The Shrewd but Wise Steward

Luke Chapter 16 had always been hard for me to understand until this morning. It seemed as if this was a story of a man guilty of mishandling the land of his master who got out of it by committing more unjust actions. However, I now understand the importance of this parable:

1) Understand the nature of God
2) Place your trust in His nature more than that of earthly things, including money.

He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. (Luke 16:1 NKJV)

The steward was wasting the wealth of the owner. The owner finds out because because someone tells him. The owner calls the steward to let him know he can no longer be a steward of his land. However, it appears that the steward wasn’t fired immediately because he begins to ponder his future and the choices he should make.

“Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ (Luke 16:3, 4 NKJV)

The first thing that happens is that the steward becomes afraid: his fate is in someone else’s hands. He knows that he is going to be fired and he ultimately would like a place to stay when it happens. Instead of begging, the steward comes up with a plan.

“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ (Luke 16:5-7 NKJV)

With what little time the steward has left, he calls his master’s debtors and offers them a deal: pay up now and we will discount the total amount you originally owed. The debtors believe that this is the kindness of their master discounting the outstanding balance. Because the steward placed his trust in the grace of the master, the debtors were grateful for the master’s mercy and the master was pleased.

So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. (Luke 16:8 NKJV)

The next point that Jesus makes is stunning. If we cannot be trusted to be responsible with earthly money, how can we be trusted with heavenly riches? In fact, we need to treat others with respect and deal honorably with money. For we will fail, and when we do, who will be there to receive us?

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? (Luke 16:9, 11, 12 NKJV)

From this parable, I pray that we put our faith in the grace and mercy of God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. Ultimately, it is our own understanding that we have failed and where we spend everlasting life is in their hands that leads us to seeking their favor. May we know that God is gracious so that we may put our trust in Him above any other earthly power. Amen.

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