The Parable of the Shrewd Servant – Luke 16:1-8

They there are three topics that people say you should never talk about. Religion. Well, the purpose of this website is to talk about religion and Biblical truths, so this is a good place for this topic.

Politics. At the time of this writing, the 2016 Presidential election days away. I encourage everyone to get out on November 8 and vote. Get involved in the political process . . . Important! . . . Ok . .

And the third is Money!

So today we’re going to talk a little about money. . . .Show Me The Money!


Parables Should Be Easy

I’m going to honest with you, this is a hard passage. There are many passages in Scripture that are hard because of their deep theology or attempt to explain God. But today we’re dealing with a parable, and it is a challenging one. One of the commentaries I read this week preparing for this post indicated that for the first four centuries, the early church made few references to this parable. It’s a challenge.

In order to help us understand this passage, we need some context. Without context, this passage is difficult to understand and the importance of the message is lost. So, let me give you some backstory or context to help frame our story today.

The Backstory

First, in Jesus’ day, people who were rich or wealthy would have plenty of servants working them. Many servants would be slaves of some kind. Some may have been bought at a local slave market, others may be indentured slaves due to outstanding debts. Some servants likely would be hired from the local community.

Much like our workforce today, these servants would start at lower level jobs, likely manual labor and then progress up the chain based on performance and other quality of work.

We have an example of this kind of service in Scripture. Remember the story of Joseph? He was sold into slavery by his brothers and when he made it to Egypt, he was sold to Potiphar.  While living in Potiphar’s house, we see Joseph move up the ranks, to eventually, he was the manager of everything in Potiphar’s house.

This was a normal practice in ancient civilization. Servants were given positions of authority in the home of the master based on how well they performed.

Now if they failed or were found to be doing something the master didn’t like, there were consequences. A servant could be demoted back to manual labor, they would be sent to work the fields. A servant could be put out, which would essentially put them on the street as homeless and no one would touch them or bring them into their home. There were many options a master had when it came to a poor performing servant.

Second, it was against the Law of Moses for a Jew to charge another Jew interest. The law was clear, but the people had built in loopholes. They argued that if you had a commodity of any kind, then you were not destitute and therefore could enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement.

So they would structure interest into the loan so as to be able to deny they were charging interest. If you needed a loan equal to 40 gallons of Olive Oil, then they would issue you a bond in the amount of 80 gallons of olive oil and only give you the 40 gallons. This way the bond simply shows the debt, but no interest. A loophole.


unjust shrewd manager luke 16

So with this context or background in mind, let’s look at the parable of Luke 16.

Luke 16:1-8 (NLT)

1 Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money.

I want to pause here for a moment. Last week we heard the parable of the Prodigal Son. And in that story we are told that the son took his money and went to a foreign and wasted it with riotous living.

The word used in chapter 15 to describe the way the Prodigal son wasted his money, is the same word used here, wasting his employer’s money.

The word, in the Greek, literally means to ‘separate.’ It was a word that was used to describe the way the wheat and the chaff would be separated. The wheat would be ground and then tossed into the air so the chaff could be blown away and the kernel of wheat would be collected.

It literally implies that he was throwing money away. . .making it rain. . . .frivolous. . . wasteful. . . money that does not belong to him.

2 So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’

3 “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. 4 Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’

5 “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ 6 The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’

7 “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’

8 “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. 9 Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

This manager realized it was time make a move. He was either going to fields to dig or he was getting kicked to the streets to beg, neither were ideal for him.

So he decided the best solution for him, was to get in good graces with some of the master’s debtors. He figured, if he could help them make a better deal and save money, they would be more likely to let him come to the house as a servant.

So he began to eliminate the debt by cutting the ‘interest’. He cut the oil bill in half and took 20% off of the grain debt. This would essentially make their bonds equal to the debt they took without any interest.

The Employer finds himself in a rather precarious position. He can’t renegotiate the interest, because it was illegal for him to have applied the fee in the first place. Now he has an manager who could be a whistle blower causing him even more grief. . . .So the employee grins . . .offers a nod . . . and realized the dishonest manager has made some shrewd deals.

The World Get’s It, What About You?

Jesus encourages his disciples with this parable. The world has figured out how to leverage money and influence to benefit themselves. The children of the world are shrewd. They understand the power of money. They understand the way it can be used and leveraged to benefit their world. The world is able to use money to better their own personal world.

