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Jesus tells a little story for his disciples. He'd be the best dad ever—so many stories!
There's this super wealthy guy who's hired someone to manage his finances. We might call him a stockbroker.
Accusations surface against the stockbroker. He's been mismanaging the guy's portfolio. Not cool.
The wealthy guy fires his stockbroker and asks for one final account of his records.
The broker realizes he's in trouble. What's he going to do now? His hands are too soft for manual labor, and his pride is too big for welfare.
But this broker's a clever fellow, and he has a plan. He calls up each of his current employers' debtors one by one.
He asks the first how much he currently owes. The debtor responds, "A hundred jugs of olive oil" (16:6). The broker informs him that he's deleting this from his records and entering instead that he owes fifty.
He asks the second how much he currently owes. The debtor responds, "A hundred containers of wheat" (16:7). The broker promises to delete this and enter eighty in its place.
What does the wealthy employer do when he discovers his broker's fraud?
Surprise! The employer gives the broker props for acting so shrewdly.
Jesus concludes that the CEOs and CFOs of Fortune 500 companies are much shrewder than his own followers.
Jesus adds that his followers should strive to be more like them: "make friends for yourself by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes" (16:9).
Hmmm, how can Jesus possibly use an example of fraud as a positive example for discipleship? Take some time to chew on that.
Jesus adds that a person who's trustworthy in small matters is also trustworthy in big matters. The opposite is also true. Like the broker in the previous story, the person who's unjust in small matters will be unjust in big matters.
Jesus applies this principle. If you don't handle your earthly wealth in a way that's trustworthy, then who's going to trust you with true wealth? And if you're not a trustworthy manager of someone else's stuff, who's going to trust you with your own?
As far as money's concerned, you can't spend all your energy trying to earn it and expect to have anything left for other pursuits.
You have to make a choice about your supreme values. Money or God? You can't have it both ways.
The Pharisees overhear all of this talk of money; they're greedy jerks and are ridiculing Jesus. But Jesus tells them off. They're always trying to come off as really moral before everyone, when in reality they're only in it for the profit.
But God knows this. Besides, what humans think is impressive, God thinks is a bunch of baloney.