Vicar Matt Doebler
Matins Devotion: May 16, 2023
In our reading this morning from Luke, Jesus is teaching his disciples how they are to be faithful stewards of earthly riches in anticipation of the true riches that they stand to inherit.
Jesus does this through a very strange and unexpected parable. So we have this rich man who overhears that his money manager is squandering the rich man’s possessions and hurting his bottom line. However, the rich man is not very smart. Everyone in the business world knows that you hire slow and fire fast. But when the rich man tells his manager that he’s getting the axe, he doesn’t immediately confiscate his keys and have security escort him out of the building. Instead, he unwisely gives the manager time to plan a clever exit strategy—which essentially boils down to ingratiating himself to all the individuals who owe money to this rich man by surreptitiously lowering their debts. When at last the plot is discovered, it’s so clever that even the rich man who was defrauded by his dishonest manager commends him for his shrewdness.
Now obviously Jesus isn’t endorsing the manager’s blatant acts of dishonesty and theft. But what he is saying is that even the darkened wisdom of this world can recognize that using what was never yours to begin with in order to enrich your own future is always a good strategy. The manager wasn’t putting his own money at risk—every cent that he handled belonged to his rich, soon to be former, employer. The manager had nothing to lose and had everything to gain.
In all this, Jesus is pointing us to a lesser truth about how the kingdom of this world works in order to illustrate a greater truth about the Kingdom of God. You see, for all the manager’s faults, he was never delusional about who the money ultimately belonged to. He never imagined that his employer’s wealth was his to keep forever. Likewise, we sons of light are to understand that none of the unrighteous wealth of this world truly belongs to us. Everything we have been given charge over—from our net worth to our networks—is someday going to fail spectacularly. The crash will come. We will lose it all because it was never ours to keep. Therefore, if you know you’re going to lose it anyway, use it in service of the one thing that you can’t lose. Use it to build the Kingdom of God. Use the time, talent, and treasure that God has given you stewardship over to sow the seeds of God’s Word in the lives of your neighbors. Use it to win friends who will welcome you into the eternal dwellings when one day your keys are confiscated, and the angels usher you out of your earthly building and off of this mortal coil. Use what was never yours to keep to invest in the inheritance that you will never lose.