Ends justifies the means?

Luke 16
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager
1 Jesus 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[a] of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’
7″Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
” ‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
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. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

10 thoughts on “Ends justifies the means?”

  1. Patrick Brennan has a great sermon on this: he says Jesus encourages us to be innovative about the things that really matter in life, just as the business world does about what matters to it. And Jesus wants us to learn from the business world. See http://www.30goodminutes.org/csec/sermon/brennan_4207.htm.
    And the best explanation I have read of this parable is in (I think I have the right book) “The Parables of Jesus” by James Boyce

  2. Alex,
    that does not let you off the hook, 🙂 deal with this story, what does Jesus mean??
    Is it acceptable to use what money we have to reach people in innovative ways? How do businesses attract new people? Are there things we should not do, and why?

    My view is that Jesus encourages us to be pragmatic with our finances and push the boundaries, in order to reach people.
    Thanks for the reference Geoff

  3. Of course we can and should be innovative. However there are limits. Paul said we shun secret and disgraceful methods. We come in weakness and trembling. We come in the power of the gospel, not gimmicks. That’s not to say we aren’t cultural – use of technology, for example, is cultural, music is cultural (although arguably not all church music is biblical!), blogs are cultural, etc, etc. I’m not against pragmatism, and am beginning to lean there more myself, but it must be a biblically reflective pragmatism. Not an anything goes approach. Jesus didn’t just call us to save people, he called us to form them into his image. The Kingdom is near. You get the idea.

  4. P.S. If you’re asking me if Jesus condoned the use of fraud or workplace theft, absolutely not. The point was being savvy with resources. One preacher made the point the guy had probably been overcharging the clients anyway – a bit for the boss and a bit for him.

    If we take one passage out of the broader biblical context we can, literally, condone anything.

  5. You have to do better than that Alex!!

    Money changers had their own selfish interests at heart, and many commentators believe their sin was in overcharging for the necessary tools for worship.

    If you are giving away a car, how can that be classified as being like money changers?

    Dont get me wrong, there may be other arguements, but I dont reckon that one fits.

  6. One of the other criticisms was that they were using the court of the gentiles which pushed gentile worshipers right out of any access to the temple. Since door prizes aren’t doing that, that doesn’t fit either.

    OK, so why are we offering door prizes for the Easter service? Presumably to ‘get them in’? Why are we so desperate to get them in? Jesus wasn’t that desperate. In fact, he seemed to go out of his way to sort out those who were serious from those who weren’t. Always welcoming and accepting of the poor and needy, even those coming to him because he met those needs. But if anyone has the audacity to compare door prizes to the power and compassion of that ministry… Nor was Paul who preached a simple but offensive Gospel message, a popularist.

    Really, doesn’t this just feed into the whole consumer mentality of our society? Haven’t we learned anything from the history of missions? In PNG it is called the cargo cult – when the missionaries moved in they brought all kinds of goodies to get people in. They’re still paying for that mistake today.

    If I may continue 🙂

    Jesus wasn’t concerned about getting people in when he sent the disciples out two by two. In fact, he told them to wipe their feet before leaving any home that rejected their message.

    Somehow God invites us to join him in this gospel mission. He even depends on our preaching the gospel, for some reason. And yet, it doesn’t all depend on us. We need to keep pragmatism in one hand and the holiness and sovereignty of God in the other.

    Here endeth the lesson.

    For now 🙂

  7. Theres some good thoughts there Alex.

    A tension between being attractive and relevant, and being prophetic and challenging.
    I see both in Jesus’ ministry.
    Along with telling the rich young ruler he must give up his wealth, he also fed the 5000

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