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Parable Of The Shrewd Manager is an often misunderstood story about a servant who earned respect through dishonesty. We'll learn what this story meant then...and now. 

Parable Of The Shrewd Manager

Harmony Of The Gospels Series-32, Luke 16:1-15

For more information about Jesus see these books on the History of Jesus Christ

What do we set aside, today, to secure our future? This is an ugly subject for most of us. We don't think beyond this year, this month, this pay period or this day. I'll bet if statistics could be taken on this, we'd find fewer than 50% of us financially plan beyond this pay period and fewer than 10% beyond this year. Think about it. When we buy something on a credit card and make the minimum payment, we end up paying 5 times the retail price, just so we can have it today. Every year, when my yearly auto insurance bill came, I'd say, "Oh no! How am I going to pay that?" As if I didn't know it was coming. I paid my bills that way for 20 years before It finally dawned on me I didn't have to live that way. I could plan how much I needed for giving, savings, bills, medical expenses, maintenance, taxes, Christmas, vacations, etc. for the whole year, then put aside the money every pay day to cover them. Wow! That changed my life. I was no longer serving money… it was serving me. If you've never heard of this, circle it. It's worth the price of admission. None of our bills changed, but the amount we had to pay decreased. Why? Instead of paying interest to make payments on all that stuff, we earn interest by making the payments to ourselves in advance.

This is the power of planning just our money for just one year. If we planned for the rest of our lives, it would be even more powerful. If we planned our time and our money for the rest of our lives, it's more powerful, yet. But, this isn't the point…it's just an example of the point. In Luke 16:1-15, Jesus is challenging His disciples (us) not to plan for this life, but beyond it, to eternity. You'll have to stop here and read this for yourself. He's saying not to plan for worldly wealth, but for true riches, in God's kingdom. That's the point! It always amazes me how many "Christians" don't believe in eternal life. Oh, we'll give it lip service to impress other Christians, but when it comes to our daily decisions, it's clear we don't think in those terms. We can tell by our spending patterns that most of us don't believe in next year, have serious doubts about next month. Who can think of eternity? Would we do anything differently if we knew everything we do, everything we say affects our lives forever? Would we treat people differently? Would we change even our money management? If we truly believed how we used our money in this life could change our life for eternity, wouldn't that change our priorities a bit? Well, that's what Jesus is saying in this section of Scripture. Our challenge is living like we believe Him, because…

What we do with what we've been given determines what we'll get.

1. Past: Let's take a look at the situation when Jesus makes this shocking revelation. Last lesson we discussed the battle between God and religion. It's good to remember, because, as near as we can tell, this is the same conversation with the same people present. We remember the religious leaders, the Pharisees, were constantly and increasingly at odds with Jesus. This tension will only increase until, finally, in a few lessons, we'll study how they did more than talk about killing Him. Jesus not only knows of their plans, He's counting on them to fulfill His plan. Every time we read of the boldness with which Jesus took on the religious leaders, we should keep in mind that He knew this would result in His murder. We studied last week how He told these religious people that finding "sinners" was more important to God than keeping them. Right on the heels of that, Jesus begins today's teaching of a dishonest manager who didn't do what he was assigned and then steals from his master. He did it to buy the favor of those he thought could help him after being fired.

Jesus tells them in this story, to be trustworthy and shrewd with what little they have in this world so they can have true riches in heaven. In no uncertain terms, He tells them, "You cannot serve both God and money." The Bible says the Pharisees sneered because they loved money (not just had money but loved it). Jesus then turned their sneers around in vs 15 by telling them they were the dishonest managers because they honored what God detested. I told you the tension was increasing. In those days, the religious people believed that health and wealth were signs of being holier and closer to God. If you were sick or poor, there must be some kind of sin in your life. They had literally made money their God, using it as a sign of godliness. Some religious people do the same today.

Continued at Parable Of The Shrewd Manager-2

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