Faithful In a Very Little – Luke 16

In verses 1-10 of Luke chapter 16, Jesus tells the story of the “dishonest manager.” He said in verses 10-11:

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. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?

English: An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating...

English: An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Luke 16:19-21 in the Bowyer Bible, Bolton, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is just one of many examples in which God’s word tells us that He really does “sweat the small stuff.” No act of kindness or unkindness is too small. No act of mercy or being unmerciful is too incidental. No act of honesty or dishonesty goes unnoticed by the Lord. Integrity is of no small measure in His eyes.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Luke 12, Luke 13, Luke 14, Luke 15, Luke 16

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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The Dishonest Manager – (Luke 16)

The “Parable of the Unjust Steward” (in some translations, it is the “dishonest manager”) is admittedly difficult to understand at a certain point. It is obvious to any honest 🙂 person that Jesus does not suggest that dishonesty is “commendable.” But the way that verses 8 and 9 are translated makes it difficult to precisely get the full meaning.

The steward or manager in question likely refers to a chief servant of a rich man’s household. He has been trusted with running the day to day affairs of the house, which include the buying and selling of goods produced by the land. Charges of waste by either incompetence of dishonesty (or both) are brought, and no denial is made. Instead, the steward (who knows he is losing his job) plots how he might make friends of those who are indebted to the lord of the house.

In one of Jesus' parables, an unjust steward was fired from his job. But he was shrewd, so he quickly called in his master's debtors and reduced or canceled their debts, so that he would have new friends (Luke 16:1-18).

In one of Jesus’ parables, an unjust steward was fired from his job. But he was shrewd, so he quickly called in his master’s debtors and reduced or canceled their debts, so that he would have new friends (Luke 16:1-18).

The steward conspires with several debtors to “cook the books” on each end, so that they will owe less money – reasoning that helping the debtors in this way will secure their good graces for himself in the future. Obviously, the debtors who went along with such a scheme were just as guilty as the steward.

The parable seems pretty straightforward up to that point. Then in verse 8, the lord of the house (having discovered the scheme) “commends” the steward for his shrewdness. It is pretty easy as well to understand this as a “I’ve gotta hand it to you” type of commendation. We are all smart enough to know that the lord of the house is not offering praise of approval to the man for stealing from him! The verse continues with Jesus’ own words: “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”

The “sons of this world” (referred to elsewhere as “sons of darkness”) and the “sons of light” are the same two opposing groups that have existed since the fall of man (Genesis 3:15). They are referred to elsewhere, such as by  Jesus in John 12:36, and by the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:5.  Certainly, the “sons of this world” are more shrewd with their own kind.

Then comes the difficulty in verse 9:
“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.”

The parable of the talents, a story about faithful stewardship -- Matthew 25: 14-30.

The parable of the talents, a story about faithful stewardship — Matthew 25: 14-30.

We have read many commentaries that offer various explanations of this verse. Some are quite awful, frankly. One of the better ones says that this is sarcastic irony. There may be some validity in that analysis actually. But the most correct analysis (in our opinion) is that, properly translated, the verse fits into a rhetorical question. Some have pointed to this by such things as the combination of a subjunctive verb along with a future indicative verb in the Greek. We confess to being largely illiterate when it comes to Greek. But change the wording accordingly to “should you make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings?” and it makes perfect sense.

Obviously, the answer is no. Jesus would certainly NOT want us to make friends by using unrighteous wealth. This holds true even if you hold that “unrighteous” in this case simply refers to all material wealth, and that it doesn’t mean anything bad. Making friends with wealth is not going to get you into any eternal dwelling!

The point is missed by most commentators. This is not really a lesson about wealth. Neither is it about prudent handling of your worldly affairs (the steward was a thief)! Nor is it specifically about making prudent preparations for your spirituality. It is about honesty. And it is about where, and to what (or whom) your heart belongs.

Jesus explains that very well Himself after the parable:

“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.”
and
“No servant can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and money.”

Nuff said?

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Proverbs 31 – The Last Chapter

pray-002The last chapter of the book of Proverbs is considered by many to be like an appendix, as it is very different from any previous chapter. For our full comments on this chapter concerning the “Excellent Wife,” please see this previous post.

Our time this year in the Wisdom Literature is coming to a close, and this is it for the Book of Proverbs. Though we went through the entire book twice, we still covered only a small portion of the verses. We hope you will spend more time in this wonderful book. If you have not seen it already, please take time to read this post with helpful tips for reading this book of wisdom.

