Today’s Bible reading contains a parable of Jesus that is puzzling, perplexing and paradoxical.
It’s a story that presents a cast of characters that were all rascals. Yet Jesus uses it to teach a lesson to the righteous.
Take a minute to read Luke 16:1-13.
Under the Mosical law God commanded “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest” (Ex. 22:25.
Human nature, however, found ways to circumvent the spirit of the law. One way was for a rich man to appoint a manager, called a steward, over his business affairs. The manager was given full control over the master’s wealth. He could lend money as he saw fit and technically it wasn’t the master doing it.
One common practicing in lending grain was to make the agreement to repay more than what was borrowed. For instance, if someone borrowed 10 bushels of wheat, they agreed to repay 14 bushels. Another way to by pass the law against usury.
In the parable, the steward had been embezzling the master’s funds. He was a crook. And unfaithful in his stewardship. When he’s called to give account, he knows he’s caught. So, to make friends of his master’s debtors for the possible future employment, he reduces their debts.
When the master learns of this scheme, instead of being angry, he commends the steward for his shrewdness. Furthermore, Jesus says we can learn something from this unjust steward. “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”
Lessons Learned From the Shrewd Steward
Obviously, Jesus is not teaching that it’s right to steal. Or that the end justifies the means. Nor is He commending selfishness, dishonesty, or greed. But there are some lessons to be learned from the steward.
1. He was realistic.
He didn’t complain about his plight. He didn’t pretend there was no problem. Nor did be blame someone else. He accepted this situation and began looking for a solution.
That’s a good lesson for Christians. Denying our problems does no good. Blaming others doesn’t help. Griping and grumbling gets us nowhere. Our present distress, is a good example. It is what it is. As Dr. Phil, often advises, “Get real.”
2. He was resourceful.
The steward was fired, but he wasn’t floored. He was clever. Ingenious. And inventive. He actively and aggressive put a plan into action.
That’s a good lesson for spiritual leaders. Times, circumstances, and situation changes. To rely on old means and methods by saying, “That’s the way we always did it” won’t work.
Our current crisis that has temporarily suspended public meetings of worship and Bible classes, has caused pastors and preachers to be innovative with new methods to connect with members. To edify. To encourage. And to evangelize the community. Who knows? Maybe our present distress will result in future growth and improved approaches for ministry.
3. He was ambitious.
This steward was thinking in maximums. He called all of his master’s debtors in. He was thinking big. He thought, “I’m going to exploit this thing for all it’s worth.”
Children of light can learn from the sons of the world to think bigger. To be more ambitious. To hold higher aspirations. To set greater goals. Remember, God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).
4. He possessed foresight.
The steward was looking ahead. Thinking about his future. He didn’t want to be left out in the cold.
The sons of this world plan ahead. Good business leaders think a year, or two or five years into the future. Do we? Churches need shepherds with vision and insight to look beyond the present and make plans for the future.
Finally, when we peel this parable back like an onion, we see Jesus is reminding us of the importance of faithful stewardship, of serving our Master in heaven, and how we can use material prosperity for a spiritual end.
This parable reminds us all to be opportunistic. Be faithful in our stewardship. And be wholly devoted to God
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman