Say What?


A parable is, literally, something “cast alongside” something else. Jesus’ parables are stories that are “cast alongside” a truth in order to illustrate that truth.[1] It’s good to be reminded of the definition of “parable,” especially when we run across one such as in our reading today. Is Jesus really asking us to lie, cheat, and steal? At first glance, it certainly appears so. But we can often find guidance when we remind ourselves to interpret one particular passage of Scripture in light of all other Scripture. Certainly, lying, cheating, and stealing do not fit into other scriptural teachings. So, what do you think Jesus is focusing on in these paragraphs? 

  • As you read the passage today, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as you seek to understand the truth embedded in this parable.


16:1 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

 English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What is the manager’s offense that’s referenced?
  2. What kind of “strategy” did the manager rely on in establishing his plan?
  3. What is the strange response of the master, when he finds out about the manager’s plan?
  4. In verses 10-13, we begin to get a clearer picture as to the real subject of the parable. What do you sense is the real focus of the parable?
  5. If the focus is money, what is the main point to be learned from this parable?
  6. In what ways can we use money generously, and wisely, for the kingdom of God?



As we begin reading this parable, initially the focus seems to be the master, or possibly the manager. But verses 10-13 clearly change the focus. The real point of the parable is money. Specifically, generosity with money. Despite the poor character shown by the manager, he is commended for being shrewd with money. In fact, he is commended above those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus. Why? Because even though he has a very finite and limited hope of “future,” he understands the importance of preparing for it. How much more should we use generosity, and specifically money, to be a tool for preparing for a future which is far greater and vaster than anything this manager can even imagine? What is money, but a tool loaned to us by God, who owns all things? Don’t ever fall into the trap of loving money, because it will become your master.

  • Ask God to help you be wise with money.
  • Ask him to offer you constant reminders that “you cannot serve God and money” (vs. 13).