Summary: Some people think that anyone Jesus mentions in a parable is a hero or an example of a noble character. If that’s what you think, then be prepared for a shock, because two of these men are really bad characters.
Parables of the Unjust Steward, Rich Man and Lazarus
Parable of the Unjust Stewart
This parable has been greatly misunderstood, and one of the reasons is because it looks as though our Lord is commending a crook. The steward is a full-blown crook. Some people think that anyone Jesus mentions in a parable is a hero or an example of a noble character. If that’s what you think, then be prepared for a shock, because this man is a really bad character. Luke gives parables by making a contrast. He is the only gospel writer that does this. Most parables are parables by comparison. In this parable the Lord uses as an example a man who followed the principles of the world. We are told in the Word of God that the world loves its own but hates those who belong to God. That is what John said in the 15th Chapter of his gospel: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (v. 18-19). A child of God does not belong to this world and does not live by the principles of this world. In Galatians 1:3-4 Paul says, “… our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” And in Romans 12:2 Paul says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Finally we read in 1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” The first commandment of the world is “self-preservation.” A shady business deal is winked at, questionable practices tolerated, and a cleaver crook is applauded by the world. The law is on the side of the crook and the criminal many times. Every man, according to the world’s law is considered innocent until proven guilty. The Word of god takes the opposite approach. God says that man is guilty until proven innocent. He says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” A man can never be innocent before God, but he certainly can become justified before Him. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Rom. 8:1). When a man trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is justified by faith. This is the only way a man can be justified.
(Luke 16:1) And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
This is the story of a rich man and his unjust steward. A steward is a man who has charge of another man’s goods. Abraham had a steward who had charge of all his possessions. It was Abraham’s steward who went on a long trip to Haran to find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. David had stewards, and they were in charge of all his possessions, including his children. Paul tells us, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2). Stewards should use wealth for their masters’ good and not for their own pleasure. God wants us to enjoy His gifts, but He also wants us to use them wisely.
This story is not a depiction of something or someone else. The rich man is not God, or the devil, or a worldly person. And the steward is not intended to represent a disciple. The steward in this parable would correspond to the president of a corporation. He was in charge of the rich man’s goods. He was guilty of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. He was like the bank president who takes off with the bank’s funds. The unjust steward wasted the goods of his master.
(Luke 16:2) And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Accountability is an essential part of daily living. It is required of the giver and the responsibility of the recipient. The employed are accountable to the employer, the married man or woman to their spouse and family, the citizen to society, and all of us to God. The steward was summoned and told, “Give an account of your stewardship.”
We are stewards, not owners: the word “my” on any man’s lips is false. God is the only capitalist. Our job is not hoarding of wealth or using it for our own pleasure, but the proper circulation and use of it in God’s sight. God is Creator and Owner of all things. All that we possess comes as a gift from His hand. Our master Jesus Christ will ultimately require an accounting of each person’s stewardship.