“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9)
One· of the clearest passages on managership is the story Christ told about the cheating manager (Luke 16). The story is straightforward: an owner discovered his manager was a cheat. When the owner announced his intention to fire him, the shrewd fellow used his boss’s assets to win friends for himself officially cancelling large portions of others’ debts. Jesus made a single point: even worldlings are smart enough to use available resources to prepare for their future. So why are the “people of the light,” who should know better – acting so stupidly?
Jesus contrasted temporal and eternal wealth: the temporal is very little at best, sort of a test; the eternal, great wealth (verse 10). The temporal, fake, like play money; the eternal, the real thing (vs. 11). Then the punchline: Even that small amount of play money you have isn’t yours! You are just a manager of some of God’s property (vs. 12). It’s impossible to live for both, to work with equal fervor for temporal and eternal payoffs, “…you cannot serve both God and money” (vs. 13). The audience, having a love affair with money, scoffed at his teaching (vs. 14). So he told those cheating managers using God’s property for their own benefit what their final payoff would be: an eternity in hell (vs. 19-23). This teaching rocked my life. As a young adult I continued my childhood pattern of tithing. God got his ten percent first. Always. It was like paying taxes. But when it became clear to me that I was not the owner at all, just a manager of another’s property, I stood convicted as an embezzler. I was avidly getting, saving and spending 90% of God’s property on myself without a qualm. I shrank from managership, fearing to lose the good life. Finally, I concluded that the cost of disobedience was too high and yielded to God’s will. Suddenly it was as if my cage door swung open, setting me free! If the corporation is his property, it’s his responsibility. And so am I! I no longer needed to worry about finances, that was his concern. My responsibility is simply to be an honest manager. The manager looks at the King’s business differently from the tither. Tithers look at their paycheck, calculate the 10% and ask, “Where should I invest this?” The manager looks at the needs of the business and asks, “How can I rearrange my resources to meet this great need?”
“The angels from their realm on high
look down on us with wondering eye.
That where we are but passing’ guests,
We build such strong and solid nests;
And where we hope to live for aye,
We scarce take thought one stone to lay.”
Jesus says, “That’s dumb, really dumb. You should use whatever I have put under your control now to build your eternal estate. Don’t squander my possessions building your own petty kingdom here on earth. At least be an honest manager.”