Scripture Reference: Luke 16 verses 1-13
The basic point is this: Christ is saying, with dry humour, if only the Christian was as eager and ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as the men of the world are in their attempts to attain money and comfort.
In other words, Jesus wants us to act with the same intensity in our discipleship toward him as the rascals, cheats, and crooks act in their attempt to gain comfort and wealth.
There was once a wealthy Highland landowner. He was more than richly endowed with this world’s goods and had a stately mansion overlooking a beautiful glen. He was a hard-headed businessman, and had a tendency to cut corners to achieve his ends – even if that included trampling over other people. In his life, he was number ONE, and everybody else, including his tenants and employees came far down his list of priorities.
But there was a basic emptiness in his life. He had no religious belief, he lived alone, possessed by his possessions and his desire to get wealthier and wealthier
In the gate house at the entrance to his estate lived John his farm manager. John was a man of simple faith and deep religious commitment. With his family he was a regular churchgoer, and often in the evening when John opened the gate to admit the laird, his employer habitually would see out of the corner of his eye noticed John’s family on their knees in prayer. This sight never ceased to amuse him.
One morning the laird was looking out on the valley resplendent in the rising sun. As he gazed on the beautiful scene he was saying to himself, ‘It is all mine’ when he heard the doorbell ringing. Going down he found John on the doorstep. ‘What’s the matter John?’ he asked, ‘are the horses all right?’
John looked embarrassed. ‘Aye sir,’ he replied. ‘Sir, could I have a word with you?’ He was invited in on to plush carpet, a striking contrast between their life-styles.
‘Sir,’ said John hesitantly, ‘last night I had a dream, and in it the Lord told me that the richest man in the glen would die tonight at midnight. I felt I should tell you. I just had to come to you, sir, as I felt you should know’.
The laird dismissed him, but John’s words kept bothering him, so much so that he took out his car and went to the local doctor for a complete check-up. The GP examined him, pronounced him fit as a fiddle and said he would give him another twenty years.
The laird was relived but a lingering doubt caused him to invite the doctor around for dinner and a few drinks that evening. They enjoyed a sumptuous meal together and shortly after 11.30 the doctor got up to leave but the laird prevailed on him to remain on for a few nightcaps.
Eventually when midnight passed and he was still in the land of the living he saw the doctor to the door and then went up the stairs muttering, ‘Stupid old John…upset my whole day… him and his blasted dreams!’
No sooner was he in bed when he heard the doorbell ringing. It was half past midnight.
Going down he found a grief-stricken girl at the door whom he recognised instantly as John’s teenage daughter.
‘Sir,’ she said, looking at him through her tears, ‘Ma sent me to tell you that Dad died at midnight.’
The laird froze as it was suddenly made clear to him who was the richest man in the valley.