17th Sunday after Trinity 22.9.13 Luke 16.1-13

20 09 2013

Shrewd Business

If only we could hear this story with fresh ears!  I wonder how deeply scandalized we’d be?

Luke 16.1-13

Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.” 3Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” 6He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” 7Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.” 8And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 ‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’


To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. ‘Manager’ or ‘steward’ – does either word work adequately?  What might be a better one?
  2. What does the word ‘unrighteous’ mean?
  3. When is unrighteousness praiseworthy?

Heart Questions

  1. How does it feel to be caught out when you have squandered things?
  2. What mental image do you get of a man too weak to dig and too ashamed to beg?
  3. How do you feel, deep down, about the manager’s unauthorized debt forgiveness?

Hand Questions

  1. Have you been squandering?  What will you do if found out?
  2. Do you need to hold someone more closely to account than you have been of late?
  3. How could you make some friends with dishonest wealth?


These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.



2 responses

21 04 2014

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29 09 2013
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