Today we hear another shocking teaching from Jesus.
It appears that Jesus is praising an act of dishonesty.
The manager who acts shrewdly is the hero of the story.
I can remember hearing this story as a child and thinking what a weird parable.
Even now I have to really think about this parable and what Jesus is trying to teach us.
Clearly there is an important lesson here if we just dig a little deeper.
What is Jesus trying to say to us in the parable of the rich man and the manager.
As with most of Jesus parables you can look at them through many different angles.
Today I would like for us to think about the quick and smart behavior of the manager.
He showed composure – he did not act compulsively – he made a plan and then he executed it.
Now I don’t believe that in the end Jesus was praising his dishonest behavior but Jesus was trying to make a larger point here.
Jesus is praising the man’s resourcefulness, his wits about himself, his smart intuitive thinking.
That is what Jesus is lifting up.
Jesus wants us to be just as bold for his kingdom work.
He wants us to use all the gifts that we have to move his kingdom and his mission forward.
Can we be just as creative and smart and yes, shrewd as the dishonest manager but and, here is the twist here, can we be that for what is right – for what is just, and for what is honest.
Remember the scripture from the book of Micah – we are to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
Jesus is calling us to respond to him with the same kind of boldness that the manager had in the parable.
We are not to shy away from our faith but we are to lean more deeply into our faith with all the strength that God gives us.
It is a shocking parable but it is also a parable with a good message.
Each of us can find ways in our work, in our home life, within our families to really live from our hearts and not to just to complacently get by.
Life is too much of a gift to let it just slide by…
As I was working on this sermon this past week, I thought to myself if the shrewd manager were to write a book what kind of a book would it be??
And the first book that came to my mind was the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.
This is a book on how to live from that deeper and more creative part of ourselves.
The book also is a very worldly book and it takes an almost mechanical approach to living.
In other words, the book feels at times a little distant from the day to day lives of real people.
But if you look at the book and take his ideas and apply them with your faith then suddenly it gives your faith new meaning.
For example, one of his ideas in his book is to create a personal mission statement.
Our congregation has a mission statement – our shared mission statement is to praise God, to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ, to reach out with this message to people of all backgrounds and cultures, and to create a community of Christian support, love, and forgiveness.
Maybe you work at a place that has a mission statement but do you personally have a mission statement?
Do you have a mission statement that you think about everyday that impacts your choices and decisions that you make each and every day of your lives?
I have a personal mission statement that I have been living from for the past twelve years.
In January of 2010 I received some strong inspiration and I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down my personal mission statement which I have been living from ever since.
During good days and seasons I remember my personal mission statement during difficult days and seasons I remember my personal mission statement.
My mission statement gives meaning and purpose to my life and the statement give me direction in living out my faith and in being a better steward of the gifts that God has given me.
I am not going to share my mission statement because it is between God and me but I want to share with you now how impactful my personal mission statement has been for me over the years.
During some of the dark days and seasons of my life my personal mission statement has been a light for me – almost as if the Holy Spirit is reminding me to keep moving forward and trusting in Jesus.
How about you – what is your mission statement between God and you?