As for this chapter, we would like to leave you with this thought. If you find a good godly woman, hold on to her with all your love and honor. If you are a good godly woman, thank you. It is you and others like you that make our children grow up right, and it is you that make our men better men. With respect to that, we salute you with the final words of this book:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 30 – Too Wonderful

eagle-001Proverbs 30 is one chapter we can be sure was not Solomon’s because it tells us straight out that it is “the words of Agur son of Jakeh.” We don’t really know anything about him, but his style is certainly distinguishable from that of Solomon. Repeated throughout the chapter are his statements of three things that are described one way, and four that are described another way. For example, verses 18-19:

Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a virgin

These verses have been interpreted different ways, but the one that makes the most sense is the obvious connection to the first part of the chapter. There is much in this world that is wonderful, and much that we should not even worry about trying to understand. Some things are gifts of wonder from God, and should simply be enjoyed. Others are simply an enigma.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 28 – Blessed “Fear”

Proverbs 28:14:

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always,
but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity

Even when they were old men, Joshua and Caleb remained faithful to the Lord as warriors and leaders of God's people. Here Caleb asks Joshua for the area of Hebron, where he can settle with his family (Joshua 14:6-15).

Even when they were old men, Joshua and Caleb remained faithful to the Lord as warriors and leaders of God’s people. Here Caleb asks Joshua for the area of Hebron, where he can settle with his family (Joshua 14:6-15).

Those who fear the Lord are often blessed with earthly gain as well at various times in their lives, but that is not the real lesson here. Those who live their lives in the light of God’s word, worshiping and reverently serving Him, know a happiness and peace that the unbeliever simply cannot understand. But those who harden their hearts against the Lord will ultimately fall into great peril. This is certainly true of the day of judgment, but given time in this life, such will often catch up with them in the way of earthly troubles as well. We see it in the news quite often. It just sometimes takes longer for some than others.

The Book of proverbs is full of verses that speak about integrity. Solomon obviously placed a high value on it, and rightly so, as it is probably the most visible by-product of the Christian life when that commitment is adhered to. Chapter 28 is no exception, as it deals with character in several verses. Verse 18, for example:

Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,
but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall

Our integrity is one of the few very precious things we possess that many people are all too willing to give away. Yet those who manage to keep theirs intact will never regret doing so. But those who have sold it will, without exception, one day pay a dear price themselves for having done so.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 27 – As Long As My Breath Is In Me

Job_007Job is adamant that he will not surrender his position in this chapter, but he still believes God has caused his troubles. Verse 2 begins “As God lives, who has taken away my right,and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter…”But he says that as long as his breath is in him, he will not speak falsehoods or utter deceit. In other words, he will not say that he has done wrong, simply to appease them. He will hold on to his integrity, and hold fast his righteousness. His heart does not tell him that he has guilt.

As for any enemies (other than God himself, of course), Job says they are the wicked, and any that rise up against him are the unrighteous. God, he is still convinced, will be his witness and his avenger. He puts forward that God will not hear their cry, and they do not call upon the Lord at all times – implying that he does. Then he begins to show his own confidence and says that he will teach his friends about God. He tells them that they have seen themselves, but they have become vain in their thinking.

Job then goes into a long explanation of what will happen to the wicked and oppressors – but it is the “heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty.” Job knows that their punishment will come indeed. It just is not set to do so swiftly in this life. This is the truth that his three friends have missed.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 28 – Character

Sunrise_over_MauiThis chapter has plenty of verses comparing the righteous to the unrighteous.  Verse 1 (“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion”) and verse 6 (“Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways”) caught our attention.  The former perhaps having more to do with conscience than the latter.  But both obviously addressing matters of character.

Always trying to do the right thing definitely has multiple benefits from the perspective of both verses.  Peace of mind, confidence, and never having to look over your shoulder are worth a lot.  The satisfaction that  comes from having that kind of character is priceless.  By “walking in integrity,” we come out ahead now, and we surely will come out ahead when our walk in this world is done.  Many radio and TV show “man on the street” type of interviews often revolve around the question of  “what would you do for a million dollars?”  Money can’t buy any of those important things we just mentioned, so why should our integrity be for sale?

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 11 – The Integrity of the Upright

For helpful tips on reading the Book of Proverbs, see this previous post.

This is our day of the week for Proverbs this year, and today it is to Proverbs Chapter 11 that we turn.  And it is on three verses that we will focus. Verses 3, 5, and 6 all seem to say the same thing; and in truth they all convey much the same meaning, but there are some differences.  Let’s examine them all three, and then we’ll try to tie them all together.  First, let’s look at verse three:

“The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.”

integrity

integrity (Photo credit: glsims99)

Integrity is a characteristic of the upright (those who live their lives according to God’s will).  It is that integrity which guides them in their daily lives.  The crookedness of the unfaithful is the converse.  The lack of integrity (here, “crookedness”) is a characteristic of those who are treacherous (the NKJV, the unfaithful).  That lack of integrity will destroy them.  Now verse five:

“The righteousness of the blameless keeps his way straight,
but the wicked falls by his own wickedness.”

