In the gospel story of the shrewd manager, Jesus identified a man who transitioned from being an unsuitable employee to a wise and generous man. Perhaps this is what Warren Buffett was thinking of when he talked about sinners having a future. The bad manager developed an exit strategy from his position that benefited the customer, made his boss look good and opened doors of opportunity for him by being generous. Remember the story? He took the customers and gave a 50% reduction on one bill and 20% on another. He found a way to make the accounts more equitable to all.
Following the story, Jesus taught the listening disciples and Pharisees some valuable life lessons.
While the story is about the transition of the bad manager, we also learn something about the man’s boss. His master called the shots and had the right to fire his employee for performance and integrity issues. The boss also was making significant profits, otherwise the huge discounts on the wheat and oil bills would not have been tolerated. He commended his employee for making a wise decision.
Jesus used this point to acknowledge the world is often smarter in their dealings than religious people are. By deflating the ego of Pharisees present, he invites them to use their power and resources to make friends in the community. Give fair and generous treatment so that when your day of influence and prominence is gone, you will have developed the right kind of heart to belong to the eternal realm. The shrewd manager quickly learned the value of taking care of people so they will appreciate you and be moved to reciprocate.
This raises the question of doing something with strings attached. While true generosity is not based on giving to get, it would be a denial to ignore the rule of reciprocity. When you do something good, there is a returning goodness that will come in time. If people do not reciprocate when you act kindly and generously, do not despair. Your responsibility is to do good things. It is not your concern whether people owe you. That only serves to diminish the generous spirit.
When we exercise generosity and practice good business, we earn friends for ourselves. There is no suggestion here of buying our way into Heaven, but a directive to use our earthly money to help others. By giving others a break and not demanding the highest price, we demonstrate a characteristic of God’s eternal Kingdom. Generosity and fair trade reflect God’s character. How you spend your money and bill others is a transferable treasure into God’s Kingdom. It is a Kingdom value that Jesus calls us to live by now.
Apparently there are no stingy or greedy people welcomed into eternal dwellings.