The "Wise" Manager
​​This is, without a doubt, the most enigmatic of Jesus' parables. The main character is on his way out, and in the waning moments of his employment, he rips off his employer by lowering the balances on all of his employer's debtors! And then, as we are reeling from the incongruity of it all, the employer commends his dishonest employee!!

It certainly isn't easy to make sense of this parable. But if we understand some of Jesus' other parables, it can begin to come into focus. The main characters in Jesus' parables are usually us. And the employer is usually God. (see also the Tenants , the Talents and the Laborers ). 

And just like the parable of the Tenants , the employer has debtors who owe large sums of their harvest to him. (see also the Unmerciful Servant and the Fig Tree ).

But we also find that we are all God's representatives to each other (see also the Tenants , the Unmerciful Servant , the Sheep and the Goats , and this teaching ). Those we encounter are God's representatives to us, and God requires that we deliver a harvest of heavenly fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) to Him through them. But the opposite is also true: God requires them to deliver a harvest of heavenly fruit to Him through us.

Luke 16:1 (ESV) Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted [wisely]. (the word often translated "shrewdly" is the same word translated "wise" in this parable )


Naturally, God is requiring that we treat others well; and simultaneously requiring that others treat us well. But if we were to lower the standard of how we expect to be treated (i.e., treating them with patience, mercy and grace) we could be reducing the debt that others deliver to God through us -- in exactly the fashion of the shrewd manager in the parable! 

Perhaps that's the key to this parable: we gain God's commendation when we do not require
God's remarkably high standard of behavior from those we encounter...​