Jesus also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who was informed of accusations that his manager was wasting his assets. So he called the manager in and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Turn in the account of your administration, because you can no longer be my manager.’ Then the manager said to himself, ‘What should I do, since my master is taking my position away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m too ashamed to beg. I know what to do so that when I am put out of management, people will welcome me into their homes.’ So he contacted his master’s debtors one by one. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ The man replied, ‘A hundred measures of olive oil.’ The manager said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ The second man replied, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ The manager said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager because he acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their contemporaries than the people of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by how you use worldly wealth, so that when it runs out you will be welcomed into the eternal homes.
“The one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and the one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with the true riches? And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
—Luke 16:1–13 (NET)
Jesus was an amazing storyteller, but some of his stories take a sharp left turn. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, there’s a twist no one saw coming.
Jesus once told a story about a terrible servant who gets caught wasting his employer’s money. The man is fired, but before he is removed from his post, he comes up with a plan to save himself from a life of poverty. The rest of the story reads like a modern television drama about an anti-hero who games the system with a beautifully devised long con. He settles accounts with everyone who owes his master money, slashing the amount each borrower owes—without his boss’s permission. He’s a crook, blatantly dishonest. But here’s the odd thing: Jesus applauded the man’s actions!
In explaining this parable to His disciples, Jesus said, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (Luke 16:9 NLT). Of course, Jesus wasn’t suggesting that we rip people off or break the rules to get ahead. Instead, His story makes the point that every decision we make, including our financial ones, should be made with an eye to the future, an eye to what will last.
Our goal in saving should be bigger than maintaining a rainy-day fund. Our spending patterns ought to do more than satisfy our wants and make ends meet. And giving shouldn’t come from a sense of obligation or merely because it’s the right thing to do. Jesus reminds us that our financial choices affect the people around us. We should live our lives right now as if we are going to be homeless in the life to come, as if the way we treat others today will determine how many people will invite us in off the streets.
Seems extreme, right? In the coming kingdom, no one will be left out in the cold. There’s talk of mansions (John 14:2), treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20), and more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). And even if someone did find themselves living on the streets, there are rumors that those roads will be paved with gold (Revelation 21:21). Jesus’ point in telling this parable was not to address a little-known housing crisis in the age to come. Instead, He was trying to shock His disciples—and us—into a new set of priorities.
Everyone wants financial freedom, but for followers of Jesus, that’s too small a goal. Like the jerk in Jesus’ story, we need to think bigger. We need to think long-term. Save. Spend. Give. Just do it all with other people in mind.
“There is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’”