The Unjust Steward

The Story (Luke 16:1-8a)

Once there was a steward whose job was to oversee the financial affairs of a wealthy man. But after a period of time someone reported that he was not doing a good job. When he was confronted, he could not deny the charges, so his master commanded him to give an account of what he had been doing. The steward began to worry. He knew that he had been unfaithful but didn’t know what to do after he lost his job. He wasn’t strong enough to work construction and he was too proud to become a beggar. He had to do something and there wasn’t much time.

He finally decided to do something that would help him in the future. He called in all of the people who owed his master money. The first man owed 100 baths of oil (868 gallons). The steward changed the bill to read that he only owed 50 baths of oil (434 gallons). The second man owed 100 cors of wheat (1,083 bushels). The manager changed his bill to read that the man owed only 80 cors of wheat (866 bushels).

You can imagine how happy these men were to owe less than they had. But what about the master? When he went to collect the oil and wheat owed to him, the men showed him their new bills. That’s when the master smiled. He was not happy to have been cheated out of his goods. But he did congratulate his former manager for doing something clever to get a new job in the short time he had been given.

The Lesson (8b-9)

Oftentimes, those who are unbelievers are wiser than believers. They know how to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. If they want a job, they do whatever it takes to get it. If they want more money, they can think of some clever way to get it. They know what it takes to get what they want. Jesus was not commending the manager for his crime, but for his clever planning. Unfortunately, some Christians act foolishly. Instead of investing their time wisely and planning out the way they will use their talents for the Lord, they waste their lives doing things that will not matter in the end.

Jesus encouraged his disciples to plan wisely as did the unjust steward. They were to use their possessions to befriend others. As they spent their time and resources on reaching the lost (Luke 15), they would be using them in a wise way. At the end of their lives, they would be greeted by those whose lives had been changed by their generosity.

The Application (10-13)

How faithful are we in the items entrusted to us by the Lord? Are we faithfully using what has been given us for God’s glory and others’ good? Or are we using our things for ourselves? It really doesn’t matter how much money we have. It doesn’t really matter where we live or (believe it or not) what brand of car we drive. But it does matter how we are using what God has given us. If we are using the Lord’s money to further his desires, he may entrust us with more with which we may serve him. But if we are unfaithful with what we have now, why would he want to give us more?