“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior” (Lk 16:8, 9; TM)
The parable of ‘The Unjust Steward’ is one of the most difficult to understand. But it is the Lord who said it, so we have to pay the price for a better understanding of it. First of all we remind ourselves that it is not the description of a true event. A parable is a short, imaginary story that illustrates a moral or religious principle. We shall seek to find the lessons to apply in our lives and the spiritual laws that have eternal value.
This is the story: A rich man received an accusation against his manager, that he was wasteful with his goods. He gave him quick notice to bring all his accounting books that he is fired. There was no begging…
This manager was probably living luxuriously. Let’s imagine some details about this man: When he was hired, he was a jobless and homeless man living on the streets. But since working for the rich man, his life has changed dramatically. Possibly, he has hired a big house in an expensive estate; he had a big car; his ‘new’ wife dresses fashionably; his children go to an expensive private school… He maybe had the right to use his discretion in paying his living allowance. But he decided to ‘live big’…That is how (some jealous) people saw it and accused him to his master. Now his wonderful job was terminated… What can he do, to still live happily, according to his standard? He quickly thought about other options…A low paying job like digging gutters is out of the question. Begging is also ruled out for he still needs to keep his reputation as a successful man…
What else can he do, with the little time left at his big desk?
He decided to accept the accusation of ‘wasting money’ and used it in his favor. He quickly made some mental calculations: his master is a good man. But he is disappointed in him and he has lost his respect. But the manager does not want to completely cut himself off from his master’s life and blessings. If he cannot go and visit his former boss, who has been so good to him, at least he can make friends with his friends and business associates. They all depend on the rich man for their survival. So he calls them, one by one, not complaining about his loss, but blessing them. He chose to invest in their lives. Before his master’s debtors knew about his true condition, he reduced their debt. For the last few minutes at his desk, he still had that right. That was a great favor done to them. This was in his mind: ‘May this sacrificial favor done to others be a seed to come back as an harvest to me and my family…’ He invested in their friendship that may last a life time. Even when his former master shall forget about him, his people shall remember him still, for good, and continue to pray for him. That was a fast wise move…
Much later, when his former master discovered what had happened, he was amazed at his wisdom. He could not continue to be angry with him. He even recommended him to others as an example of a good investor, even if he did it at his own expense.
Jesus then uses this story to give us spiritual laws to apply to our lives. Please think seriously about these:
It is not enough to desire and pray for more money. First of all, pray that you understand how money works, according to the Bible! You cannot avoid money. To be ignorant or intimidated by money is a sin. Pray that you can be the master of money; never its servant. Money should never dominate your thinking until you become an old greedy selfish and foolish man. Money is a bad master but it can be a wonderful servant if you know how to ‘train him’ to work for you. The Bible teaches you that! Use money to gain spiritual blessings. Invest money in God’s work! Invest money in the lives and ministries of God’s people.
Please answer the following questions:
Are you emotionally and spiritually depended on your job…or on God?
Are you afraid of poverty, of riches or you fear God alone?
Do you pay your tithe?
Are you investing money in God’s work and in God’s people, to the satisfaction of your conscience…or not?
Are you spiritually and financially wise and prudent…or not?
Can I recommend you to heaven (in prayer) that God should trust you with more money…or not?
Is Mammon your good and faithful servant…or not?
Is Jehovah Jireh your God…or not?
In Christ I declare:
I depend on God for my very life!
I fear God alone!
I pay my tithe!
I invest in God’s work and in the lives and ministries of God’s people!
I am spiritually and financially wise and prudent!
Jehovah Jireh is my God!
Jesus Christ is my Lord!
Mammon is my servant!
It works for me!
To the glory of God!
In Jesus name