Luke 16 (NIV)
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
1Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
3“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
5“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6” ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
7“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
” ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
8“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit
by Paul Chilcote:
Steward of All Life,
Three rules are essential to the proper use of my resources.
Enable me to gain all I can.
But as you bless my labors, guard me from harming my health, my mind, or my neighbor in the process.
May honest work and common sense be my guide.
Encourage me to save all I can.
Guard me from wasting your precious resources to gratify unhealthy and prideful desires.
May the most important legacy I leave behind be that of justice, integrity, and generosity.
And so empower me to give all I can.
In my efforts to be a good steward of your many blessings,
give me what I need to provide caringly for those I love,
open my heart to the needs of those who are close at hand,
and create a generous spirit within me to do good to all.
You have blessed my life in so many ways.
Teach me, O generous God, what it means to be a steward of your treasures.
10“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13“No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.”
Ezekiel 14:6 (ESV)
Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols.
14The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.
Since this chapter has such a focus on money, HERE is a song that does the same. ABBA sings “Money, Money, Money.”
16“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
18“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
The rich man wasn’t lost because he was rich. He was lost because he did not listen to the law and the prophets.
30” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
“They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
. . . an ironic statement, considering who is telling this story . . .
OR — as I heard Dr. R. C. Sproul tell in a recent sermon:
“I have learned how to answer people who try to make fun of me at parties with the old line, ‘Hey, preacher, say something religious.’ I answer, ‘Go to hell.'”
Stories / works of fiction about Hell!
I like the John Ciardi translation of this all-encompassing poem. Dante believes that God’s punishment is just and that the punishment fits the crime. So the nine circles of Hell show that the less loving and more selfish one’s life, the more harsh one’s hereafter.
Quote from the book:
Midway in our life’s journey I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood. How shall I say
what wood that was! I never saw so drear,
so rank, so arduous a wilderness!
Its very memory gives a shape to fear.
Death could scarce be more bitter than that place!
But since it came to good, I will recount
all that I found revealed there by God’s grace.
C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce.
Lewis pictures a bus that takes people from Hell to Heaven where they can stay — if they choose. But choosing to stay means giving up one’s carefully tended sin . . .
Quote from the book:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”