Shrewd Manager Part 1 of 2

Q. How can Jesus use the unrighteous steward in Lk 16 as a model for us to follow? He squandered his master’s resources and reduced the repayment required from debtors. How can he be an example?

A. That’s a good question. Some commentators argue that a parable has one main point and we need not dwell on the peripherals of the story. They suggest that Jesus was teaching His disciples to make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness. He was not commending the steward for his dishonesty, but for his shrewdness. The rest of the story does not matter.

I disagree, based on Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the Sower, His basic parable (Mk 4:13). Each element there – the sower, the seeds, the soils, the birds – means something. I am not suggesting that you spiritualize things to force meaning into each and every little detail in all parables, but usually we misinterpret the parables because we do not do enough homework to understand the culture and customs of those times.

Let’s work through the issues. First, the rich man or master. If he represent God, how can he praise his manager? This puzzled many Christians. My opinion is that the master here plays the same role as the unrighteous judge in Lk 18:1-8, as a contrast rather than a comparison to God. There, if the unrighteous judge is willing to give the widow legal protection because of her continual petition, how much more is God willing to answer the prayers of those who kept coming to Him. Here, if the master praises the manager because he acted shrewdly, how much more will God commend the sons of light if we are more shrewd in using wealth to accomplish eternal purposes.

Second, the matter of interest. Israelites were not allowed to charge interest when they lend to fellow Jews, only to foreigners:
Ex 22:25 If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest.
• Deut 23:19-20 You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

However, to circumvent this restriction cunning creditors devised two schemes:

(To be continued)

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Weird Logic?

head covering 1

Q. Isn’t Paul illogical when he argued that women should have their head covered while men shouldn’t? As Christ is the head of everyman, and the man is the head of a woman (v 3), why is it that every man who has his head covered while praying or prophesying disgraces his head (v 4), but every woman who has her head uncovered while doing the same thing disgraces her head (v 5)? This is especially so since man is the glory of God, and woman is the glory of man (v 7). It doesn’t make sense!

A. I have touched on the subject before in https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/head-coverings/
On the surface it does look strange, as:

1 Co 11:3
Christ is the head of man
Man is the head of woman

1 Co 11:7
Man is the glory of God
Woman is the glory of man

There is symmetrical parallel. So why should there be a discontinuity requiring a woman to cover her head while praying or prophesying but not for a man?

There is a discontinuity for two reasons. The first is that Paul was contrasting man and woman, rather than comparing their similarities:
• Origin: man does not originate from woman, but woman from man (v 8);
• Purpose: man was not created for woman’s sake, but woman for man’s sake (v 9). So there is no need to assume everything to be similar.

The second is the meaning of the covering, as a symbol of authority on the head (v 10). God made man first, then woman as his helper suitable for him (Gen 2:18). Though both are equal before God in terms of their essence, man was given the role of “head” and woman wear long hair/covering as a symbol of authority over her.

Then why doesn’t man wear long hair or covering, as Christ is his head? For two reasons:
• Man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God (v 7), and God is invisible (Col 1:15). A visual symbol is not necessary.
• Nature itself teach that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him (v 14).

While the logic may appear baffling to contemporary thinking, it is consistent with the rabbinic style of argument.