Three parables are found in Luke 15, each carrying similar story beats: something valuable is lost and, after a time, is found again, bringing joy to those who hoped to find it. Jesus uses the third parable, concerning two sons and their father, to emphasize the necessity of rejoicing when lost souls are returned to God (Luke 15:32). Jesus hopes to instill in the listeners true care for souls that values eternity far beyond any physical possession or desire.
The parable which follows in Luke 16 teaches that message openly. There is an unfaithful manager who has power over the master’s goods for a short time, since he is about to be dismissed (Luke 16:1-2). The manager has a problem: he needs a place to stay after he is removed from his master’s house. Rather than living richly in the moments prior to his removal, this manager shrewdly plans for the future (Luke 16:3-7).
Jesus teaches His listeners to plan for the future, and not just the earthly type. He teaches to plan for the eternal future which is coming after earthly wealth is destroyed (Luke 16:9). This manager saw the master’s goods as preparatory tools for the time following his management of them. To him, the goods held no value except to prepare him for life after his stewardship, so he shrewdly sacrificed those goods to make friends and a home for the time which would come after.
Jesus was looking to the future, yearning for Christians to be as shrewd as this manager. He desired for Christians to see their life and possessions as tools to prepare for the time after their management of them is over; after their life is over and eternity begins. Jesus desires clarity, sharpness of mind, and clever use of earthly riches to find souls that are lost. Jesus desires shrewd Christians who keep their wits about them, who keep their goals always before their eyes, and who never lose sight of just how short their management is, both of earthly possessions and relationships.
Are you behaving shrewdly, looking to the time after, or have you become so consumed with what happens now that you have forgotten what happens next? Forge relationships through heated trials using earthly possessions as tools to make salvation available and opportune for all. Use your possessions and your time to strengthen your relationships into eternity. That is what Jesus teaches us matters. All else is expendable.