Jesus challenges the disciples to learn how to leverage the worldly possession they have to benefit OTHERS. That’s right . . . Others. How can they use the limited financial recourses they to make a difference in the lives of others?

This is the challenge of the parable. How to be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove. How can we use our money to grow the kingdom?

How can we use our home to benefit others? How can we use our car to make others lives better? How can we use the possessions we have to see people come to know Jesus?

This is the reward and power of money and possessions. When our possessions go to some else and our money pays for our funeral, and we enter into glory for eternity, will we be welcomed by those friends who we influenced while on earth?

Are we using our money to benefit others or to make our lives more comfortable?

Psalm 139:7-12 – Commentary

In verses 1-6, the Psalmist expresses how wonderful it is to know the overwhelming relationship that God has with him. God knows us in such a deep and meaningful ways that the very thought is almost too much to bear. The God of the Universe, the Creator of all things cares to know us deeply and personally.

We Can’t Get Away

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9  If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10  even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12 even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

Psalm 139: 7 – 12 (ESV)

If verses 1-6 help describe the Omniscience of God, verses 7-12 describe the Omnipresence of God. Where can we go to get away from the presence of God?


David begins by asking several rhetorical questions. The first two play off of each other. Where can go or walk or travel that would allow me to be away from the Spirit of God? Or can you flee or run or escape from His very presence?

The assumed answer from the question is you can’t. You cannot get away from the presence of God. His Spirit is ever present. We cannot escape the omnipresence of the eternally present God.

I could go to heaven or to the grave, and God is there. I could go as far east or west, and God is there. No matter the direction, the duration, the finality, or the cause, nothing can separate us from the presence of God.

His Presence Brings Confidence

So if God is everywhere. If I cannot escape His presence.

Combining the loving knowledge of God about me with his inescapable presence, David recognizes that God is there to lead him, to guide him, to be his strong and mighty hand.

God’s presence brings a complete sense of comfort and assurance. There is no place, no thing, no reality that can keep the omniscient God from being omnipresent. He will lead and support as His presence is with us.

Take Away

God is With Me

The reality is that God is always with me. When times are good, He is with me. When times are “bad,” He is with me. When I sin, He is with me.

An omnipresent God is in all places at the same time and it is impossible for me to escape his presence. God is with me!

When I consider the ever loving God, who knows me so personally, is not turned aside by my sin and fault, I am overwhelmed by his presence. I cannot be separated from Him.

Reverence for God’s Word


“Reverence for God’s Word demands that we ask questions and pose problems and that we believe there are answers and solutions which will reward our labor with treasures new and old” – John Piper Brothers, We are Not Professionals

Psalm 139:3 – Commentary

You Search Out My Path

I verses 1 and 2, David helps us understand that God’s knowledge of us is intimate and personal. It instant and constant and eternal. God knows us completely.

3 You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

In verse 1, David says that God has searched him and knows him. The Psalmists uses a different work in verse 3 for search.

In verse 1, the term means to search, to scrutinize over something. It implies that God’s knowledge of us is as complete as if someone had examined us or scrutinized us thoroughly.

In verse 3, however, the term means to scatter or spread out. It is a term used to describe the separation of the wheat from the chaff. The wheat and chaff would be tossed and the wind would separate the chaff by scattering it out. It is as if the wheat is being searched for by the removal of the chaff.

It is as if David is saying that God knows my path and my lying down and my ways by searching them like wheat from the chaff. The wind passes over our life and exposes the truth of our life.

Could this be a masked illusion of the Holy Spirit involvement? Throughout Scripture, the Holy Spirit is referred to as wind, breath of  God, etc. Is He the one who is winnowing our life to reveal the truth of our life path?

We know see that God’s knowledge of us is complete. He knows us as one who investigates us and examines us (Psalm 139:1). He knows us as one who is intimate with our actions and behavior to the point of knowing our thoughts (Psalm 139:2). He now knows our daily habits and routines (Psalm 139:3).

David has communicated that the God of the universe is intimately interested in me and you. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows us completely.

Take Away

1. Complete, exhaustive knowledge

It is comforting to know that God knows me. Deeply, completely and exhaustively, he knows me. Not just as an acquaintance or distant friend, but one who knows the secret places and knows my habits, but strengths and weaknesses. He is the only one to have knowledge of me that only I know.

And. . . yet he still wants to have a relationship with me.

The reality of his knowledge is overwhelming!

