Not For Sale
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The Snare of the Intervening Opportunities
What biblical story explains the snare of the intervening opportunity than the story of Esther! Mordecai had challenged Esther to risk her life and go before King Ahasuerus and rescue the Jews. A wicked man called Haman had planned an ethnic cleansing of the Jews. Though Esther went to see the king illegally, God granted her favours. The King asked her to make her request and it would be granted up to half the kingdom. The king repeated this offer three times (Est. 5:3, 5:6, 7:2).
Something better had come up—or hadn’t it? Esther could have requested half the kingdom. Why? Because that would have made her equal to the king. In this case, she wouldn’t need the king’s power to rescue her people but use her own powers. But she remained focused on and loyal to the original mission. She never opted for half the kingdom.
Did Esther lose an opportunity? It is only a matter of speculation what could have happened if Esther opted for the offer of half the kingdom. One thing is certain though: the king knew that Esther had a petition and this petition was not about dividing the kingdom with her. The king used half the kingdom expression to show how much he was willing to address Esther’s concerns. If Esther took up the offer, the king would probably have hated her for being an opportunist and power thirsty.
The Shrewd Manager
Jesus told the parable of the shrewd manager and noted that the people of this world are clever in the way they deal with their kind. One needs to be ‘clever’ in order to deceive and it is a game in the world, characterized by deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:13).
“And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
“Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.”—Luke 16:1-7.
Initially, I used to think, contrary to what is written, that it was Jesus who commended the manager for his shrewdness. He couldn’t have done that. It was the steward’s master that commended his shrewdness (v.8). The master knew that he had been defrauded but it seems like he couldn’t recover his goods without the manager’s signature.
I like Jesus parables. They hide so much and whenever you discover something new in them, it gives a delightful feeling and a revival to the soul. Both the master and the manager were not wise. The master made a mistake by telling the manager that he was at the verge of losing his job. He could have called him to give an account without telling him that he was being dismissed.
The manager was also anything but wise. But if you consider him to have been wise, then it is the kind of wisdom that I would describe as the ‘wisdom of darkness.’
Upon digging deeper into this parable, I perceive that the Lord Jesus wanted believers to understand how the wisdom of the world is foolish. If the manager had a true wisdom—the ‘wisdom of light’ which could be as easily available as using common sense—he could have..:
i) understood that it pays far much more to live on his salary doing a faithful work than defraud his employer and wait to benefit from handouts from those who benefitted from his dishonesty.
ii) known that his solution was very temporary. It wasn’t going to be long before his master’s debtors have had enough of him. His response was impulsive.
iii) considered that his master’s debtors wouldn’t employ him after he had proved to them that he was dishonest (The amount of debt they owed implies that they were also businessmen. They could have probably considered employing the man).
iv) invested or saved part of the proceeds of his work. This could have given him something to depend on in an event of losing his job.
v) stopped deceiving himself that he won’t be caught in his mismanagement.
Paradoxically, the “children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (v. 8). What this means is that the children of darkness are clever in how to do the deals of darkness than the children of light are clever to do the deals of light.
We must ask ourselves and insist to answer ourselves: When God puts wealth in our hands to manage in our generation, what is the primary purpose? Is it to live large and luxurious or is it to minister to others?Anyone who preaches against tithing is like the shrewd manager cancelling what people ‘owe’ to God. He does this so that he can be accepted by the beguiled.
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