Summary: This man was dishonest, but he was still commended for his shrewd investing and wise prudence in preparing for the future. Link included to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint Template.
Parable of the Unjust Steward
Ever made the “march in” at your work? You know, where you get up your nerve and march in and quit? What a feeling when you first walk out—“I’m free!” No longer the slave of that man or this place. And then what is the feeling which grabs your heart immediately after that feeling? That’s right…what am I going to do now?! Did I think this thru? What’s the plan?
At the beginning of Luke 16, we find that Jesus now turns to his disciples...
The parable of "The Unjust Steward" is considered by many to be difficult...
a. It has caused much perplexity
b. It has made some wonder if Jesus was commending the unjust steward for dishonesty
...but the main point of the parable should be clear enough when we consider it carefully.
A. A WASTEFUL STEWARD - Lk 16:1-2
1. A rich man hears that his steward was wasting his goods
2. The steward is told to give an account of his stewardship and then be relieved
B. A SHREWD STEWARD - Lk 16:3-8a
1. The steward reasons within himself concerning his dilemma:
a. "What can I do?"
b. "I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg"
2. He determines to so act as to ensure that others will receive him into their homes
a. He calls for his master’s debtors
b. He has them change their bills to reflect smaller debts
1) This cheats his master even more
2) But ingratiates him to his master’s debtors by lowering their debts
c. It may be the steward simply removed what interest had incurred with the debts
1) Though usury was forbidden by the Law (Ex 22:25; Deut
23:19), this prohibition was often circumvented
2) It was common at that time for a rich man to have his steward do it, and then deny knowledge of it if came to light (i.e., "plausible deniability")
3) If it was only interest being removed, what the steward did not only pleased the debtors, but the master couldn’t publicly object
-- cf. The Parables Of Jesus, Simon Kistemaker, p. 228-229
3. The unjust steward is commended by his master for his shrewdness
a. Not that the master approved of the action per se [and not that Jesus did…notice the small lowercase ‘l’ in lord
b. But he could not deny that the steward was shrewd enough to know how to use what he had to his best advantage
He used what was at his disposal to plan for the future! That is the point Jesus is making, as we go on to see...
THE PARABLE APPLIED
A. JESUS’ COMMENT CONCERNING WISDOM - Lk 16:8b
1. "this generation … wiser than the children of light."
2. Jesus’ observation is that:
a. People of the world are generally very resourceful with things of this world
b. Such is not always the case with the people of God
B. JESUS’ APPLICATION OF THE PARABLE - Lk 16:9
1. This verse is difficult, but let’s begin with explanations for some of the terms:
a. "unrighteous mammon"
1) The word "mammon" is the Aramaic word for "riches"
2) It may be called "unrighteous" because it is often used for evil purposes, or because it is uncertain, undependable - cf. 1 Ti 6:17
b. "when it fails"
1) When your riches fail
2) Or when you fail due to lack of riches
c. "they may receive you"
The only friends who can receive us into heaven are the Father and the Son. These are, then, the friends we must secure. During life our means must be so used as to please God and to lay up eternal treasure. If we use it as a trust of the Lord we will secure such a friend. Instead of hoarding we must make heavenly friends." (B. W. Johnson)
Worldly possessions are the Christian’s stewardship. If he has been wasting them in self-indulgence, he must take warning from the parable and so employ them in deeds of usefulness and mercy that, when the stewardship is taken from him, he may have obtained for himself a refuge for the future.
3. The main point of the parable, in either case, is make proper use of material riches...
a. Use them with a view to eternity!
b. Be aware of the danger of riches!
4. This is made clearer as we go on to consider...
C. JESUS’ ADMONITION TO FAITHFULNESS - Lk 16:10-12
1. He starts by stating two maxims - cf. Lk 16:10
a. "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much"
b. "He who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much"
2. He then applies it to the matter of "mammon" - Lk 16:11