2. My Path is Known

Three year, Five year, Ten year plans are good, but he knows the path we will take. I am reminded of my life verse, Proverbs 16:9.

The heart of man plans his way,

but the Lord establishes his steps.

He knows the path. He is interested in the steps along that path more than the “plan.” It is known, but the path is important. The path is the process, the method of being developed into the man He has called me to be.

He knows the path . . . I need to follow it!

Final Thoughts

The more I learn about how much God knows me, there are multiple feels that bubble to the surface of my heart. I feel embarrassed at what God knows of me. I feel nervous . . . as if you realize your parents just learned of your sin. I feel encouraged that HE KNOWS and loves me any way.

But above all others, I am overwhelmed that the God of the universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knows me and loves me. He desires for me to live with him and to fellowship with Him.

He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and ME!

Psalms 139 – A Commentary

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

139 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

Psalms 139 is a powerful passage in describing the infinite attributes of God. As we read the text, David relates to us the Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Omnipotence of all-mighty God.

1  O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

David is indicating that God knows all there is to know about him. God’s knowledge of David is intimate, personal and complete. We serve a God who knows us! He knows the good, bad and ugly. He knows the things we do in secret and the things we think in private.

David’s description of God searching him is an interesting phrase. For if God is all-knowing (omniscience), then God already knows all there is to know. The emphasis here is more for David’s understanding and relationship. It is to better understand that God not only is aware of David, but that he has spent the effort looking deeply into the life of David so as to search, scrutinize, uncover all that can be known.

In the ancient Hebrew culture, to know someone is more than a conceptual awareness or knowledge about a person, it required a personal, intimate knowledge.  The term is the same term found in Genesis 2 describing the relationship between Adam and Eve. It is used in the context of deeply personal and covenant relationships.

God knows us because he has searched us thoroughly and because he has an intimate knowledge of us through a covenant relationship.

2  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

Not only does God know David intimately and personally, he knows of David’s actions. David is expressing the reality that God’s knowledge extends beyond the scope of personal knowledge of my mind and self and into my actions and behavior. God is keenly aware of when I get up, when I go out, who I meet, where I go. God’s knowledge of David is very personal and complete.

God’s knowledge of David is such, that He is able to know David’s thoughts even when He is not “with” David. God knows us completely! The reality is that David does not have to close to God in distance for God to know his thoughts. God knows everything.

This complete knowledge that God possesses of David, or even me, is His omniscience. God knows everything. His knowledge is not just cognitive, but through experience, through intimate relationships, and it is completed, instant, comprehensive, and eternal. God’s omniscience is complete in its knowledge in every facet of how knowledge can be acquired. God knows All Things.

Take Away

David is clearly expressing a deep theological idea in a very personal way. His relationship with God was one that was intimate and deep. David is describing one of the characteristics of God that make Him God, omniscience.

I think there are a few things that are important for us to glean from these verses.

1. God knows ME

The reality is that God knows me the same as he knows David. God has searched me and He knows me. God has an intimate knowledge and understanding of me that is more complete than my own knowledge of myself.

The fact is that God knows me and still loves me. He desires a relationship with me.

2. God Knows My Thoughts

My prayers to Him do not have to verbal. He knows my thoughts before I say them. He hears them before they are spoken.

Paul describes this by saying that he even knows our groanings. When we pray and try to communicate with Him, He understands our prayers better than we are even able to communicate them.

3. God Knows My Secrets

I have successfully hidden my secrets from people I love. But God knows. My secrets are not secret to Him. He knows my thoughts from afar.

I’m reminded of the story Jesus told of the prodigal son. When the son was sitting in the pig pen thinking about going back to his father as a servant, the Father discerned his thoughts from afar. He knew the son was returning and was looking for him to crest the horizon.

God knows my secrets and he loves me anyway. He knows my inner thoughts and the ‘real’ me, but desires to have a relationship still.

Final Thoughts

God is omniscient and He his knowledge of me is both searched and known. I am known by the Eternal God. He has chosen to have a relationship with me and no matter how far from him I get, he is able to discern my thoughts.

He knows me.

He knows you.

Children Belong to Parents, Not the Community

Children are not the communities!  Children are given to parents and they are parents responsibility.  Be careful NOT to buy into this kind of Postmodern, Socialistic, Big Government propaganda.  It is NOT Biblical!

