(For the first part of this story, see “The Manager and a Business Opportunity.”)
So he calls in the farmers.
“How much oil do you owe?” he asks the olive man.
“You know. 1000 gallons.”
“Write a new contract for 500,” the manager says.
He does the same for the wheat farmer. And all the rest.
He doesn’t touch what is owed the owner. He’s giving up what he was stealing. But he looks like he’s done people a great favor.
“Pretty smart,” the owner says, as he meets one last time with the manager. Because the manager is still being fired. He’s still been dishonest.
But the owner saw that the manager, as warped as he was, knew that relationships are more important than money. You can spend relationship to grow money, or you can spend money to grow relationship. Even cheats understand that money’s not worth keeping if it costs you your life
When he tells this story, Jesus isn’t in favor of the cheating. But he is in favor of putting relationship first and money last.
Money IS helpful.
But when Jesus talks about it, he’s talking about something that is a tool, not a measure of value.
God notices the poor. Jesus himself became poor. Financially poor at least. Because from God’s perspective, being broke isn’t the worst thing, and being financially successful isn’t the best.
After his story, Jesus says that managing little things like money is a measure of how we will manage important things.
So what would it look like to be shrewd? To be faithful with little things? To “throw away” money and time to grow relationship?
If that manager understands, how much more we can understand.
And do something.
Adapted from my meditation at the Sunday chapel at Parkview Regional Medical Center, September 18.