What You Can Learn from a Cheater
By falling into the trap of treating money as an end in itself, we miss things that are far more precious.
“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.” – Luke 16: 8
A dishonest steward got word that his rich boss was onto him. Instead of owning up, the steward used his final days on the job to cut deals with the creditors so that someone would help him out when he got canned. (Check out the whole parable at Luke 16: 1 – 9.)
Jesus says we can learn from this guy. Really?
I have a tendency — true confessions here — toward what folk wisdom calls being “penny wise and pound foolish,” which means you hunt bargains while in other ways, ways to which you are often blind, you actually waste money foolishly. Just the other day while shopping a bargain I scored a $53 parking ticket. Made the whole venture kind of silly. Or you get a really great deal on a case of wine until you taste it and know who got the deal, and it wasn’t you. The penny-pinching thing can be a kind of addiction.
So the dishonest steward was, at the very least, not a penny pincher. He was actually quite extravagant in his use of money (though it happened to be someone else’s money).
For him, money was not an end in itself. It was an instrument. A means to an end. We can learn from that.
By being too tight with a dollar, we can miss the divine intent. By falling into the trap of treating money as an end in itself, we miss things that are far more precious. Like the chance to be generous for a good cause, or the joy of getting a beautiful gift for a loved one, or hosting a wonderful, and yes extravagant, dinner for dear friends.
Don’t be so uptight about money that you miss out on life.
Help me, Holy One, not to be a damn fool but to be a fool for Christ. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.