Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stop trying to justify yourself

The parable of the dishonest manager (Luke 16) is arguably one of Jesus most difficult parables to understand, interpret, and apply. There are important lessons for us about the use of money. But there is also a message about salvation and justification. This parable follows the parable of the prodigal son, which also involves wealth, inheritance, stewardship, and judgement. The parable of the Prodigal Son ends with the father saying to the second son:

Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"

the next verse is

1He [Jesus] also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.

So perhaps the two parables should be read together.
After Jesus tells the parable of the dishonest manager,

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15And he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 "The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

What is money? It is a currency we earn or inherit and gives us influence and status in the world. It can be easily tied to our identity and our very raison d'etre. But it cannot save us. Furthermore, we cannot earn or inherit our salvation.

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