Read Luke 16
Focus on verse 10
Years ago I had a friend who owned a small company, small enough that most of the employees knew each other like family, yet large enough to be turning over upwards of a million dollars each year. I remember the day my friend informed me that he had discovered that one of his trusted employees in the accounting department had been fixing the records over a period of about ten years and had been embezzling funds out of the company over that period.
As is usually the case in events such as this, there were rarely large amounts of money taken in a lump sum, just a little here, and a little there, but when it was all added up it was a significant sum. It was devastating to my friend personally, because he had considered the embezzler a close friend. It was also devastating to the company, which never really recovered financially from that event.
In today’s reading Jesus tells a parable about a dishonest manager who upon hearing that he has been discovered tries to make as many friends as possible by cooking the books in the favor of some of his clients. (v. 1-9) Jesus then makes the observation that integrity is just as important in the little things as it is in the big ones.
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. (v. 10)
Popular culture would attempt to convince us that the little things are not as important. “A little half truth here or there, a few miles over the speed limit, the occasional peek at pornography – as long as it isn’t hurting anyone, what harm will it do?” Jesus answers that question. The harm it will do is to a person’s integrity. If one cannot be trusted with the little things, why would he or she be trusted with anything bigger?
It takes years to build a reputation of integrity, and that reputation can be destroyed almost instantly with one careless act. It took about six years, from 1967 to 1973, to construct he World Trade Towers of New York City. These same towers were turned into a pile of rubble in a matter of a few hours on September 11, 2001. Approximately three thousand civilians including many first responders lost their lives in that deliberate act of terrorism. The relative security and safety that most Americans felt prior to this event may take several generations to recover.
This principle applies across many levels of human experience. If a person is trustworthy in the little things of life, they earn the right to be trusted with more. When that trust is broken, it takes a long time to rebuild, and in many cases there are losses that cannot be recovered. Integrity may well be one of the most valuable things a person can possess.