Not strong enough to dig ditches and not wanting to end up as a beggar on the street…
How many people feel that same way? You may be in a job that is redundant and where you have outlived your usefulness. What are you going to do? Perhaps someone is gunning for your position and you are faced with an unplanned career change. It would be easy to get stuck at blaming the economy, an unethical employer or believing that you can do no wrong.
While the manager had some problems that lead to his dismissal, his final days of work showed a praiseworthy strategy that caught Jesus’ attention. Though assessed as a poor manager of the master’s business, he decided to leave on a high note. He gave a 50% discount on the olive oil and 20% discount on the wheat bill. He realized that his business contacts were potential employers that would appreciate his kindness.
Where did the discount come from? Was the manager giving up his commission or was he intentionally cutting into the employer’s profit margin? If he was giving up his commission, he used his last pay cheque to buy a positive influence on the customers. Not only would they remember the good deal he gave, they would think it came from the employer. This would benefit all parties involved.
If the manager was cutting into the employer’s profits, he was doing something bad to protect his own interests. Would Jesus praise him for this?
Blogger Anne Robertson suggests a way of looking at the ethics of this story.
Let's say that a man is convicted of murdering his wife and is sentenced to prison. Further, let's say that on his way to begin serving his sentence he goes past a burning house with a child left inside. Figuring that misery awaits him anyway and figuring that saving a baby can't hurt his reputation, he dashes into the building and saves the child. A pastor is watching and goes home to write a sermon. "Why is it," he says the next Sunday "that this murderer can figure out that saving a child is a good thing and the 16 churchgoers who were there watching the fire burn, did nothing? This convict is smarter than all of them. Use the opportunities life presents to you to enhance God's reputation. The one who risks his own life to save another is living out the Gospel." [i]
If we look at the shrewd manager of Jesus’ story in this way, we see a man who was clearly guilty of wrongdoing, but was able to change his focus to help others in a meaningful way. Jesus was not disregarding the wrongs, but recognizing the futuristic thinking of a man with nowhere else to turn. Just because you have been very bad, you are not prohibited from doing something very good.