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The Parable of The Unjust Steward Made Simple

(Luke 16:1-13)

The parable in Luke 16:1-13 says:

1 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. 2 So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’

3 “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. 4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 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.’ 8 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. 

9 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

We see here that this steward was petrified when his master found out that he wasn’t doing his job well. He was lazy and not very good at managing his master’s account. He didn’t care about collecting bills for the master and he was losing money hand over fist for him. But when he was about to lose his job, he said to himself, “I can’t go and dig roads. I can’t do manual labor. Hard labor will kill me and I’m too ashamed to beg.”

Someone who is jobless does not have a sense of security due to lack of employment benefits. In those days, if you couldn’t do the hard manual labor required on the farms, things were tough for you. This steward might have been overweight, fat and unfit. If that was the case, then he couldn’t do work and he’d have to beg. And he knew that begging takes a lot of humility. For this reason, this man had devised a plan in case he’d be put out of stewardship.

We read in verses 4 to 8 what he did. He basically went to all the people who owed his master money, gave them big discounts of the bill and collected all of this money. He didn’t do it to get his job back because he was ripping his master off. He did it so that everyone that he discounted for would give him work when he would be unemployed. He was thinking that when he would become poor, had no food to eat, if he would need a job, all the people that he gave fifty-thousand-dollar-discounts to would give him food, receive him in the house and show him mercy.

Here’s a guy who was just plain lazy. He has been living off his master’s income and has been very unwise at administering his master’s funds. Like some of the government workers who waste the people’s money, this manager was just a waste of space. He was terrible and didn’t care about his master’s business.

But when the time came that he was about to lose his job, he realized that he couldn’t dig nor beg. He didn’t have the humility to appear desperate. He knew he was in a bad position, so he became cunning and “wise” with money. When he gave huge discounts to the people who owed his master money, they jumped at the opportunity to pay off half the bill. Who wouldn’t?

At that time, the guy was still in the employ of the master, so his statement of account that the bills had been settled was legal tender. The master couldn’t come back and say, “My steward was unfaithful. Pay me the rest.” It was legal. The manager was still exercising authority. So he did that in order to build up friendship with those people who owed the master. Maybe one of them had an easy job for him in the future. So in his actions he was building up protection for himself.

Verse 9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.”

Jesus said here that money can be used for an eternal home. He was taking the example of this unjust steward to be applied to His kingdom. He hinted on using the money of the unrighteous mammon on earth to build up a foundation and a security in the kingdom of heaven.

Paul talks to Timothy about a similar thing.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 says:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

This was the Apostle Paul speaking to Timothy through the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is a message for all of us too. Paul was referring to the rich people. If you’re in the West, even if you’re on a social security pension, you’re richer than 90% of the people in the world. Paul was saying, “Don’t be proud. Don’t be haughty nor trust in your wealth or in your job, but trust in God and share your money.”

Verse 18 suggests that we should be ready to give and be willing to share our resources all the time. By doing so, we will store up for ourselves a good foundation for the time to come.

So, this is how money should be treated in the kingdom of God. Christians should store up treasure for themselves; and be willing to share, give, and do good works.

Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”

Jesus was saying here that money is the least thing in the world. There are a lot harder things in the Christian faith than tithing and giving money to God.

If you have a problem with tithing, Jesus said that’s just the least and easiest thing to do. There are lot harder things, like dealing with persecution and bearing with someone who’s really hard to deal with or forgiving someone who has maligned your name or attacked you. In the kingdom of God, there is a whole lot of more difficult stuff than giving or tithing. Jesus says one of the easiest things to do is to give. You’ve just got to get your attitude right with God and Jesus said, “Use your money and give.” Therefore, if you have not been faithful in money, in unrighteous mammon it says who will commit to you the trust of true riches. Jesus says, “I can’t trust people who can’t be trusted with money.”

Verses 12 and 13 continue:

And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? 13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

This man used his master’s money to serve himself and build up riches for his own. He was like us who are given jobs and income, yet do not share with the poor or tithe to God but waste it on ourselves. We need to see ourselves in this parable; when we do not give to God and His kingdom, we are like this unjust steward. Jesus wanted us all to know that money is important in this world and it has been given to us for good reason. We should administer our money right; and our master, Jesus, should get His share.

To sum this up, God is saying that you got to choose who you serve. Money is the least. You need to get over money and start giving your money to God and trust Him. If you’re not trusting God in the least of things, how can He bless you in the most?

I don’t mean to get on your case. But this is what God is saying here: money should be the least of your concerns. If you are generous with your wealth and give with open arms to the Lord more than 10% of your income, then the Lord is your master. If you are not generous in sharing with God’s kingdom, then money is your master. This parable is as simple as that to understand.

By no means do I wish to fill you with condemnation and guilt. It takes a lot of personal soul searching and faith to start giving especially when you have a small income like mine. But the joy of doing it far outweighs the pain, I can assure you.



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