The people of this world are more shrewd... than are the people of the light. Luke 16:8 (NIV)
At first glance the parable commonly known as the parable of the unjust steward is an unusual one. Why does Jesus apparently commend the shrewd manager who by dishonest means saved himself from disaster? Which of the man's characteristics is Jesus encouraging us to emulate? Jesus commended him to us not because of his dishonesty but because he was shrewd in his use of material possessions.
Improvidence commonly takes one of two forms: firstly, spending all that we have here and now on things of no permanent value -- the principle of 'eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die', and secondly, squandering our money without ensuring a reasonable and worthwhile return -- the failure to use it to 'store up treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal'.
For most of us starting house jobs represents a sudden increase in our income, so that we now have more than we require for our immediate physical needs. It is easy to let money slip through our fingers, either to gratify ourselves or with a thoughtless generosity to others that achieves nothing.
Jesus is asking us to think very carefully about the way we spend this new-found wealth. Habits formed now tend to last a lifetime. Now is the time to face with God whether money and material possessions are ours or his, and if his, to consider how he would have us use them. Some of us have responsibilities to family or dependents. Some need to save for known future commitments. Our personal needs and circumstances vary, but they are all known to God. We must consider how much we should, or rather can, give directly to the Lord's work and in what ways this can be most effectively dispenses, remembering that all our material possessions come as a gift from him, and that, as a profession, we are more liberally endowed than many.
But why stop at money and possessions? Do we not owe him all that we are as well as all that we have? Time spent in thinking what really are his gifts to us and how best to use them could not be better spent.
Lord, thank you for all you have given me.
Deliver me from the sin of thinking of money,
possessions or talents as being my own.
Give me the grace to give back to you
all that I have and all that I am.
Further reading: Lk 16:1-9. Dt 8:11-19.