In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is “on the road” to Jerusalem. Every stop is like reaching a crossroad with a signpost saying, “Jerusalem this way.” The stop then becomes an occasion for teaching his followers. This message (Luke 16:1-13) is a parable about the dishonest manager who steals from his boss. Briefly, the manager quite likely has been skimming from his boss, who finds out about it, and is going to fire the manager.
The manager tries to figure out what to do. Suddenly, he decides to call in his boss’ debtors and remove his commission from their debt. This way, he would have grateful debtors who will undoubtedly do him a favor some day–now that he is being fired. But a curious thing happened. The boss, in addition to firing the manager, praised him for the prudence he took in preparing for his departure. What is going on here? Why praise for “prudence” instead of justifying the firing?
For an explanation we look at the three applications that follow the parable. These applications take the form of contrasts. The first contrast is between the “children of the world” and the “children of light.” The “children of light” are obviously followers of Christ. They have to be prudent in the use of material possessions.