“Can’t Buy Me Love”

On Sept. 22, Pastor Katy preaches on Luke 16:1-9, 13.

1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

We know the song, we’ve seen the movie, and yet the entanglement of wealth and relationships continues like a giant knotted ball of yarn after an overzealous kitten has had its way with it. The “Parable of the Dishonest Manager” in Luke 16 is possibly the most confusing and ambiguous of all parables, but it concludes with a simple reality: “You cannot serve God and wealth.” At first glance, the parable seems to be praising the dishonest manager for being dishonest and for using people. It seems like Jesus is offering care and concern for someone who has actively exploited people. It leaves us with questions about who Jesus is talking to and what this parable says for us today. It simply doesn’t fit with the Jesus we think we know. Scholars have pulled about every string in this messy and convoluted yarn-ball of a parable, and there is no shortage of interpretation, but this Sunday we pull on one string in particular and begin with what we know to be true.