Summary: In the Parable of the Shrewd Steward Jesus gives us three principles of wise stewardship.
The Stories That Jesus Told
Sermon # 6
“How Wise Are You In the Use of Money”
“Parable of the Shrewd Steward”
I hope that you know today, that you can trust God, but when it comes to the handling of money, how much can He trust you.
This morning as we continue our stewardship emphasis we are going to be looking at one of the most unusual parables ever told. Today’s parable talks about money, specifically the wise use of money.
In the parable before us today Jesus catches our attention by seemingly recommending the financial practices of a crook. A modern telling of this story would go something like this. “A middle-aged man is in trouble with his boss. He has helped himself to his employer funds one time too many and now he is facing the music. In fact, he has been told to clean out his desk. He is given a few days to clear up his accounts, but he knows that after that he is finished. The man is humiliated. He knew that at his age in life it would not be easy to find another job –particularly at the pay scale of his old job. He probably could keep going for a while on unemployment benefits, but what about after they ran out? He was facing financial disaster.
Then he hit upon an ingenious plan. He was in charge of collecting debts owed to his employer, he decided that he would call each of them in and offer them a deal. He told them that he would be leaving his present position to search out new opportunities. And in order to keep their good will he was offering them a deal that they just would not be able to refuse. If they paid their bills immediately, they could settle for 60 cents on the dollar. Of course he assured them with his fingers crossed that he had been authorized by his employer to make them this offer, and he hoped they would remember this act of good will when he came to their company to submit his resume. He used his boss’ money to buy the good will of his possible future employers.
Now did this man do wrong? This question brings us to problem of this morning’s text. Why did Jesus pick this man to be an example? The most common features of our Lord’s parables are their shock value. They surprise and startle and this parable certainly does that.
Jesus begins “The Parable Of The Shrewd Steward” in verse one, “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. (2) 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.”
The main character in this story was a “steward” which means he is an employee; he is responsible for using his master’s business and assets. Today we would call such a person a “financial manager.” As such he of course is to use that which has been entrusted to him to further his master’s interest and not his own. It would seem though that the temptation was too great for him for the accusation that he has “wasted” his master’s funds is the same word used to describe how the Prodigal son has “squandered” his wealth. This helps us to see that the servant is not just guilty of making some bad investments but that he had misappropriated the master’s funds to his own purposes and pleasures. Not surprisingly it is not too long until his master finds out about what he is doing. His master summons him and asked for an inventory of his goods and an audit of his books. In modern terms he was told, “Give me all your records and clean out your desk. Your fired!”
In New Testament times a man who was a steward for another, was entitled to use some of the master’s money to meet his and his family’s expenses, but his priority was always to be furthering the master’s purposes. So the question for us today is, “After my family’s needs are met, what do I usually do with most of the extra? Do I look primarily to satisfy, my own desires for more and more? What percentage of the remainder is used to further God’s purposes?”
Does it come as a shock to you that you are a steward and as a steward you don’t own anything. You may possess many things but you do not own them. God does!!
The man in the parable was in trouble because “he forgotten that stewardship involves not only responsibility and privilege but it also involves account-ability….. Christians have a tendency to forget that one day an account will be given to the Lord.” [Warren Wiersbe. Windows on the Parables. (Wheaton,Ill.: Victor Books, 1979) p. 83]