Luke 16 1-13 The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
Who in this last week of thinking about our queen has really thought about or been jealous of her money?
How many of all the eulogies we have heard have been centred on that fact?
They have been about her service, her faith, humour, but money
When her funeral happens in the morning how much will be about that.
Not any I have heard, a few republicans have mentioned it in regards to her role, but not her.
She got the subject of money correct among many things.
On the subject of money, we do need money…..
On the other end of the scale Ive been poor and having enough is nicer, it solves many issues. I recall one time needing to do some overtime to pay a utility bill, and I had an MOT, and that failed, and then I couldn’t use the car to do the overtime to pay the bill, and of course now I had two bills to pay. Ive seen the shanty towns in Colombo, and in Johannesburg and my problems shrink further still compared to that.
Having enough relieves that sort of stress, and in our story its that sort of stress all the people that owed the money were no doubt u under owing so much money.
Because all the people spoken about today who were owed money were rich?
All those that owed it were tenant farmers, and my uncle bob was one of those and he didn’t have much money I can tell you. Life was hard, hand to mouth, making their own food on an allotment to fill the gaps.
There are various interpretations of this parable, and I am comforted that Paula Gooder in places found it as confusing as me? But here’s where I landed, the word used for squander is actually closer to spreading around, so a sort of wasteful sharing if you like.
I think its about recognising that which we sow on earth is reverberated in heaven, part of that which is reverberated is what we do with what we own, are owed, that make cake a difference. that is to say the manager is rewarded for spreading about the money and alleviating the stress that the tenant farmers were under by the landlord.
Why? Because as he said you cannot serve two masters, your eyes are either on gathering in as much money as you can, or transversely while owed a lot, you can gather in as much as is fair, or as much as people can give when the bill is owed and the MOT’s due.
The idea in this story is in not being a slave to money means you tend to be a little more generous and therefore spread a little more happiness around. The reverse leads to the reverse, you gather in every penny, are not generous, and you spread sadness.
I think also that a message comes across, that the landowner was less worried about the squandering of money, of that spreading around but that it had to have a purpose, to make his tenants lives happier, and less stressful.
So essentially this parable is saying, our lives can tell a different story than the money we have, or the wealth we accumulate if that isn’t the sole lord and master of our lives.
This is why I think the queen albeit immeasurably wealthy, her life told a different story. Her legacy isn’t all about that, it’s a fact but to most not the most important one. In fact I am not sure I or many would swap my average life of comfort, for her wealthy life of service to all.
As in this story its not not having money that’s the problem its allowing it to take over our lives, our society, our government etc. When we measure the treasures, we store up in heaven none of them will have pound signs attached, of that I am sure. When we measure all those things that detract from them, how we treated others as a result of measuring the world as profit and loss will be part of it.
That idea extends into so many things, into our health system, social security, refugees, how we help those that are homeless and all those in need. Its why I always wince when we measure those things solely by money and not by real need. Because as Jesus is showing us here, that is the real sin, not squandering the money, but where its squandered and how and why.
We have a god of outrageous love and grace, and by any terms when love is given like that it could be measured to be squandered, but its not really. Because we get it back when we are in the phase of existence our dear queen is, where shis is inheriting all the rewards of her grace and kindness as we speak I am sure.
Money and how we treat people as a result of how we spend , share or withhold it , has ramifications far beyond our earthly debt. Jesus did just clear the debt because the landowner was owed it, but he also didn’t squash the people that owed it. The landowner was owed money but not obsessed by it.
So much of our society is obsessed by things, and has lost the idea that sharing those things stores up treasures in heaven used well.
How empty does celebrity or fame, or bling become when we see what we can really be given in return. I used to get ever more guilty as I progressed in my career thinking its about giving everything away and living like a hermit. But its not about that so when
in Luke 6 Jesus says
anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
Todays passage shows it doesn’t matter if you have another 2 coats indoors, if you give to whoever needs,
So our goal isn’t to necessarily become poor, but to not be defined or to define ourselves by what we have, rather by what money enables us to do for others, how we can use that wealth to store up treasures in heaven.
Our legacy is really when we are gone and people speak about us and we face his judgment, that the measure isn’t what we had, but whether it obsessed us, owned us , defined us. Listening to the stories of the queen this week, I think she got that right, and made our world, our country our commonwealth a better place and that’s whats going to define her.
On a smaller scale perhaps that what the goal of our lives should be