A Timeless Lesson
The text this week is Luke 16:1-13. This is the story of the dishonest manager and one of my most treasured passages in Scripture. This is primarily a story of repentance, perhaps the story of repentance.
In this story it is made clear that the manager was dishonest or at least incompetent. It is not clear whether the master was also corrupt. The manager, realizing that he is about to be fired begins to act mercifully and more justly toward those with whom he has been conducting business. He writes down their debt and relieves them of their burden. He is then commended by the master for acting shrewdly. He is specifically noted for “making friends for yourself by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.”
The lesson is clear. We are to take all that we are and everything that we have done and turn it toward those things that are eternal and everlasting. We are to focus our relationship on an eternal God and how we treat His children, our fellow brothers and sisters. It is a hopeful lesson, in that, no matter what we have done we can turn it into something good that provides eternal blessings to us and others. Therefore the manager was commended. He took all that he had done wrong and turned it into something good for those whom he had wronged. Additionally, it should be highlighted that he would not have been able to affect such a good outcome had he not been so dishonest in the first place. He was able to help because he had been such a dirtball. This is obviously not the only place in Scripture this point comes up, as the life story of Saul/Paul attests.
The Real-Life Application
The best real world example of this that I can think of is the case of Oskar Schindler, immortalized in the magnificent movie, Schindler’s List. It is obvious the good that Schindler did in protecting as many Jews as he could and the risks and sacrifices, he made in doing so. However, think about why he was able to help so many; it is clearly because he was previously such a scumbag. He was a stealer of a previously Jewish owned business, he used conscripted, slave labor and was a war profiteer. He made enough to last a lifetime off the forced labor of a subjugated population. Yet, before his soul was hurtled too far down the abyss to recover it, he was able to grasp redemption. As a character in the movie said, the “list was life”. He was only able to do this because he had placed himself in the position of a war profiteer in the first place. In 1962 he was named by the Yad Vashem Jewish Holocaust memorial as “Righteous Among the Nations” for the work he did in saving as many as he could. Talk about making friends with dishonest wealth!
Every Saint Has a Past
Now few will ever have such a dramatic story such as this. I would, though, venture to guess that many of us have something similar, albeit on a much smaller scale. I know I do. I am not going to go into detail about my time in the financial services world but let’s just say it was not pretty.
Now the unrighteous wealth I acquired was primarily knowledge (I quit this racket in 2015 and have tried (too feebly, I am afraid) to turn that unrighteous wealth (knowledge) into something good by telling as many as will listen that the game is rigged. That is one of the main purposes of my writing.
My prayer for all of you is that whatever “dishonest wealth” you may have acquired (and I doubt it to be as filthy as the knowledge I gained) you use it to create something positive and good for your world. You don’t have to be an Oskar Schindler or even a financial services shill to do this. Always keep in mind that no matter what your past story, your life is redeemable, and God wishes very much for it to be so. In fact, He has gone out of His way to call the most morally problematic people to His service. He joyfully offers us His Kingdom and rejoices in penitent hearts. When all else fails, remember that “every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past”.
Praise Be to God