His master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly.
In the parable of the shrewd manager, Jesus illustrated the truth that a wise person uses present opportunities to prepare for eternity. Luke 16:1 says, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions.” We do not know exactly what this financial manager had done to squander the master’s money, but he was not acting in a faithful way. So the master told him, “Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager” (v. 2). The master was saying, “You are fired, but I am going to give you a few days to wrap everything up so you can report to me what has happened to the money.”
The manager suddenly found himself about to join the ranks of the unemployed, and he began to panic. But then he embarked upon a shrewd plan. Look at verses 4-7: “‘I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’”
The manager called in everybody who owed his master money and said, “It is your lucky day! We are having a sale.” Why would he do that? He knew he needed to make friends who would support him when he no longer had a paycheck coming in. He used the final days of his job to prepare for the future. Was it dishonest? Probably. But he was thinking about the future.
Well, word came to the master about what his employee was doing, and his reaction is startling. Verse 8 says, “His master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly.” Did this guy enjoy being cheated out of his money? Of course not. But he was saying, “If you had shown this much initiative while you were still my employee, you would still have a job today. Congratulations for finally being smart.”
Was Jesus praising dishonesty here? No, that is not the theme of the parable. The master praised the manager because he acted shrewdly. The word translated “shrewd” here is a Greek work that means “to act with foresight.” The manager was wise because he used his present opportunity to prepare himself for the future. That is the point of this parable.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How To Survive A Layoff” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org