Luke 16

There are several powerful discussion in Luke 16!   Is Jesus saying it’s okay to cheat?  Can a person once divorced never marry again?
Let’s begin at the beginning (there’s a novel idea).  There are three people in the story: The wealthy man, his manager and the person who owed the wealthy man money.   The manager is the go-between for the rich man and his debtor, it’s his job to honestly handle the finances, and therein lies the problem.  The manager is either corrupt, incapable or both.  Because of this, the wealthy boss has decided to let him go.  Who could blame him?  If we were in the boss’s position, we would likely do the same thing.  No one wants to be cheated.
We know the rest of the story…what does it mean?   Well, I think we can safely assume that the wealthy man is God, and you and I are his managers.  Are we corrupt?  Yes, it would appear so.  The Bible informs us that we were corrupt from birth, and ineligible to enter heaven because of it. (I think there is an allowance made for babies, but we won’t discuss that here).  Now we have a problem.  We need to enter into  heaven but we can’t earn our way in.  Just like the manager couldn’t provide for his own livelihood after being fired, we cannot provide for our eternal destiny after death.   We need to make some arrangements on this side of heaven if we want to get in.   Here’s where most people get lost in the story: Jesus isn’t commending the dishonest manager for being corrupt, he’s commending the mindset that says “I need to prepare for a future that I know is coming”.  In the managers case, he uses what he has control of to provide for his own future.   Yes, it’s dishonest…but that’s not the point.  The point is that you and I have control of some things as well, property, finances, time and abilities…these were all given to us by God and meant to be used for His glory.  But before we accepted Christ we squandered them.   Now that we have realized the error of our ways, we should use whatever gifts and resources we have to increase favor with God and our standing in heaven.
You may ask “Isn’t salvation a free gift?  Are you trying to say we earn it?”   Yes, it’s free and no, you can’t earn it.  What I’m saying is that after we take the job as managers of God’s estate, we need to behave accordingly.   The manager was employed by the wealthy man….you and I as Christians are adopted into God’s family and responsible for our actions and behavior as they reflect on the body of Christ.   We are stewards of the blessings of God, and we need to use them wisely.
The Lord tells us that if we help others who are in need, even to the level of giving a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty, we will be rewarded.   In another place we are told that on judgment day God reflects on whether or not we clothed the naked, fed the poor and visited the imprisoned.  He tells us that when we did these things “we did it to Him”, as if He were present to receive the gift.   We are told to “store up treasures in heaven” as well.   In another place we hear of the man who is traveling to court and is encouraged to work out a deal before he arrives at the courthouse, to avoid being thrown into jail.    That’s what the shrewd manager was doing, trying to work out a deal for his future.  
You  and I can do no less.   Each one of us is on our way toward our eternal destiny, and unless we shed the guilt of our sin before we arrive at death, we will die in our sins and be held responsible for them.   The only way to erase sins is to ask for forgiveness from Christ.  If we are sincere, then He will forgive us.  That’s the beginning of the journey, not the end.   He will immediately begin guiding and directing us in how we should use our gifts, talents and abilities.   How we respond could very well define whether we are honest or corrupt managers.   Choose wisely.
Worldly wealth is best invested in kingdom causes, where it brings eternal rewards.
Verse 17 is dropped in here almost like a teaser line, reminding us that the Law hasn’t lost its force.  God’s Law (the Old Testament Law) cannot be overturned.   Much of it has been fulfilled and replaced, as it pertains to sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins; the rest of it remains intact.
for that reason we cannot carelessly divorce our wives.   I don’t think God means the divorced person can never remarry, based on what we read in other parts of the Bible.  For instance, this appears to say that “anyone” who divorces commits adultery, but in another place Jesus agreed that on occasion divorce is permitted.  I’m not looking for a loophole or an exception, simply to understand better what God meant.    In the days of Jesus women were treated as cattle or possessions and were often divorced for ridiculous reasons, leaving them without an income and homeless.   A divorced woman wasn’t a sought after commodity in Jesus’ day…divorcing her might have forced her to prostitution or slavery in order to survive.    In our day divorce is just as destructive and heinous, even though the state of women’s rights has changed significantly.   In some rare cases you could say “the shoe is on the other foot”, where the wife earns an income and divorces her husband who can’t earn adequately.   Divorce, like any other shortcoming, falls short of God’s original plan for us and requires forgiveness.   And God does forgive. Even if we were the one who caused the divorce to happen, God will forgive if we truly repent.   Reconciliation is advised, but it isn’t always possible.  Sometimes we have to simply acknowledge that our sins have created lost opportunities, and instead of living with guilt, shame and regret…we recognize that God has forgiven and forgotten the sins.   We are new creations, and embracing that freedom we set out to enjoy our new life in Christ.
I am hoping that the Rich Man And Lazarus appears in the next reading as well so I can discuss Purgatory.   If it doesn’t, I will come back later and add it here.
Be blessed as you invest inJesus,