Did you hear what our Scripture readings told us today? The first one, that from the Book of the prophet Amos says that if you are a crook you will be punished. The third one from the Gospel of Luke can be understood to say if you are a crook be clever about it, and the "master", God, will praise you for looking out for yourself so well. The second reading from the first letter of Paul to Timothy says that we are to pray for everyone, kings, others in power and even pagans. Without question the message in 1Timothy is true. God does want us to pray for everyone, good and bad. But if the first reading is valid, that is, if you are a crook, you will be punished but that must mean that our understanding of the Gospel message, that if you are a clever crook then you will be praised by the "master", can't be true.
Looking at the message in the Book of the prophet Amos, it seems logical that if you cheat, charge extravagant prices, use dishonest scales and charge for contaminated items such as grain with dirt in it and make people your slaves, even though you are of the right nationality, an ancestor of Jacob or the right religion, Christianity you will be punished. We know from history that Amos' prophesy came true, Israel was captured, the people sent into exile and essentially worked as slaves themselves.
Now looking at the message in Luke's Gospel. We are never told why the manager was going to be fired but it is clear that he did something after he was told that he was going to lose his job which appears to be stealing from the master, but was it really? Likely not because of the way the price for items was charged in that culture included that which was owed to the master in addition to a "commission" for the manager. What the manager was likely doing was cutting his commission in order to make a friend who will come to his aid after he was fired.
So Jesus' message to us is be clever in the use of your possessions like good business people are. It is always tempting to cleverly use our possessions, our time, talent and treasures to gain more possessions and that isn't wrong, but that isn't to be our primary goal. Our primary goal is to live in a way which pleases God. It very nice to gain more but as the last lines in our Gospel reading says: "You cannot serve two masters. You will like one, more that than the other or be more loyal to one that to the other. You cannot serve God and money." In other words: we are on the right road only if as our primary goal we use our earthly wealth; time, talent and treasure to attain our heavenly goal, the everlasting reward of being with God and the saints forever.
ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT ROAD? AM I ON THE RIGHT ROAD?, THAT IS: ARE WE ACCEPTING GOD'S FREE GIFT OF SALVATION BY THE WAY WE USE OUR TIME, TALENT AND TREASURE?