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. So 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.” Then 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. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?” 6 He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” Then 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.” And 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.'
(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
Many preachers find the parable of the dishonest manager (or steward) difficult to explain, but if we hold to the fact that this is about a generous God who forgives us, then we might come to some understanding of what the story actually means. Yesterday we looked at the Apostles Creed and the words "forgive us our sins" and now we turn to the Lord's Prayer, which followed that same line with "as we forgive those who sin against us".
The dishonest manager has been reported to the owner by someone who has accused him of wasting his master's property. Desperate to survive he thinks up a scheme to avoid destitution. By reducing what his master's debtors owe will, he thinks, make the landowner be seen as generous. Indeed he is also relying on his master's generosity himself - that the landowner will honour his proposal.
The underlying message to us, is that God is merciful and generous. We are like the dishonest manager in that we can find no excuses for our sinful behaviour. Our only option is to trust in the unfailing mercy of our generous God who will accept the loss - and who has paid the price through the death of His Son, Jesus - and to follow His example of forgiveness to all who hurt us.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You taught Your disciples
how much the Father loved them;
that He would search for them;
pay any price to restore them to Himself;
and generously forgive all
who ask for forgiveness.
May we learn to be as forgiving
of those who have hurt us,
and who ask for forgiveness.