The subject is wealth—wasted by the prodigal son and now, pursued by any means by the Unjust Steward.
Jesus dealt with the world the way it was—wracked with the wickedness of some and blessed by the benevolence of others. In the Parable of the Unjust Steward, the wicked ways of the world are explored. We must be sure to see that Jesus does not commend the wicked shrewdness of the steward. The “lord” in this parable is a worldly businessman, not a man of God.
The Unjust Steward
The man was a crook. He was caught red-handed cooking the books of his master’s business. He had grown rich in this under-the-table double dealing but it all came crashing down. He was fired but first he had to settle the accounts. It is said he was shrewd so he came up with a scheme to provide good wishes in the future so he could continue to enjoy his ill-gotten gains.
He still had his master’s books so he started calling on those who owed his master money and valuable goods. It is thought by some commenters that he used his own money in this scheme. He altered the books to lessen the debt owed by the creditor, perhaps making up the difference out of his own pocket. He was hoping to benefit the creditors now so they could benefit him later on. It was a clever scheme.
Except the master found out about it.
Now this “lord’ was a crooked as his steward. We can only imagine that much of his wealth was gained by nefarious means also. So the steward was caught a second time but this time the master had to admire the shrewdness of the scheme so he actually commended him.
The Sons of Light
At this point in the parable Jesus injected a comment.
“For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”
Far from commending dishonesty in business dealings, Jesus condemned these methods as worldly and based in darkness, not light. As children of the Light, we must never be dishonest in the first place. We can then use our cleverness to do great things rather than to get out of trouble. As “Children of the Light,” we, too should be clever and inventive but we must do so in the cause of righteousness, not evil.
The Divided Heart
In this strange story, Jesus calls us, at last, to righteous servanthood. He makes it plain that we cannot have life both ways. We cannot serve God and riches, too!
“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.”
The divided heart will always bleed trouble, one scheme upon another, until we are exposed for what we really are—an unjust steward.
Justice will be served.
We are all stewards of this life. Whether we follow Jesus or not, we will find ourselves carrying responsibilities for others. In these things we can deal honestly or dishonestly but we must recognize that either path will yield a harvest—trouble and more trouble or blessing and more blessing. How wise to have a heart undivided, with its methods and means in perfect unison. How wise to be a child of Light!
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. 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.’ “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.’ “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.’ 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. “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 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. 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? “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.”
Lord Jesus, You took the punishment for my sins! Now I stand before the Father as if I had never sinned—how amazing is Your grace! Lord, give me an undivided heart. May I never be tempted by the love of money for that is a cruel master. I want to serve You with gladness and singleness of heart. Save me from the wicked ways of this world and help me be clever in righteousness! For Your glory, Lord! Amen.
I’d Rather Have Jesus
Words: Rhea F. Miller; Music: George Beverly Shea
1. I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway.
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
2. I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame.
I’d rather be true to His holy name
3. He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs.
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.