Jesus mentions stewardship a few times during His ministry, as do the apostles in their letters to the churches. In this parable, he talks about an unjust steward who is applauded by his rich employer for his shrewdness. This is a hard one to understand the lesson behind the story. What do you think?
He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. 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.’
“Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’
“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Some of this is confusing to me as far as what Jesus is teaching. Why would the unjust steward be commended for his shrewdness? Some say he removed his own commission. Others say at least the master is getting some return. Perhaps it is about making and keeping relationships.
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
And why does Jesus say make friends with unrighteous mammon? Perhaps he is saying to make friends with nonbelievers so that they can see your example and you can be a witness to them.
The obvious lesson here is don’t be greedy. Don’t let money become your idol. I think it also says to be good stewards with what God has given you. Use it to help others and not just yourself.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
We should be generous with the gifts God has given us, whether it is money or possessions, or our time and talents. As good stewards, our goal should be to meet the needs of others, and when we give it should come from our hearts.
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. God is well pleased when we are generous, but we should not do it to gain reward, although that is a benefit, but because of our love for God and for others, and that we want to do what is right.
He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.
When we see poverty, God says don’t look the other way but help your fellow man (or woman). Have compassion. Show love. Do good. Be a Good Samaritan. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Let us always remember all that Jeus did for us. He gave of Himself so that we may be saved. Nothing we ever do can earn salvation, but because of our love and gratitude for His grace and His sacrifice for us, we ought to do good for others.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Did you get that last part? We are God’s workmanship. His masterpiece. We were created to do good. Let God work through you to meet the needs of others so that they might see His grace.