Amos 8:4-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-8, Luke 16:1-13
How to Use what You have to get the Highest Riches
When we were in the seminary, one of my classmates narrated an event he had with a little girl who attends the bloc rosary in his parish.
It is normal that when we go on apostolic works as seminarians, the bloc rosary members are given much attention. It helps to groom the kids in the knowledge and fear of God. According to the seminarian, he organised a feast of Our lady on the solemnity of the Assumption.
During the time for support, many people came out and supported the bloc rosary. Some of the people who gave their financial support to the bloc rosary also requested God’s intervention for a particular solution to their problems.
For example, some people came out and said “I am giving this particular amount asking God to make me pass my exams”.
In essence, they are trying to use what they have to get what they want. It was then that one of the little kids came out and handed the seminarian twenty naira (#20). She said in a lone voice, “ I want God to give me heaven”. Many people laughed at it.
We may laugh at the request of the innocent girl, hence sometimes we forget that what we want in life is not only what to eat, what to wear, where to go, the car to ride, the people to hang out with and the places to visit etc. Sometimes, you hear people use this popular statement “Use what you have to get what you want”.
This statement has found roots among grown-ups today and is grossly misunderstood. Sometimes when people say “use what you have to get what you want”, they mean, use your body to make money. It is so disheartening that many people have bought this idea.
We forget that despite whatever we crave in this world, there is an ultimate riches that we must have. It is not whether we can have it or not, but we must have it. We have neglected the highest riches.
The highest riches are what the little girl tries to gain through the little that she has. Though we cannot buy eternity with money, we see in this kid, the desire to gain the heavenly glory by all means.
Therefore, the readings of today focus on how we can use what you have to gain the highest riches; eternity.
Also, the highest riches depict our relationship with God and what we can gain from this relationship. The readings of today need a gradual analysis. So, we move step by step. We have to start from the gospel.
Jesus and the Parable of the Unjust Steward.
After the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus tells the parable of the unjust steward. This is one of those parables that are very difficult to understand and interpret.
This is the reason we have to take it gradually and do a step-by-step analysis to understand the meaning of the parable and what Jesus wants to tell us.
While talking to His disciples, he said that there was a rich man who had a steward. The steward was wasteful with his property. The rich man denounced him for being wasteful with his property. Because of how wasteful he is, the rich man called the steward and asked him to draw up the account of his stewardship, because he will no longer be a steward again.
When the steward saw that his time was up, He sought a way to help himself. He knows that if he eventually loses his job, he will suffer and he is not ready for that.
He is also not ready to beg. So, he planned on what to do if eventually he is dismissed from his position so that people can welcome him in their homes during this time.
Then he called his master’s debtors one by one and asked them how much they owed his master. If they say, One hundred measures of oil. He will tell them to rewrite it to a smaller amount, also making them to be dishonest.
In essence, He pretends as if he is doing good to them, using dishonest means to get what he wants and in essence, cheating his master more.
By making them lie with that amount, the steward works to get their friendship and still cage them because they also have lied, so they cannot but help him. He may expose them if they do not reciprocate.
Jesus says in this parable that the master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. One would then ask, why would the master praise Him? What message is Jesus trying to convey? Does it mean that Jesus is supporting dishonesty? Let us go into detail.
Who is A steward?
To fully understand this, we have to check the Greek derivation of this. The Greek word here to denote the word “steward” is οἰκονόμον (oikonomon) meaning manager, guardian and householder.
Therefore, the word that Luke uses here is different from a servant, which in Greek is diakonos and different also from slaves which in greek is doulos.
Therefore, unlike a servant, a steward is the head of a house. He is in charge. The Steward is like the caretaker. He does not merely serve, He is in charge.
The steward is one of a household that manages domestic concerns like the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts. He has a managerial position in the house, and it is because of this, that he is in charge of the master’s resources. I believe we can understand it better with this.
The Steward has to Render an Account.
In the gospel, the rich man denounced his steward for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer. This explains the true function of the steward, the responsibility expected of him and the limitation of his work.
1. The steward is only in charge of something. He is not the owner. He serves a rich man, in turn, the true riches belong to the rich man and not the steward. In the same way, we are stewards of God’s resources. We are stewards of God’s gifts and blessings. We are not the owner.
Whatever you have or have achieved in this world is not your making. You are only a steward. We are serving a rich Father, who is the true owner. This helps to explain our responsibilities and limitations.
2. The steward in this parable was just being wasteful with the rich man’s resources. He does not know what He will use them to do, so he just wastes the resources.
In the same way, we are wasting God’s resources. We do not know even know the reason God blesses us with those resources, gifts, time, children, possession, positions etc, we waste them because we do not understand them.
3. It’s due to this, that the rich man asks the steward to render an account to him because He wastes his resources. This also reminds us that one day we shall give an account of whatever is given to us.
What Shall I do?
When the Steward finds out what is against him, the steward immediately seeks a way out. He asks him “What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me.
1. This question can be applied to every aspect of life. When the steward sees that His master is already against him, he seeks a way out. He teaches us what one of the most important things to do also in our relationship with God.
The stewards sinned against His master and looked for a way out. When we sin against God, do we plan to sin more or do we seek a way out?
When you have a problem with someone, do you seek more trouble or do you seek a way out? What shall I do is a question we have to apply in everything that we do.
We have to ask “what shall I do to bring peace to my family? What shall I do, to go close to God and sin no more? Also, what shall I do to be a good person etc?
2. After the question, comes the action. Immediately, he fashioned out a way to solve his problem. This also tells us that whenever we ask some critical questions, we will always find the answers to them.
Where there is a question, there is always an answer. Whenever we sit down and reflect on how sinful we are, how we have neglected God and how we have to seek for the heavenly riches, then know that our time of liberation and breakthrough has come.
