“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. The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.’” (Luke 16:13-15)
I am home after being in a rehab facility for healing from knee surgery. I am walking unassisted, slowly and carefully, and able to do all my exercises here. I can bend my healing knee, put on my shoes and socks, and pick up things off the floor. The reason I can do all this is three-fold. I let my circle of friends and church know about the operation so they could pray along with me during each stage. Secondly, I did physical therapy for three months before surgery, strengthening my leg. And during rehab, I took the necessary pain medication to push myself during my physical therapy sessions, exercised and walked after every meal, and chose to do so rather than get off the meds. My deliberate choices enabled me to heal at an extraordinary rate compared to others who are eager to drive and get back to their regular routines, and thus no longer focus primarily on healing. What we choose as our priorities make a tremendous difference in our lives and the lives of others. My prayer partners and I now have this to thank God for and remember that healing, like anything else that is good, requires work and concentration.,
Our passage today, taken from the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke, teaches us that our focus on money will detract from our focus on God. The audience for the parable was a mix of Pharisees, other Jews, and Christ’s disciples. They all needed to hear about the trusted steward for the master who was guilty of mismanagement of his master’s money. He was entirely focused on his own financial status and benefit in his employment, without concern for his master’s well-being. His dedication to his finances made it impossible for him to give the proper attention to his job of serving his master loyally. The end of the parable is ironic, in my opinion. “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” (Luke 16:8) Jesus was not teaching us to embezzle, abuse the funds of others, or cheat people. Sin is sin. He was commending the manager for his cleverness when he was in danger of being impoverished, which would dismantle all his work of having a solid financial foundation for himself. He did what would ensure his best future.
Our Lord desires that we be so concerned with our future with him that we will be wise, using every opportunity to focus on the kingdom of God, to be in the best position to live with him eternally. This is what Jesus wanted for the Pharisees and his disciples who were listening to the parable. Our financial wealth or poverty will be a non-issue at our death, although we should plan for it to be left in the best hands when we’re finished our race here. Christian financial stewardship is to be an outcome of our love for Christ and desire to honor him, even with our personal finances.
How can you honor God more in the way you see and handle your personal financial management? Will you be shrewd, wise, and loyal to Christ, not letting them rob you of your time with him?