Lowering Amounts Owed—Good Money Policy or Bad?
Our last Devo wrestled with a scandalous story where Jesus presented a household manager who gets fired, but before he hands over the books, he dramatically lowers the debt creditors owe his master. I asked you to think about how Jesus could ever present this character as an example of wise behavior when it comes to money and how Jesus could say in the resolution of the story that the master commends his servant’s behavior.
In order to get at some answers, I asked some questions and here are my answers:
1. Jesus uses the term 'lord" in His story. Who does Jesus say needs to be our Lord? The master in Jesus’ story is God, His Father. Luke does present Jesus as divine, but when Jesus closes this section stressing that we cannot serve God and mammon (Lk. 16:13), the implication is that Jesus is referring to His Father, not Himself. Jesus demands that God needs to be our master and everything we do needs to be in service to Him.
2. In Jesus’s story the steward is managing his master’s material resources. How are we like this manager--only handling what belongs to another? From Jesus’ perspective all our resources belong to God; therefore, we need to use them only as He would desire. We can’t say, for example, that this is my “good time money.” I’m going to blow it at a gaming table in Las Vegas. How does God feel about using His money like this?
3. How does God the Father feel about canceling debts? Jesus repeatedly tells us stories about gracious forgiveness and uses the image of canceling debt for the cancellation of our debt of sin. In fact, under Old Testament Law every seventh year Israelite’s had to cancel one another’s debts. Check out Deuteronomy 15:1-6. So when we are in the position of power and have debt owed to us, what does Jesus’ story say about relieving the pressure on those who owe us? How does Jesus’ story apply to the millions of dollars of debt owed by today’s college graduates? This leads us to the next question.
4. Is the generous lowering of indebtedness for those who can't afford to pay a prudent way of handling finances? In the end who comes out ahead? The one who scrumptiously makes debtors pay every last cent, or the one who relieves the pressure and is willing to take a reduced payoff?
In Jesus’ story the prudent lowering of debt is viewed as good financial policy. As followers of Jesus, we have to decide whether we agree with Jesus about the principle of grace when applied to finances. If you think Jesus is wrong, there is no need to argue. He tells us who gets to enjoy His heavenly rooms and who does not.
“And I tell you, ‘Make for yourselves friends with this world’s money so that when it is gone, you will be received into the eternal tent.” - Luke 16:9
LORD, this week help Mary and me to continue to keep investing in heaven where we don’t have to worry about whether Wall Street plunges because of the BREXIT vote. Help us keep making friends because of our graciousness with our finances.
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