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One Clear Message
It is a very difficult parable. We are not sure what the message is. We are not sure what message Jesus wanted to get across through this parable. There is no obvious connection between the parable and Jesus’ concluding message at the end.
Let us start with Jesus’ message at the end.
We hear two messages
Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. (Luke 16:10)
No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth (Mammon). (Luke 16:13)
But we are not sure how these two messages are related to the parable Jesus gave us.
But there is one clear message.
Money and living a Christian life are directly connected. To live a good Christian life, we have to have a clear understanding about money.
Enrich and Destroy
Money is good but it is dangerous. Money can enrich our lives but at the same time, money can totally destroy our lives and others.
God gave us money so that our life can be sustained. Not only to sustain our life but also to enrich our lives, God gave us money. God wants us to enjoy a good and abundant life. Money can do that for you.
I said, “GOD GAVE US MONEY.” It is God who gave it to us to use it. So it is God’s. That is what we believe about money. Like the manager in the parable, we are only a manager who manages God’s money.
The manager was given the authority to take care of the money. DURING THAT TIME, the economic system was different from now. There was no such thing as fee or payment. The owner set a certain amount to be collected and whatever the manager collected beyond what the owner wanted, it was his income. That was how tax collectors collected the tax. (Joseph Fitzmyer)
So if the owner wants to get $50 from this olive oil, you sell it for whatever price. Let’s say $55. Then you get $5. That’s your income. It’s like commission.
The manager could enjoy a good and abundant life, by being honest and by being fair. But he was greedy. That greed brought him a disaster. He was about to lose everything he enjoyed. The master told hime that he would be fired.
Money is good but it is dangerous, I said. Money can enrich our lives but at the same time, money can totally destroy our lives, I said.
When this GREED takes over, money is not any more good. Money will not enrich our lives, but it will destroy our lives. When God gave us money to bless our life, he put a warning label and that label is
DO NOT BE GREEDY
The Scripture clearly warns us,
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. (1 Timothy 6:10)
The love of money – that is greed. It is a root of all kinds of evil. It not only destroys your faith but it will also bring so much pain.
Money cannot be mammon. The root word for mammon is money, wealth, profit but also it means “to place trust in.” The same root word for Amen – let it be so.
Picture of Mammon
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13 KJV)
Don’t put your trust in money. Put your trust in God. When you look at US currency, this is inscribed.
IN GOD, WE TRUST
It is like a warning label. We shouldn’t put our trust in money, but in God.
When we put our trust in money, our greed will take over. When greed takes over our life, money can do harm. There is nothing as powerful as money. That’s why money is so attractive. That’s why Jesus compared serving God with serving money.
The True Value
The manager in the parable was greedy. He abused master’s money. He also ripped off people too. Instead of properly charging them, he overcharged them to increase his profit. So when his scam was found out, he started reducing the debt people owed to the master.
The person who owed 100 jugs of olive oil owed 50 jugs of oil to the master but the manager charged 100 jugs. He collected 50 jugs, which was, 100% profit. But when he was about to be fired, he let go of his portion, not just some of it but his entire income, so that he could get a favour from people once he got fired.
By the inevitable situation, he had to be honest and share with others. He was forced to share. He let go of his greed and shared. For his survival. That’s why the master commended him for what he did. He learned to share.
This is a very important lesson about money. When greed takes over, you want to take and take. When you have that kind of attitude about money, money will do a lot of harm. It will destroy who you are. It will make you a very unhappy person. You will lose friends, your family, and your life.
Money is given to you so that you can live a good life. But if greed takes over, it will not give you a good life any more.
You have to learn to share your money. Yes, you have to learn to earn and save money. Yes, you have to learn how to spend money. But the most important thing is, you have to learn how to share what you have.
When you start sharing money, you will see the true value of money. Money becomes a gift and a blessing rather than a curse. Don’t let greed ruin what can be good. It is life’s secret about money.
Happiness Through Sharing
As you share what you have with others, you will become a bigger person. That’s how you become bigger. Not when you grab it for yourself but when you share it with others. You become abundant when you share, not when you have it for yourself. That was what Jesus taught us in a few chapters before today’s story.
Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. (Luke 12:15)
Then Jesus gave a parable about a rich fool who stored his riches in his barn. He said, I have a lot in my barn. Relax, eat, drink, be merry. God said, your life is demanded tonight.
How much you have doesn’t tell you who you are. How much you share tells you who you are.
If you learn to share with small things, then you can share bigger things.
This is the greatest lesson you can teach your children. If you teach them this lesson, you are blessing them with life’s secret of happiness.
There are so many unhappy people because they are selfish. There are so many unhappy people because they are greedy. There are so many happy people who give. There are so many happy people who know how to share life’s good gifts.
Yes, you cannot buy happiness with money. But you can have happiness by sharing. If that is buying happiness with money, then I believe that you can buy happiness with money.
Money is given to you to bless you. But not when you take it with greed but when you take it with gratitude and share it.
Be concrete about how you will share what you have. Make it as your lifestyle.