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"'But if he says to himself, 'The master is certainly taking his time,' begins maltreating the servants and maids, throws parties for his friends, and gets drunk, the master will walk in when he least expects it, give him the thrashing of his life and put him back in the kitchen peeling potatoes.'" Luke 12:45,46 (The Message).
What is this imagery all about? This story reveals some serious flaws in the manager's character and thinking.
Flaw number one: He forgot who he was. In a previous meditation we exposed the faulty thinking that puts title above function. This man forgot that, as a manager, he was supposed to do what managers do. Being manager of the household did not give him licence to behave as he pleased. It carried with it the responsibility of fulfilling the functions of a manager faithfully.
Believers in Jesus are first of all, sons of God. That is not a title, it's a function. It's who we are. We have a privileged position in God's household but with it comes the function of sonship, representing our Father to the world. We can never abuse that privilege by doing as we please because that would cancel out who we are.
Flaw number two: His position was only a veneer. What do I mean? He functioned according to who was watching him. As long as the master was around he did what he was supposed to do but, when the master left him in charge, he exposed his true nature.
How tragic when God's people behave like that! This reveals a 'Pharisee' mask, playing to the crowd as long as the right people are watching. To be a son of God is to be like Jesus in our inner core, no matter who is watching. It's to be who we are in private, and to function according to who we are because of our attachment to our Master.
Flaw number three: His old nature was covered, not transformed. His old, selfish nature was masked by his position. He carried out his duties as a manager, caring for the master's household, but underneath, he was lazy and selfish. As soon as the opportunity presented, he reverted to his old self, dropped his inhibitions, partied and abused alcohol and people, wasted his master's resources and made a thorough fool of himself.
The true test of sonship is the answer to the question, What do we really want to do? Are we repulsed by the thought of doing the things we used to do in our old way of life or is there a hankering after those things which is masked by our veneer of faith in Jesus. How do we react in a crisis? Does our old nature pop back up without our thinking about it or do we respond out of the peace of God which supernaturally rules in our hearts?
Flaw number four: He forgot that the master was coming back and that he was accountable to him. He was only living for the pleasure of the moment and forgetting that every action had a consequence.
This can be a serious flaw in our thinking if we don't learn to step back and take the long look at life. Jesus is the perfect example of a person who lived with both this life and the life to come in mind. Without this mind-set He would never have gone to the cross. Hebrews 12:3 puts in it a nutshell. "...who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Flaw number five: He did not value his position enough to put it ahead of temporary pleasure. This response to temptation exactly reflects Adam's choice in the Garden of Eden. He did not value his relationship with God enough to guard it at the expense of selfish desires. What he lost was unspeakably tragic. And the same with the man in the story.
This should be our motivation above everything else, for being faithful to our calling, whatever that is. We are sons and daughters of God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus. Why would we want to forfeit that for the sake of satisfying our temporary and transient urges?
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