The Parable Of The Unjust Steward
To retell Jesus’ parable in a modern setting: “A wealthy businessman had an administrator whom he had hired to manage his financial affairs. Through poor decision-making the administrator had ‘managed’ to squander some of the businessman’s financial empire.
“About to be called to account and soon fired, he came up with an ingenious plan. While still possessing the authority, he would reduce the debt load of some of his boss’s creditors, thereby securing a ‘debt of gratitude’ that would serve his interests in the future. When the wealthy businessman discovered this, he had to commend his administrator for his shrewdness.
“While his actions were dishonest, they were surely within his jurisdiction.”
Jesus’ application: “The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (v. 8).
People who live only for themselves and for the here-and-now are often more zealous and resourceful in achieving their earthly and material goals than are God’s people in the pursuit of their far more important spiritual and eternal goals.
It is the unbelievers’ zeal and resourcefulness (not their goals or methods) which the Savior encourages us to emulate. Consider the varying creative and effective ways your money can be invested for you today–all to fit your unique situation and to maximize your financial security. In good stewardship, you Christians can and should utilize these financial “tools”–so long as your “portfolio” remains in perspective and it does not detract from your God-given stewardship responsibilities in life.
Compare the world’s selfish this-life goals with the Christian’s spiritual and eternal-life goals, and then ask yourself: “Which are more worthy of my heart and soul, my commitment and zeal, my time and energy, my gifts and resources?”
Surely the things of God are of immeasurably more value and durability: the faith and salvation of souls. Even the very things many children of this world live and die for–“Mammon” (money and the things it can buy)–can become our “friends” (v. 9). They can be put in perspective and to good use in the Lord’s Kingdom. They can become a heavenly investment that takes on far greater and more lasting value than anything money can buy: ongoing Word and Sacrament faith-nurturing ministries in our CLC congregations, students being given a Christian education life-foundation at ILC, and souls plucked from eternal death through our mission ministries.
Our Savior’s final words leave no room for indecision or compromise: “No servant can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve God and Mammon” (v. 13). One of them will be your god; one of them will win your heart; one of them will control your life. Either one or the other, but not both.
Perhaps, more often than we realize or care to admit, we find ourselves standing before the altars of both God and Mammon.
Lord, forgive us for our sometimes divided hearts, our sinful attachment to the things of this world. For Jesus’ sake, forgive us and strengthen our faith. By Your grace, help us to become dedicated, resourceful servants of our Heavenly Master. May we in faith invest all we are and everything we have been freely given in Your eternal “securities” that can be neither devalued nor destroyed.
Many spend their lives in fretting Over trifles and in getting Things that have no solid ground. I shall strive to win a treasure That will bring me lasting pleasure And that now is seldom found. (TLH 425:3)
–Pastor David Schierenbeck