (Luke 16:19-31). When he dies, the rich man is not welcomed into heaven, but finds himself cut off because of his relationship with the poor.)

So how we use our money matters. It changes who we are and marks our soul. After the story, Jesus tells his listeners that if they don't prove trustworthy with money then they won't be entrusted with "true riches" (verse 11). And within the story he seems to be showing how to be trustworthy with money - like the manager, use it to make friends with the poor, because they are the ones who will welcome you into the kingdom of God.

To Ponder

  • To what use do you put your money, and how does that change you as a person?
  • In what ways can money be used to befriend the poor with integrity?
  • What kind of national economics does Jesus' story point towards?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Lunn

Andrew Lunn is the Chair of the Manchester and Stockport District of the Methodist Church, working with circuits and ministers from Salford to Buxton. His ministry has been mainly in urban settings, and he spent 11 years working in theological education in Durham.