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“What Opportunity Would You Have Me Seize?”

At a recent football game, one team was yards away from scoring when the other team intercepted the ball and ended up winning the game by one touchdown.  Football teams aren’t the only ones to squander their chances; we do it, too.

In Jesus’ parable in Luke 16:1-13, the Master—the CEO—has heard that a certain manager has been squandering his master’s property.  It’s as if the pink slip is filled out and waiting in the middle desk drawer, but first the CEO asks the manager for a self-audit.  Today, he would have asked for the manager’s laptop and shown him the door, but this is not a lesson in wise business practices.   It’s more about what we do with the opportunities that rise before us.

The almost-former-manager is at a critical juncture.

We face crises, too, and sometimes our responses are not very creative.  We rely on instinct and get angry, or yell, or feel paralyzed, or deny there is a crisis.

At this intersection, the manager examines potential roads until his brain settles on a good one.  Since his debts have been discovered, he creates a plan of action that will make others indebted to him.  Before that pink slip is in hand, he reduces the debt of one vendor to 50% of his total bill and of another vendor to 80% of his total.  It’s an ingenious response, because everybody wins something.  The master gets parts of his bills paid; the olive oil and wheat vendors get a discount; and the crafty manager, though jobless, has two new friends who are now indebted to him!

At first, we think this is the twist in Jesus’ parable, but instead, Alan Culpepper notes that, “The master praises the [manager] for his foresighted, shrewd action…. [His action] casts an aura of honesty and goodness on his master [but also] shrewdly provides for his own future…. Jesus admonishes his hearers to cast caution aside, seize the moment of opportunity, and make provision for their future before God.  The kingdom is at hand” (New Interpreter’s Bible Vol. IX, Abingdon Press c. 1995, p 309).

This text asks us, “How are you doing with your Master’s resources?”  If we are squandering our Master’s resources, we can seize the Master’s opportunity by going in two directions:  deeper and farther.  When we first send our roots deeper into relationship with God, spending time with God as our sole focus, we will gain the breadth and strength to stretch our branches farther to connect with and embrace others.  Partners are waiting for us—among those who seek to minister and among those who need our ministry.

As a green first-year student at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, I appreciated a younger, smarter peer arranging for a student conversation with a well respected professor.  While I can’t remember the words Dr. Hinson spoke that evening, the wind of the Holy Spirit was blowing in that living room.  The winds of freedom blew through and collapsed the mental shackles that had kept me bound to the God and Jesus I had met in children’s Sunday school, but never questioned enough for my faith and understanding to grow.

The sharing of this good news was made possible because my peer seized an opportunity, not selfishly for a one-on-one conversation, but for the community, and the reward was mine.  I was invited to delve deeper into my relationship with God, and that made me want to stretch farther to share the good news with more people.

God seeks to be connected with us through Jesus, and constantly beckons us to connect with and help each other.  Ask the Holy Spirit:  “What opportunity would you have me seize?”

Donna Hopkins Britt is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Downtown West:  608 Campbell Avenue, SW, Roanoke; web site, calvaryroanoke.org.

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