Inner peace is not a milestone that is crossed off. You arrive at inner peace for a moment, only to one day realize the destination has moved. Inner peace is a mindset. It is the result of a way of thinking and a way of believing. It also manifests from our choices. Then, after a lot of thought and life management that gives you peace, you let your guard down or forget a couple guiding principles, and it’s gone.
To maintain inner peace, we must continually remind ourselves certain truths about ourselves, about others, and most importantly about the nature of God. We must take up the daily grind of living according to our values without compromise.
One thing is certain:
If you want inner peace, you MUST get comfortable with the idea of a very gracious God. Lose sight of that, and genuine inner peace will likely be elusive. How can you be at peace if God is not ultimately FOR you?
There is a really weird parable that Jesus tells. I ignored it for years because I didn’t understand it. I didn’t like it. It sounds wrong. It seems like somehow it was accidentally added to the gospels. Now I think I get it. Now it’s one of my favorites and I think about it all the time. This parable strengthens my inner peace immensely!
Keep in mind that this is a parable. This is a story that Jesus makes up to illustrate a spiritual truth. It’s a sort of verbal treasure hunt. You’ll find gems if you’re up for putting in a little work. It first requires faith that there’s something worth finding.
Here’s the parable, then some explanation. If you can hang with me, I think this will strengthen your inner peace!
1Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2So 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.’
There was a really rich guy who hired a guy to manage his estate; very common. This manager mishandled things and was found to be untrustworthy. Essential to the understanding of this story is the unusual response of the owner. This owner reacts to incompetence, or even deceit (which you’ll see is a go-to part of this manager’s character), differently than would have been typical. This owner simply has the manager hand over the books and sent him on his way. He doesn’t prosecute. He does not physically harm the man. There’s no trial of any kind. In the ancient world, where the rich ran things their way, anyone rich enough to have a manager would have surely ruined someone who jeopardized their wealth. Not this owner! This is a crucial part of understanding the story and certainly would have immediately stood out to the earliest audiences.
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— 4I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6“ ‘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.’ 8“ The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.
What are you talking about, Jesus? The manager, who had already been fired, continued to fake authority and attempted to gain appreciation from his former employer’s debtors by cutting their debts by a huge percentage. How could Jesus possibly allow the God-character of the story, the owner, to commend this kind of behavior?
Remember, this is a parable, so we’ll have to do some digging… you gotta mine for the gems!
Here’s how Jesus finishes the parable… then we’ll try to make some sense of it.
8…For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.
Let’s figure this out. Here we go:
1. We know, from the reaction of the owner to the shady and incompetent behavior of the manager, that this owner is uncommonly gracious. That’s key to the story.
2. It seems the manager has a shrewd thought which gives him the upper hand on the owner: “I will double down on the gracious nature of my former boss!” He moves on the idea quickly. He goes to people in debt and creates the appearance of an extraordinary act of generosity from his master, their lender. He cancels huge amounts of debt. There’s partying in the streets! This owner is now the most beloved man in the city!
The owner now has a choice. He can tell his debtors, “Nope! Sorry. I fired him last week. He had no authority to make that move.” The owner would become the bad guy. The town would then see the owner as stingy. The party is over because Mr. Money Bags rained on the generosity parade with justice. The other choice is to say nothing and maintain your generous reputation.
This shrewd unethical property manager seems to bet that the generosity and gracious nature of his ex-boss will trump any desire for justice. Do you see how this guy took advantage of the gracious nature of his former boss? On his darkest day, he knew there was only one thing he could count on in the world- the Owner’s gracious nature!
3. Get this! Because the manager doubled down on generosity and grace, he created a win-win for himself! The owner was forced to not announce that he fired his manager (did the scheme actually save his job?), and the people of the city loved the manager for bringing the good news. The entire plan hinged on trusting the generosity of the owner!
4. The moral of the story: When the chips are down, DOUBLE DOWN on the grace of the Owner! When all is lost and you think you’ve ruined everything, double down on the grace of God!
5. Verse 8 seems to say, “Hey ‘people of God’! Even people like this ungodly manager would know that someone who loves grace will be governed by it! Learn to trust the gracious nature of the Owner!”
I love it! Jesus says, “Even a pagan can figure out that when a person is gracious, you can use it to your advantage!” Translation: You can count on the grace of God, even in your darkest moment!
I know a lot of people who struggle with whether or not God is for them. Many Christians who have lived their entire lives connected with a church continually second-guess their standing with God. You will not find inner peace until you understand God’s grace the way Jesus presented it.
This parable is the key to unlock such inner peace. The Owner is generous! Bank on it! Rely on it! Run with it! When the chips are down and you’ve lost EVERYTHING, bank on the generosity and mercy of God! Never put yourself past the mercy of the Almighty! God is FOR you! The last word has not been spoken about your life and legacy!
Two verses from Romans 8, worth memorizing:
1“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
37…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Want inner peace? Double down on the grace and love of the Owner.