Day 23

Kingdom Values

from the Luke reading plan

Luke 16:1-31, Proverbs 15:16, 1 Corinthians 4:7-13

BY Guest Writer

We tend to pluck out Christ’s teachings and deliver them as neat and tidy Sunday school lessons. Every word is true and useful (Proverbs 30:5; 2 Timothy 3:16), and yet, when we place ourselves in the sandals of the original hearers and listen as they would have listened, we discover a depth we might otherwise miss.

Let’s use Luke 16 as our case study for this principle. Luke 15 sets the scene. A crowd of tax collectors and sinners had gathered around Jesus, annoyed that “this man receives sinners and eats with them” (v.2). The nerve! Jesus addressed their unrighteous indignation with a string of vivid lessons. If we were watching this text unfold as a theatre performance, our program might read something like this:

Scene 1: A sheep, a coin, and a son—three stories about the lost.

The curtains would then fall and rise again to…

Scene 2: A swindler, a beggar, and a rich man—two stories about true riches.

Christ’s words, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” (Luke 16:10, ESV), are scribbled into the bottom of my laundry baskets as a reminder that if Jesus can’t trust me to do laundry well and with joy, He surely can’t trust me with something more significant. Laundry aside, this is the point Jesus makes in the parable of the dishonest manager. Though at first glance it might seem Jesus holds up the manager’s swindling as model behavior, it’s not the dishonesty Jesus wants us to emulate; it’s that he views money as a means to an end. So should followers of Jesus; the accumulation of wealth should never be our goal, but if we can use earthly wealth for eternal good, we will prove ourselves faithful. “So if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine?” (v.11, CSB).

Fast forward a few verses. Jesus is still responding to the hard-hearted Pharisees (vv.14–15) when He tells the tale of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus dies and is in glory; the rich man dies and is in torment. After the rich man pleads for Lazarus to go to his relatives and call them to repent, the lesson ends with these words: “If they don’t hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (v.31). God’s Word has been beating the same drum since the beginning: wealth might make things easier in this life, but it’s not what matters for the next. End scene.

Jesus was talking to people who valued wealth and saw it as a sign of God’s favor, but He reminds them that the kingdom doesn’t have quite the same economy. The faith of a child—not money or possessions—is all that’s needed. Money is alluring, but it is a master who ultimately disappoints. God looks at our hearts, not our bank account statements. “And he told them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight’” (v.15).

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (45)

45 thoughts on "Kingdom Values"

  1. Alexis says:

    Guys, I so do not understand the parable of the shrewd manager. Can anyone explain what’s going on ?

    1. Natalia Phillips says:

      The parable of the shrewd manager is somewhat confusing, but let’s break it down.

      After many years working with the same company it is discovered that an employee is being dishonest on the job, squandering the company’s possessions/resources, of which the manager uncovers then terminates him. At that point, the employee understands that his reputation is ruin, and given his skill set he would have to take a step back in his career or become a beggar on the street. In order to ensure that he did not have to do either, the employee began to call people that owed his manager, and give them breaks/discounts on what was owed, in an effort to repair his reputation by showing grace and mercy on others, so that they would in turn show him generosity when the time called for it. His manager praised him not because of dishonesty, but the fact that he finally began to use good judgment and discernment, acting in the way that was expected when he was employed.

      In Luke 16:9, Jesus is instructing us to use our material blessings, “unrighteousness wealth,” to win souls for His kingdom. Through the act of caring for and giving freely to others, we are demonstrating what true discipleship is and how God’s love, mercy and compassion has transformed our lives, despite our shortcomings and that it can transform them also. At the end of the day, “when it all fails,” God doesn’t care about how successful we are or the wealth we accumulate on earth, but that our hearts are pure and we took what He blessed us with, sowing back into His people, mindful that we would receive the blessing of eternal life.

      If we are unable to use the earthly blessings He has sent to us to bless others, storing and harboring them for ourselves, we simply cannot be trusted with more, let alone eternal life. Also, if we cannot manage another’s earthly blessing (for example, doing the jobs we are paid to do) how can we be trusted in positions of power, or with our own businesses?

      We have to be mindful of where we place material things in relation to God, or we run the risk of turning those material things into our God.

  2. Afua Tobigah says:

    These scriptures tell me every role matters . Everything should be use for His glory no matter how small or big it is . As I cook and take care of the family or go to work , I’m being called to be faithful in it . As I expect God to use me for “bigger “ things he expect me to be faithful in the smaller things . There is nothing I have , no attribute, no certificate , no beauty, no eloquence, no relationship , no skill … that I have that wasn’t given to me my God. I really have to see God in the seemingly mundane things . I think this is a journey I God had been taken me through for the past 18 months . .
    It is important I take this seriously because like the manager , like the rich man … a day of accountability would come .
    The Holy Spirit would be guide and there are people on earth that would teach me the word.

  3. Mari V says:

    Yep, sometimes I do worry (which is sin). about what’s in my bank account. And then I remember God’s word. He’s got this. He’s taking care of me and my kids. I love how Erin ended her devotion this morning. “God looks at the hearts, not our bank account statements”. I pray that I will always have a heart after God. I am sinful and I miss that many times. BUT I’m grateful that I have a God who loves me unconditionally.

  4. Maura says:

    When I ponder this message from what the Lord has been working with me on, trust, it helps me understand it better. Do I trust my provider or will I become obsessed with my provisions. Which has been a battle for me at times in my life. The thinking that abundant wealth might allow me to solve not only my problems but those of others. Instead of looking toward my abundant God I can either use what He has given to bless others in my little and trust him to multiply the blessings and glorify Him, or I can focus on how it can benefit me. This passage is confusing in that it seems the manager is being praised for being shrewd and using his position for his own gain, but when we realize we have to make decisions daily to be faithful, there is a realization that being faithful with our little or much shows the depths of our heart and reveals our transformation of what we are allowing God to be King Odin our own lives. He is worthy of all we have be it two coins or millions. Thank you Lord for your provisions whelp me to be a blessing with all you have given.

  5. Sarah D. says:

    You cannot serve both God and money. Been thinking a lot about this, as I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my life (as a career)…I hear the voice of reality that I need a job that pays well that I can live off of, but I also hear the voice that says do something that you are passionate about and trust God with the money aspect. I’m considering transferring to a different college to study marine biology, so would appreciate any prayers you all could give. It’s a big decision and I’ve been struggling with it this past month, but trying to get as much information on it before I make a decision. So far in college I haven’t really known what I specifically can do with my major, and now that I’m looking into it, the major I’m in now just doesn’t sound appealing to me anymore. Praying that I will make a wise decision and trust in God’s timing and guidance.

  6. Jennifer Martin says:

    This message convicted me today. I haven’t been so careful with how I spend my money in the past couple years. Lord, help me learn how to better steward my money so that I can glorify You. Amen

    1. Geneva Brown says:

      I’m right there with you Jennifer praying for us both.

  7. Linda M. says:

    Beautifully said. Thank you.

  8. Rachel says:

    I am finding this explaination of the text very confusing…For clarification… it wasn’t the tax collectors and sinner that were complaining but the Pharisees(15:1-2).

    And the dishonest manager, what is up with verse 8?? “The master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly.” WUT? Verse 9 is just as confusing to me. I need to do some more digging but I’ll take anyone’s ideas/feedback! Thanks and have a blessed day…

    1. Sue Barrow says:

      Hi Rachel There are some helpful explanations further up the tgread.

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