Today’s readings.. (Numbers 5), (Proverbs 2), (Luke 16)
Honesty seems to be an increasingly rare commodity in the 21st Century. Cheating the Govt at least a little is a common practice. The shop assistant is astonished, but pleased, when one hands back money when you have been given too much change after making a purchase!
We read today a parable Jesus told about a manager who worked for a rich man and who was doing his job poorly and “wasting his possessions” [Luke 16 v.1]. This man had his mind fully set on this life and when he learnt he was going to lose his job he began “summoning his master’s debtors one by one” [v.5]. He comes to an arrangement with them to reduce the records about how much they owe his Master: this will obligate them to give him some support when he loses his job.
The rich man commends “the dishonest manager for his shrewdness” saying, “for the sons of this world are more shrewd in their dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” [v.8]. It appears to be a cynical observation and is followed by a strange statement, “And I tell you make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into eternal dwellings.” [v.8,9]
The point Jesus is making is that the “eternal dwellings” of the unrighteous are their tombs – and some elaborate tombs have been found by archaeologists, including the tomb of the High Priest’s family – a miniature replica of the Temple. This is the only future they will have because they have made money (and the things it can buy) their main objective in life. Note Jesus’ words, “One who is dishonest in very little is also dishonest in much. If you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” [v.11]
Our Lord’s final point is “You cannot serve God and money.” [v.13] We then read; “the Pharisees, who were lovers of money heard all these things and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.” [v.14,15] They were blind to the reality of the all-seeing eyes of God. We must not be blind in this way, or in any spiritual sense, being honest and true in our thinking in much more than money.