The Dishonest Steward
Reading: Luke 16:1-15
And he said also unto his disciples, “There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, ‘How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.’ Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, ‘How much owest thou unto my lord?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of oil.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ Then said he to another, ‘And how much owest thou?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and write fourscore.’ And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’” And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
The parable of the dishonest steward isn’t easy to understand, especially since there is praise for one who is apparently acting dishonestly.
There are several points that can help us understand this parable:
Jesus is not praising the steward’s dishonesty, but rather his sagacity. Some understand that the steward is actually taking away an extra charge from the original price that his master had demanded from his debtors , and then he would not be doing something illegal. Regardless, the Lord draws attention to this man’s sagacity in solving his dilemma.
This story confronts the Pharisee with their greed and idolatry towards money. What good is the money you have if you just want to accumulate it and do not know how to use it wisely? The Pharisees, who claimed to serve God, were slaves to their greed, and considered Jesus a fool for rejecting the riches of this world.
This parable talks about priorities. Jesus said that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. How can we understand this? For many people, money or recognition is the priority, and they use all the means at their disposal to reach that goal. However, as children of light living in this world, we say that our priority is the Kingdom of God, but our actions say clearly that our gaze is closer to earthly matters than to spiritual ones.
We are going to see in the following passages how Jesus continues speaking about priorities and idolatrous love of money.
MEDITATE: What priorities do our actions reveal?
Translation By: Emily Stader