In Luke 16, we are told about a person who managed funds for a rich man. In the process of managing the funds, he squandered the money entrusted to him. The rich man found out about it and made his manager account for the funds. The manager knew he was wrong and was going to lose his job. He knew that being older if he lost the job, he would not be able to do the kind of work he did when he was younger. He also knew that, at his age, jobs will be harder to find. Many of us know and understand what that is all about.
Therefore, he decided to make sure he was going to have a nest egg to live on. He called in his employer's debtors and made deals with them. We are told what happened in two of the deals. The manager called in one debtor who owed his employer 100 jugs of olive oil. He told the debtor to change his bill to reflect that he only owed 50. The manager told another debtor who owed his employer 100 containers of wheat to change the bill reflecting that he only owed him for 80. We know that at least two of the debtors were willing to accept his terms. The manager knew which debtors were dishonest and would accept the terms he offered. After all, if he asked the wrong person, word would get back to his employer, who could make things even worse than what the manager already was facing.
We don't know what the exact terms were; we do know that the manager and the debtors made out on the deal. Jesus praised the manager for his shrewdness.
Jesus did not praise the manager for doing the right thing. Jesus praised him because he came up with a dishonest plan and got away with it. I can assure you that he will pay for his crime in this life or in the next.
When a person goes to hell, there is no pardon, no parole for good behavior and no loop holes. This man will pay the price for what he did and so will his dishonest friends.
Some people have this weird idea that it is OK to do anything we want. The only time it is not OK is when they get caught. It is not a question of whether we get caught or not; it is a question as to what is right and wrong.
Jesus pointed out that when one is dishonest and makes deals with dishonest people, sooner or later there will be a time of reckoning. Unless they repent, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Many people look at such a situation as being good business. After all, the manager put in his time and was owed more then what he was going to get. So he had a right to it. It is only fair!
How many times do we hear of people, who I believe had good intentions, arrested for embezzling funds from the public or voluntary organizations. I don't think that most of them took the job they did because they wanted to steal or rob their employer. Sometimes temptation gets the better of us. Just remember that Jesus, if not someone else, always knows what we have done.
- Behrens is the administrative pastor of Picture Rocks United Methodist Charge and Protestant chaplain at Muncy State Correctional Institution.