None of us are truly “blameless” in the sense of being without sin.  What it means here is living a life that is above reproach – living in such a manner that would encourage others to serve God, rather than being a stumbling block.  Righteousness is being justified by the grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:20-24).  It is not earned, but it is freely given.  We can fall away from that righteousness (Romans 11:22, Galatians 5:4), but it is that righteousness that will keep the “blameless” on the right path. The wicked, on the other hand, fall by their own wickedness (more about that in a moment).  Finally, verse 6:

“The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.”

The grace of the Lord saves those who live according to His word.  But the treacherous are taken captive by their lust.  The NKJV substitutes “unfaithful,” but the “treacherous” defines it better – those who deceive, who pretend to have integrity, but secretly do not live that way.

cross-005Integrity is a commodity that seems to be in short supply at times.  But is integrity in every detail of our lives important?  What would you do for a million dollars?  Is your integrity for sale?  Sadly, the answer for many is yes.  Especially when it comes to “little things.”  A little “white lie” is sometimes necessary, right?  And so what if I really knew the clerk at the big store chain gave me too much money back?  Not my fault their employees can’t count change, is it?  But Jesus gave us the truth about this in Luke 16:10: “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.

There are few people who want to be thought of by others as lacking in integrity.  So most people at least pretend to have it.  By the same token, even those that have wicked or deceptive intent, do not want to be thought of as such by others.  And so, the wicked, the deceivers, the unfaithful sometimes live out lives for a long time fooling many of the faithful (and the unfaithful as well) into believing they are something they are not.  But they are trapped by their own lust – their own wickedness brings them down.

Psalm 7:14-16 tells us how it comes about, speaking of the wicked who conceive evil and give birth to lies:

“He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
His mischief returns upon his own head…”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 10 – Integrity and Love

Today, we begin our weekly Tuesday reading of the chapters in Proverbs which look more like what we would expect from the book.  Chapter 10 has 32 verses; but for today, this blog will look closer at just three that deal with integrity and love. For tips on getting the most out of Proverbs, see this previous post.

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)

heart001If we consistently try to do the right thing in all situations, refusing to compromise on truth, honor, and good will toward others, it fosters a peace within us.  When we know that our intentions are pure, our conscience gives us serenity.  We know that we will bring no justifiable harm upon ourselves because of our own actions, nor will we be as likely to bring others to harm.  But, as 1 Timothy 5:25-26 agrees, those who scheme and connive, who try to hide their corrupt actions and their deceitful heart cannot keep such a secret forever.  How many times in the last few years have we known of someone, famous or not so famous, whose scandalous behavior over a period of years finally came out?  The shame they brought upon themselves was bad enough, but what about the people close to them that were hurt?  Integrity matters – to God, and to us.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12)

“The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.” (Proverbs 10:18)

It is easy to move many people to discord, gossip, and to be hurtful to one another by our own hateful thoughts, words, or actions. Sometimes people do so without realizing they are doing wrong.  It is a matter of the heart; and the cure is love. James 5:20 and 1 Peter 4:8 repeat that “love covers a multitude of sins.”  When we seek to think of, and to do good to, others in a manner that shows we truly care about them, that love affects us  as well.  The reason that “love covers all offenses” is that it changes us – our hearts, our minds, and our lives.  It makes us better and happier men and women.  It was this wisdom that Jesus was trying to convey when he said that loving your neighbor was the second greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-39.

The first part of verse 18 makes it clear that it is not enough to just hide ones hatred for someone and keep ones mouth shut about it.  Your words then betray you and make you worse than a mere hater, because you become a liar as well.  The change must come from within the heart.  The second part of the verse (“whoever utters slander is a fool”) ties the two verses together.  The answer is not to just “let it all out” and speak ill of those for whom you hold ill will, for by doing so, you harm them as well as yourself.

Wisdom demands that we examine our own thoughts and actions, and let the Lord speak to us through His word, helping us to shape our lives and our hearts.  What can we do this week to show someone we care about them?

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy

Please “like” us on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/bobsboy01

___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 2 – The Value of Wisdom

English: Judgement of Solomon

English: Judgement of Solomon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is generally thought by many that Solomon in these verses that contain the words “my son” is addressing his direct offspring in particular.  While that may certainly be the case, it is good to remember that these are the Spirit-inspired words of God; and they are meant for sons (and daughters) descended from this Davidic line (and that of Abraham) which includes all Christians, as confirmed in Galatians 3:29.

The seeking of wisdom that is being referred to in the verses here is done by getting to know God by studying His word.  If we diligently and earnestly seek that knowledge like the treasure that it is (verse 4), we will gain the understanding that we need.  But it takes more than that – we must apply it to our lives – holding fast and cherishing our integrity like a treasure as well (verse 7), for it is that sort of life, coupled with the thirst for knowledge of Him, that will bring wisdom into our hearts and make that knowledge pleasant to our souls (verse 10).  If we live in an upright manner, with integrity (verse 21) , we will have a home – in heaven – forever.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.