The Steward’s Shrewdness.
So, When the steward knew that he would be called to account, he knew his poor management would be exposed. He also knew that other options were unattractive to him (I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg).
What he did was call every one of his master’s debtors to him. He made friends with his master’s debtors by settling their accounts for less than they owed. Therefore the steward, knowing he would be called to account, used his present position to prepare himself for the next stage of his life.
1. The first point we have to derive here is not that what the steward did was morally right. But the point of emphasis here is that he uses what he has to get what he wants. He uses his position to save his future.
When we find ourselves in good positions, what do we do with them? When we find ourselves in a position of honour do we use them to create more enmity?
To let people know that you are in charge? Is it to bring more disunity? Sometimes we have to use what we have to get what we want that is good. We have to use our positions to make friends, create happiness among the people and endear ourselves to humanity. If you are a leader do not be a terror to the people you lead. Use your position to do the needful.
2. The master commended the unjust steward, not because of His dishonesty but because he had dealt shrewdly: While not approving of his conduct, the master did approve of the steward’s shrewdness. Jesus then added that the men of the world are more wise, bold, and more forward-thinking in the management of what they had (more shrewd) than the people of God were with managing what they had (the sons of light).
In essence, the children of the world know how to work their way out. They know how to meander their way and get what they want than children of light.
In essence, Jesus wants the children of light to wake up from slumber. Let us also learn how to work our way to eternity. Let us seek a way to gain heavenly riches. If the astuteness that we put into gaining earthly riches is put into heavenly riches, everywhere will be better. If we do this, our relationship with God. We will tread with caution.
1. In the gospel, Jesus says that the master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. The children of this world are more astute in dealing with their kind than are the children of light.
Like I said above, Jesus is not in any way condoning dishonesty. He is not saying that what the steward did was good or that what his master did was okay. But Jesus is asking us to use that same energy we use doing evil to also do good. He is asking us to use the same astuteness that we use in seeking earthly riches to gain the highest riches.
2. The steward knew that he would be called, to give an account of his stewardship and he was asking what he shall do. He took it very seriously.
In essence, he shall want Christians to know that one day they too will be called to give account and they need to take it very seriously too. We have also to seek it, and ask what we shall do to gain the highest riches. We have also to use our present positions to gain eternal life for our souls and not lead our souls to damnation.
Therefore, If we pursue the Kingdom of God with the same vigour and zeal that the children of this world pursue worldly profits and pleasure, we would live in an entirely different world.
If we can also work hard, the way we work hard to achieve earthly riches, we shall have heavenly riches. One precious thing that we have but often neglect is heavenly riches, peace, joy, everlasting life, purity etc. If we can also work very hard to keep and seek for them, we shall surely gain them. This is what Jesus is trying to let us know.
3. Jesus also says that his listeners should use money, tainted as it is, to win friends, and make sure that when it fails them, they will welcome them into the tents of eternity.
The steward uses his master’s money to gain earthly friends. In the same, we shall use our money and resources to promote the gospel and gain friends for eternity.
The wealth we accumulate in this world is temporary but the highest riches are everlasting. So, as Jesus says in Matthew 6:20, we have to lay up our treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy and where thieves cannot break in and steal.
4. In essence, we have to treasure the Lord Jesus Christ as most of all things we need in life. When Jesus becomes our treasure, we shall commit our lives, time and resources for the sake of him. We shall commit our money, time, talents, and gifts, to the work of God. We have to live our entire lives touching souls.
Paul says that “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23–24).
When we live sacrificially for Jesus’ sake or serve Him by serving the body of Christ, we store up treasure in heaven. Even seemingly small acts of service do not go unnoticed by God. Jesus says “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).
When We listen to the Voice of the Needy
In James 1:27, the bible stipulates that the religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’Jesus certifies in this chapter, that how we treat the poor and the needy will be one of the criteria to gain heavenly riches. In the first reading, God vows that He will never forget any deed done to the poor.
So, through His prophet Amos, He warned those who trample on the needy and try to suppress the poor people He says that never will He forgets a single thing we have done.’ Therefore, the best way to gain heavenly riches is to be solace for those who are in need.
I. It doesn’t matter the little that we have. No matter how little we have, we have to use it to save lives. That zeal that we use in seeking our pleasure, let us also use it in saving lives. Let us seek the highest riches.
Jesus says that the man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?
Therefore, if we cannot use the resources that we have to work for the salvation of souls, how can we also be trusted with the highest riches which is eternity?
When Jesus talks of the least of things and genuine riches, it means that despite the money that we have, it is one of the least and cannot lead us to genuine riches. Genuine riches are in God. We have to seek these riches with all our hearts. So, Faithfulness in the little things shows how one will be faithful in the large things.
2. We have to focus our hearts on God. We cannot focus on God at the same time on Money. So, We cannot focus on our earthly resources and at the same focus on the highest riches which is everlasting life. This is why Jesus says that one cannot serve two masters at a time. Therefore, Having two masters is not like working two jobs. A slave can’t belong to two masters at the same time. It is impossible.
One can have both money and God, but one cannot serve both money
and God. This is why many people can be shrewd and skilled in accumulating earthly riches, deceiving people to get what they want, and they will not try an inch to go close to God or seek the highest riches which is our relationship with God. Yet we say we love God. If we truly love God we have to seek God first.
3. Therefore, in using what you have to get what you want, we have to remember that what we want in life is not only the ephemeral things of this world. The most important thing that we need in life is the salvation of our souls. We have to use what we have; our time, money, resources, knowledge, position etc to seek this.
One day our lives will end and all the things that we fight to acquire in this world will all vanish. Let us not forget that we also need the highest gift which is God and the salvation of souls.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to seek Him with all our hearts.