A Creative God Does It His Way

winecellarOne of the communicable attributes of God is creativity.  Our God is a creative God, and since we bear His image, we are creative beings.  It is an attribute of God that He has woven into our being.

Now we don’t have the ability to create like he does.  He creates from nothing, ex nihilo (Hebrews 11:3).  Last time I created something, I had to go to the store to buy some materials and then spend hours putting it together.

Looking at the way God creates reveals a lot about his character.  It also sheds light on the way he created the universe in which we live.  If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, then how He created as Jesus, would give us a glimpse into how He created before time.

Creating Wine from Water

When Jesus began His ministry, the first miracle he performed was the turning of the water into wine at the wedding in Canaan.

His mother was the host of the wedding.  A first century Jewish wedding was a community event.  As was the custom of the time, a wedding feast lasted seven days.  It was a significant community event.

The wedding at Canaan was going well until Mary heard that they had run out of wine.  She immediately goes to Jesus and he offers his help.  She instructs the servants to do whatever he tells them and she hurries off to manage the next wedding.

Jesus Creates

Jesus then instructs the servants to go and fill six stone jars with water.  Each jar would hold between 20 and 30 gallons of water.  When they returned, he tells them to serve the guest at the wedding.

When they do as instructed, the water becomes wine as it is drawn out of the jars and served to the guest.  The water that has been turned into wine is of the finest quality that the bridegroom questions the reason for keeping the good wind to the end of the festivities.

Wine Has A History

Good wine requires a slow process.  The grapes must be carefully grown in just the right soil with just the right conditions to produce the best grapes for wine.  Once the grapes are harvested, their juice would be collected and allowed to ferment.

Fermentation of wine takes several weeks for fermentation.  Vintage, quality wine could sit for years before consumption.

The Wine Tells the Wrong Story

The bridegroom tasting the wine thought this wine was of high quality, possibly a vintage old wine.  When observers tasted the wine, they drew the logical conclusions.  The grapes had been grown, harvested, pressed, fermented, bottled, stored and delivered in order to be consumed.  This would have been a minimum of a year process.  If the wine was a vintage quality, decades of time could be assumed.

The wine that was drank at the wedding tells the attendants a story that was not true.  The observers would have came to the wrong conclusion about the age of the wine based purely on the story the wine told.

If you could do modern day chemical analysis on the wine, you could determine the type of grape, the region the grape was grown, and possibly the time-frame when the grapes were harvested.  The observations and science of the wine would tell a significantly different story than reality.  That which appears to have age, actually was new.

The Wine Had a Purpose

When God creates, he does so with purpose.  The wine that God created in Canaan was for a purpose.  It would have done not good for Jesus to create grape juice and wait for it to ferment.  It would have defeated the purpose.  There would have been no reason to create.

God creates with Purpose!

The Creation Tells the Same Story

When you observe the size of the universe and the distant starts and galaxies  we would conclude that the universe is billions of light years old.  After all, it would take the billions of years for light to travel from the stars to our planet in order for us to see them.

When God creates, He does so with purpose.

Genesis 1 tells us that the stars were created for the purpose of signs, seasons, days and years.  In order for the starts to serve their purpose, they needed to be created with the light already at the earth.

In order for us to see the stars of Orion’s belt, not only did God create the stars, he also created the rays of light between the star and our planet.  It is this light from these distant stars that allow them to fulfill their God-Designed purpose.

The Age of Things

So, is the universe old or young?  Is it 6,000 years old or 13.7 billion years old?

The answer is YES.

The earth was created 6,000 years ago, but was not created new.  It was created old.  It was created with age.  It was created to fulfill its purpose.

When Adam was created, he was a full grown adult.  He had no parents, but if you conducted a DNA test, you could determine the DNA of his Mom and Dad.

If you took a bore sample from the tree in the middle of the garden, the tree God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from, it would have rings.  Each ring represents a year.  But the tree was created new, but it has age.  Why?  To fulfill its purpose of bearing fruit.

Doesn’t That Make God A Liar?

So if God created the earth to look old, but it was in fact young, isn’t that deceptive?  Isn’t that a lie?

The lie would be for God to create the earth young with age and to tell us in fact the earth is old.  That would be a lie.

But what God has done in the Scriptures is tell us over and over again, the earth is young.  It just looks old.

By listening to the only eyewitness of the event, we can understand the truth of the origins of the universe and all that is in it.  In six days he created the universe and all that is in it and on the seventh day he rested.