Luke moves on to another day on the journey to the cross. Jesus is talking about a “shrewd manager.” My teenagers would have said, “That was a sly guy.” It means being deceitful but not in a bad way. A manager was accused of mismanaging possessions and told he was going to have to give an account. He was going to loose his job so with his remaining time he created begging rights with the people whose accounts he managed by cutting their debts in half. Jesus rather than condemning the man for his dishonesty, surprises us by commending the man’s use of money to solidify relationship rather than taking advantage of people to insure his future. Jesus commends him! Very interesting. Jesus does not create a right-wrong line of definition about stealing but rather looks at the heart, the intent of the manager.
We like the manager are entrusted with resources. We are given gifts. We call it talents or that which makes us unique. Maybe we are not operatic or Olympic but we each have a purpose and a life to live here. I would wager to say that none of us live up to our potential. We all fall short. In fact, that is the definition of sin. Sin with a capital “S” is being separated from God because of our sins, small “s.” The things we do wrong whether intended or whether by default, separate us from God and each other. There are things I have done wrong and things I have left undone. We all fall short and like the manager deserve to be fired. Lent challenges us to look at that manager and realize that it could be me.
Grace is not having our debt cut in half as the manager did but it is the owner looking at our heart and our intentions. Are we living with integrity and being trustworthy with the gifts God has given us? God does not ask if we are the best but looks at us through eyes of understanding and love. The shrewd manager knows he cannot work and do it by himself and throws himself on the mercy of the community. We throw ourselves on the mercy of God. We hold on to Jesus who goes to Jerusalem to represent us.
The beautiful verse in this story is verse13, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.” During Lent we take our time to examine our hearts and honestly ask ourselves who we love and who we serve. But never forget it is not our evaluation or our friend’s evaluation that counts but the evaluation of a God who knows us through and through and surprises us with grace. Blessings as you draw close to him and trust him!
Lenten charity challenge: “To earn money to feed their children, women in Zimbabwe started raising chickens. The ELCA Hunger Appeal helped provide a loan to start this project. Give 15 cents for each time you ate chicken or eggs this week.”