Parable of the Manager…
I have always heard the interpretation of this story as one where the manager does act dishonestly, but is commended for quick thinking and action in the face of a crisis. There seems to be a call for the commended act – to be imitated.
Problem with that is if this manager does act dishonestly, it actually doesn’t make sense that he would have hope for future employment from those who benefitted from his dishonesty since they would have all the reason to suppose that he would cheat them as well. It would seem unlikely that this story would be told as an example of those who act dishonestly to have anything to do with the Kingdom of God. In fact, the manager does everything contrary to Jesus’ teachings as the manager clearly is thinking only of himself when he should have been setting aside his own self-interest, which is this case was set up as self-preservation (with no repentance).
It is safe to say that there was a relationship problem between the manager and his employer. There might even be a note of laziness as we see the manager resolving his crisis – possible that the manager has not obtained sufficient return and for that has lost his job. With that attitude moving forward, why not further the losses and then hope to find favour with the customers so as to win favour for employment once his termination is effective – turning his inefficiency into an imagery of being a Robin Hood.
“There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, “Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, “And how much do you owe?’ He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, “Take your bill and make it eighty.’ And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. – Luke 16:1-8