Playing it smart
Luke 16: I want you to be smart in the same way.
It’s an interesting story for Jesus to tell because the hero’s a crook. This guy mismanages his bosses’ money and then, when he’s caught he mismanages it some more in a quick witted move to find a soft landing elsewhere. Jesus doesn’t advocate that his followers be good at making shady deals, but he does urge us to play it smart. At one level I can respond by spiritualizing the story. That is I can come away having been reminded that I’m to be smart in how I go about the business of the Lord. For instance, I can use my wits to find ways to reach out to lost people and not just stand for the status quo all the time. However, I don’t think this is the primary application of this story. Rather, Jesus is talking about living smart, being alert to opportunities, and taking advantage of openings. When I see an investment opportunity I’m not to turn away piously declaring that “God will take care of me.” Rather, I’m to explore the possibility that the investment opportunity might be God’s way of doing just that. Jesus’ story isn’t a license for me to take unfair advantage of people but it is a reminder that Christians should live smart lives and not think we’re too spiritual to take advantage of legitimate opportunities that come our way.
Take Away: A person can be ethical in the highest sense of the word and still be a good in business.
2Corinthians 8: We don’t want anyone suspecting us of taking one penny of this money for ourselves.
Paul’s collecting an offering for the Christian poor in Jerusalem. The idea came from the churches in Macedonia but has now spread throughout the Gentile Church. There’s no pressure as to what individuals give. Paul just urges people to give the best they are able. He does note though, that in spite of the Macedonian Christians going through some hard times of their own that they’ve set the giving bar pretty high. Now, Paul’s sending some folks to Corinth to collect their offering and take it to Jerusalem. He’s quite business like in his approach and wants to assure them that Titus won’t be alone in caring for this money but will be joined by another trustworthy individual in handling it. The Apostle adds that he doesn’t want anyone to have any reason to think he’s skimming expense money off the top of this designated offering. He wants them to be confident that everything they give will go to its designated purpose. As a pastor I’ve always followed Paul’s approach in money matters. I try to stay away from handling church cash if at all possible. Also, in the church we deal with money handling issues using accepted business practices along with a dose of sanctified common sense. Like Paul, we want to handle money and other church assets in such a way that no reasonable person will have reason to question our honesty. Beyond that, of course, we’re well aware that the Almighty sees it all and that someday we’ll stand before him in Judgment.
Take Away: Good business practices are good business for the church.