The Dishonest Manager

Luke 16:1-13

Sermon, Sunday, September 22, 2019

1Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
  10“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. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No 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.”


It was a beautiful day in Houston, Texas.  CEO Jeffrey woke up that morning, showered, ate his breakfast, and went to work, just like any other day.

He drives to his elaborate office in downtown Houston, gets on the elevator of the high-rise building, and takes it to the highest floor.  He gets to his office and enjoys the magnificent view of the city.

It’s not long, however, before he gets a call. 

“CEO Jeffrey, you are to come to the conference room on the fifth floor immediately.”

As he hangs up the phone, his heart begins to pound as he wonders to himself what this could possibly mean.

He walks into the 5th floor conference room and the whole board is all sitting there, and all eyes are on him – His heart is pounding and now his hands are beginning to sweat, and his adrenaline begins to pump through his body.

“Take a seat,” Jeffrey. 

“What is this we hear of you?  Give us an accounting of your management.”

Well, it turns out that Jeffrey is CEO of one of the largest corporations in the US. in 2001, Enron – an American Energy Company, and by the use of accounting loopholes, special purpose entities, and poor financial reporting, the company was able to hide billions of dollars in debt from failed deals and projects. 

Between 1996 and 2000, Enron’s revenue increased to enormous amounts, thereby increasing their stock prices, 401K’s, large-sum bonuses, and payoffs, that gave stock holders and employees a sense of security in their future and for their retirements.

CEO Jeffrey was in the hot seat and his life was about to unravel…

Jesus is sitting with his disciples and is on a roll with telling parables in order to help them understand things of the Kingdom.

In this parable…Similarly, the owner calls in his manager, “What is this I hear about you?  Give me an accounting of your management.” 

Much like the Enron Scandal, the manager is called-out for mis-managing the business that he was entrusted to take care of –

His heart begins to pound, adrenaline running high, his palms sweating – he immediately begins to wonder, “What am I going to do?  I’m not going to go and dig ditches, and it definitely is way beyond me to sit on the streets and beg –

What am I going to do?”

And so, after giving it some thought, he develops a plan.

He brings in each one of the debtors – one by one, he begins to ask them how much they owe. 

The first debtor owed an oil bill that was equivalent to 1000 denarii or about 5 years of salary. 

The manager says, “Tear up that contract.  Write a new one and make it for only 500 denarii.”  In other words, cut the amount you owe by half.

The next debtor owed a wheat bill of about 3000 denarii, about 12-15 years of salary.  Sit down quickly, the manager says – tear up that contract and create another one and make it for only 1500 denarii. 

And, so by doing this with each one of his owner’s debtors, they now were indebted to him!  So, that when he was on the street because he was now unemployed, they would invite him in and give him a place to stay. 

Now here comes the surprise! 

One would think that the owner would be upset and angry that the manager had again just mis-managed his property, but instead the owner “COMMENDS” him for his creativity in making sure that his FUTURE was SAFE and SECURE!

So, what do you think, Children of Light?  What is Jesus wanting us to understand here?

Eric Smallridge, from Tallahassee, FL killed two young women. Eric drove drunk and crashed into their car, killing the two 20-year-olds instantly.

One of the mothers, Renee believed justice was served when Eric was sentenced to 22 years in prison. She said in a news article, “I felt like our system had served us well and justice had been served.

Four years passed by and Renee came to realize that it wasn’t just Eric – the boy who drove drunk and killed her daughter, was in prison…

She too was in prison.  “It’s not going to do me any good, and it’s not going to do him any good. I would grow old and bitter and angry and hateful. … In my opinion, forgiveness is the only way to heal.”

And so she begins her healing process by going to the judge and asked that Eric’s prison sentence be cut in half.  Instead of 22 years in prison – He would now only serve 11 years.

You know, it’s this thing called GRACE – this thing called, FORGIVENESS that changes everything.

What the dishonest manager did when he called in his debtors was offer them GRACE.  He FORGAVE half of what they owed in order to secure his FUTURE in this WORLD! 

Renee, the mother of the daughter that was killed by a drunk driver, offered GRACE when she asked that his prison sentence to cut in half, which SECURES HER FUTURE in GOD’s KINGDOM!

What they did, in each case, was RADICAL!  It was over-the-top! 

What is this I hear about you!  I want an accounting of your management!

In October 2001, the Enron Scandal hit the news…

In the end, none of the financial success was real…only on paper and through the use of illegal accounting procedures did it appear that ENRON was a Fortune 500 company. 

When the investigation began, the stock plummeted and Enron’s 63 billion in assets made it the largest corporate bankruptcy in the United States history at that time.

Jeffrey Skilling, CEO of Enron was sentenced to 24 years of prison.  In 2014, his sentence was reduced to 14 years.  He was released just last year.

You see…This is a MATTER of the HEART!  This is about where our allegiance lies – things of this world – especially money…Or is our allegiance things of God’s Kingdom?

What is this I hear about you!  I want an accounting of your management!

Things of this world can quickly consume us forcing us to creatively come up with ways to get out of the situations that we have gotten ourselves into so that we can secure our future.

But it is not this world that Jesus is concerned with – It’s our eternal home – It is God’s Kingdom that Jesus wants us to invest our money, our time, and our abilities for the Goodness of God’s Kingdom.

It is to do the unthinkable, the unbelievable, to offer grace, forgiveness, and love that is over-the-top, RADICAL and CREATIVITY– in such profound ways that are UNFATHOMABLE! 

Because you see— CHILDREN of LIGHT!  That is what Jesus did for you!

God’s grace poured out for you, upon you, and through you!

Jesus did the unthinkable, the unbelievable; it was so RADICAL and so over-th-top, and the most unfathomable that we could ever imagine –

that day when He walked into Jerusalem knowing what he was about to do for our sake –

And he did it.  He climbed up on the cross – and He gave an accounting of His management so boldly and so profoundly that for me, I can’t help to wonder-

WHY in this world would God love me that much?

It’s Unbelievable – Unthinkable – It is so RADICAL – It is UNFATHOMABLE!

But God did it!  Through God’s AMAZING grace, love and forgiveness –

My FUTURE – YOUR FUTURE –

Is safe and secure!

Amen.

About pastorterrihttps://pastorterri.wordpress.comI serve as the pastor at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Augusta, GA.

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