The Generous Life
Week 6: Luke 16:1-13
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Putting this truth into practice in every way - in our relationships, our work, our speech, the management of our finances – this is what we are calling the generous life. It’s the best way to live. You do not need to have a lot to be generous. The story of the widow giving her two small coins in Luke 21:1-3 illustrates that clearly. But the impacts and opportunities do increase when we manage our resources well and leverage them with foresight for kingdom purposes. Jesus told stories or parables to drive home this point, sometimes in surprising ways that were intended to shock his audience into thinking differently. This week we will look at one such parable in Luke 16. Keep in mind that parables generally have a main point and that the details are not meant to be stretched too far when interpreting the parable. They often are there simply to make the story more interesting or shocking. Jesus wants us to manage our resources well so that we can give more generously. Let’s listen in as Jesus teaches his disciples about this important aspect of following him.
Do you like to explain your thinking with metaphors or word pictures? Can you give an example of a story or metaphor that helped you to understand something in a new way?
Getting into the Text:
1. (Luke 16:1) To whom does Jesus direct this parable and its application? This teaching moment takes place in the context of Jesus correcting several areas of wrong thinking on the part of religious leaders (see Luke 15:1-3 and Luke 16:14-15). Jesus is implying here that the Pharisees were mismanaging resources that God had given them responsibility for. In what ways can God’s gifts be wasted or mismanaged?
2. (Luke 16:2-8a) Do you find it surprising that at the end of this parable the master commends the dishonest manager for his behavior? Why does he do that? The word translated “shrewd” here is an important word and is the same word translated “wise” in Luke 12:42-43 and Matthew 25:1-13. How do these passages shed light on what was commendable about the dishonest manager’s behavior in Luke 16?
3. (Luke 16:8b-9) Jesus seems to be asking his disciples to be more like the shrewd manager, especially in the way they think of worldly wealth. But certainly some aspects of the manager’s actions are not commendable. How should we interpret Jesus’ intent here? How are the parables of Luke 15 (situated immediately before this parable) and Jesus’ use of the word “eternal” in Luke 16:9 important clues?
4. (Luke 16:10-13) What does it mean to be faithful? How do these verses illustrate the way God develops us over time for generous living?
What has God entrusted to you? What specifically does it look like for you to be faithful with those things? What are one or two next steps you can take to manage those resources well?