Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Luke 16:1-13 has often had headings applied to it by editors. Sadly, those headings, in an attempt to capture the essential idea in a brief and memorable way, normally heap abuse on the “manager” or “steward” in Jesus’ teaching. This is especially sad, since that character is a portrayal of us.
The accusation against the man is that he is not using his master’s resources effectively. If we consider this in light of God’s Commandments, it seems he is violating the 2nd Commandment by misusing the name of his master, who is a figure of God.
What is the master’s priority? He has been doing business with these people and he wants to continue doing so. He wants them to acknowledge his bill, but he apparently realizes that they are not actually able to pay the bill. Does this sound familiar? God has been working in our world, with us sinners. He is caring for our needs by using his resources. He wants us to recognize that we owe a debt to him, though we are never going to be able to satisfy the debt. We can never repay all our sin. So he holds his Son, Jesus, responsible for the full payment. Yet the debt we owe to God is something that He has commanded and that he commanded for a reason. How are we going to deal with that? We do what we are able to, as well as we can, now.
At the moment of negotiation, the steward takes on the role of Christ. He says he will take care of everything else. Leave it with him.
How do we act like the steward? We are representing God in his dealings with the world. People recognize the bill they have, their outstanding balance of righteousness. They are troubled by it. When the come to Christ’s Church, asking for help, our response is to acknowledge that they owe a debt of righteousness. They can’t pay it. We say it is taken care of by Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf. Does God let them off free? Well, in a way, he does. But in another way, we are called to live a life of what righteousness we are able, a life of repentance, a life of belief in God through Jesus. That’s what we call our world to do also.
May the Lord of all continue to work in His people for the good of the whole world.
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