Summary: A study on the principles of stewardship
Introduction: In our text Christ told His disciples the story of a rich man who had a steward or what would be comparable today to a business manager accused of squandering his employer’s property. The employer called his manager on the carpet saying, "What’s this I hear about your stealing from me? I need to see your books. It’s obvious that you can no longer be trusted to manage my property." At this point the manager thought, ’What am I going to do? I am going to be fired. I don’t have the strength to do manual labor, and I certainly don’t want to beg. He came up with a scheme. He thought I know what will work so that I will have lots of people who will take care of me when I’ve lost this job.’ So, the manager called on each one of the rich man’s debtors. He asked the first, ’How much do you owe my employer?’ "The man replied, ’Eight hundred gallons of olive oil.’ The manager told him, ’Tear up that bill and write another one for four hundred gallons. He did correspondingly with each of those indebted to his employer and in so doing ingratiated himself with these debtors. These men now would be indebted to him and take care of him when he was removed from his position as the rich man’s chief steward or manager. When the rich man became aware of his manager’s scheme, he admired and commended the dishonest manager for being so perceptive or shrewd. Commenting on this account Christ states that worldly people are shrewder than Christians when it comes to dealing with people and possessions." Christ did not condone the evil action of this unjust steward but pointed to a lesson for all believers. In order to understand this lesson, we need to look at the principles of stewardship, the distinction between shrewdness and wisdom, and the necessity for wisdom and prudence.
I. Principles of Stewardship
A. This man was a steward - so are we.
1. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s."
2. Psalms 24:1 "A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
B. This man was entrusted with wealth and property of his master - so are we.
1. 1 Corinthians 4:2 "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
2. John Wesley. "When the Possessor of heaven and earth brought you into being and placed you in this world, He placed you here not as an owner but as a steward. As such, He entrusted you for a season with goods of various kinds--but the sole property of these still rests in Him, nor can ever be alienated from Him. As you are not your own but His, such is likewise all you enjoy."
3. Matthew 25:15 "And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey."
4. 1 Peter 4:10 "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
C. This man was called to give an account of his stewardship - so shall we.
1. Romans 14:12 "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
2. Life is like a cash register in that every account, every thought, every deed, like every sale, is registered and recorded.
3. I Corinthians 3:8 "Now he that plants and he that waters are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor."
4. Luke 12:48 "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
D. This man sought to be received into an earthly home - we to an eternal home.
1. I Corinthians 9:25 "And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible."
2. For the vast majority of the world today, the essence of life is not having - it has become having to have. We live in an age that seeks self-gratification.
3. II Corinthians 5:9-10 "Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."