Lectionary Reflection: Luke 16:1-13: One Clever Servant.
Posted by M G Kizzia on September 16, 2010
Let’s approach these thoughts in reverse order.
1. You cannot serve two masters.
This should be obvious to everyone, but it isn’t. You see, back in Jesus’ day people did not divide life into neat compartmentalized segments like us. Monday through Friday we devote to work, school and family in the evenings. Saturday, some relax, but some are just as busy as a weekday. God gets Sunday (morning anyway – football this time of year in the afternoons), and maybe an evening like a Wednesday supper or Christmas Eve… And that is all God gets and we think we are perfectly good Christians – as faithful as the next guy. Isn’t that so?
2. Faithful in little, faithful in much. Unfaithful in little, unfaithful in much.
Again, you would think this is obvious to everyone, but it isn’t. Let me ask, what are you doing with what you have been given? Is it advancing the gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those who are sick or in prison? No, it is set aside for a rainy day, for retirement and our children’s education, for the house—the big house if we can get it, for that new car and the vacation. How about that trip to Disney World?
We compartmentalize money pretty well. But is the pittance we give to God faithful? God gave us the skill, talent, ability, mind, heart and life as well as every success we have ever had. It is called grace. What do we give him? Little. That’s the truth of it, and we all know it because we are all the same. You see, for us it is faithful in little and unfaithful in much.
3. Jesus praised the clever servant. Why?
Because that servant was also like us. He was clever in the ways of this world. He offered those debtors fifty cents on the dollar to ingratiate himself with them so when he lost his job he could easily get another.
We also pride ourselves on being clever in the ways of this world. We study hard to achieve success. We schmooze with just the right people. We Network as they say, to get what we want and need. And we strive, maybe stress for success Monday through Friday (if not Saturday). And we all do it. There is no denying it. Everyone would like that high paying job, the status, power, prestige, money. I don’t think we can help it.
But, listen. Jesus did not just compliment the clever servant, he complained about us. Why are we not clever in Godly things the way this servant (and us) are clever in worldly things?
The truth is, too many of us come to church and turn off the mind (sometimes especially church leaders). I can hear the falsetto now…”Oh, God is almighty. God will do it. God will lead us and take care of us. We don’t have to worry. So what if the church is dying, if our children are abandoning the faith. God lives in La-la land.” The falsetto stops. “I have to remember to call Dick Monday morning about that contract. I better write that down.” Then it starts again. “Are we singing a hymn now? Oh good. I mouth the words really good. Some day, I might even read the words. La-la.”
It honestly isn’t funny. As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and “they” is “us.”
We have forgotten that the best, most successful principles in this world are in fact Biblical principles. Let me share a few: Set goals, exercise discipline, evaluate, focus on results, Look to advancement, mentor (supervise), help others (customers, clients), establish good relationships with co-workers, don’t argue with the boss, be positive, sell…
But wait, wait! These are things I learned in business school. Indeed, and the question Jesus asked is why are these things forgotten when it comes to God’s business?
You see, we can be wise in the ways of the world and pursue money and material things and set ourselves up for the kind of eternal life the world can expect. For the most part, we are all doing this. But trust me, that is the short end of the stick. On the other hand, we can be wise in the ways of God and use the wealth we get to both tell and do the Gospel. That is the way, you know. And it is obviously true after all: you cannot serve two masters.
NOTE: For anyone thinking of stewardship. People ask me from time to time how much they should give. Is the tithe (10%) before or after taxes, or is it the thought that counts, or what? Some have wisely stopped asking me because I always give the same answer: You need to turn your thinking upside-down. The question is not how much does God want you to give but how much is God willing to let you keep?