Jesus often spoke to his audiences in parables. These parables had obvious meanings but some had hidden meanings that were not as clear on the surface. In this series of studies, we are going to examine and discuss a few parables of Jesus’ that may be lesser known. In dissecting and examining these parables, we are going to uncover the hidden or unclear truths in these parables. The first parable we are going to discuss is the parable of the shrewd manager. So let’s begin our study on parables.
The parable of the shrewd manager takes place in Luke 16:1-8a. Let’s take a look at this parable.
Luke 16:1-8a 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.”
This is a short but powerful parable. Fortunately, Jesus gave us the meaning behind the parable. However, the explanation can sometimes be unclear. In the following verse, Jesus gives us his explanations.
Luke 16:8b-9 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.
This can be an interesting yet confusing explanation. Let’s break it down. The “people of this world” are the unbelievers. The “people of the light” are the children or servants of God. So why does Jesus say that those who do not believe are more shrewd than those who do believe? Jesus is trying to make an example out of the manager. The manager was wise enough to make a decision for himself to help himself down here on earth. He lessened the debts of those who belonged to his master so that they would welcome him into his home when he lost his job. He was trying to help himself and make his situation better. Those who believe should be just as wise in helping themselves get to heaven when this life is over. In the following sentence, Jesus tells us to use worldly wealth to gain friends or to help friends so that we will be welcomed into heaven. We first must realize that the money we have is not ours, it belongs to God. Psalms 24:1 declares that everything is the Lord’s. Since money belongs to God, we should use it for good reasons, instead of for evil reasons. Money and possessions will be gone one day, they do not last. Because of that reason, we should use what is given to us for good, so that when we die we will receive our reward.
To apply this even further, Jesus is trying to say that we are the shrewd manager and God is the master. Everything here belongs to God and He has given everything to us. This is the same as the master giving his possessions to the manager. If we as believers take care of what God has given us and we use it for good, we receive heaven as our reward. Jesus is trying to tell us to not get caught up in earthly possessions but to use what God has given us for the greater good. To bring people to Christ and help ourselves get to heaven. That is the meaning of the parable.
Jesus goes on to say in verse 13 of Luke chapter 16 that,
Luke 16:13 “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.””
In other words, we cannot have a love for money and a love for God. We can only love money or love God. Why? Because of what Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” We cannot love something that leads us to evil and love God at the same time. It is not possible. If we do not love money then we should use it for God’s purposes because if we do, we show our love for Him.
In conclusion, this parable is an interesting story and can take us in many directions. All in all, we must use God’s money and possessions wisely and we should use it for righteous reasons so that we may receive our reward in heaven once this life is over. We must also not have a love for money so we can focus on using it for good and focus on loving God wholeheartedly.