What does it say?
Luke 16 is often difficult for Western readers. A servant (steward or manager) is dismissed for improprieties. He quickly calls in the tenant farmers that rent land from his boss and reduces the amount of their harvest they had agreed to pay as rent. He knows that they will reciprocate by helping him when he is out of a job. The owner sees what he has done and has to commend him for his quick thinking. Beginning in verse 9, Jesus’ teaches various principles of effective management of resources.
A sense of urgency permeates Luke 17. Jesus knows that he is soon coming to Jerusalem where crucifixion awaits him. He gives incredibly practical information to his followers about discerning what is and is not urgent. He speaks of forgiveness, faith, gratitude and the coming of the final manifestation of the kingdom, comparing that time to the days of Noah and Lot.
What does it mean?
The underlying message of Luke 16 is the need to use our resources to influence people positively and eternally. The question is not how much money or other resources we might have, but rather what we do with what has been entrusted to us. Even the story of the rich man who dies and goes to hell shows how he grew comfortable and controlling with his riches, ignoring the needs of those around hi and even of his own family. When he finally awakens to reality, it is too late.
Nothing is more powerful than to know that we are forgiven, and to forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiving others is evidence of having received forgiveness. Faith is similar to what Jesus said about resources in Luke 16. It’s not a matter of having more faith, but using what faith we have. We don’t need great faith, but faith in a great God. The teaching on things to come and the comparisons with the days of Noah and Lot are not to help us determine the time of Christ’s second coming, but to teach us that our priority is not to set dates for the fulfillment of prophecy, but rather to be always ready in our faith, stewardship and obedience.
How will I respond?
Do I know absolutely that God has forgiven me my sin? Is there someone that I need to forgive regardless of what they have done to me or whether or not they will reciprocate? I need to do this now!