WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JUNE 08, 2023
TOPIC: SEVEN LESSONS FROM THE UNJUST STEWARD
BY T. O. BANSO
“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’” (Luke 16:1-2 New King James Version).
The parable of the unjust steward has generated much discussion among Christians. People have given it different interpretations. Christians always ask questions such as why the rich master of the unjust steward should commend him for reducing the money his debtors (the rich man’s debtors) owed him after he had told him that he would no longer be his steward.
Some Christians also wonder why Jesus used the negotiation of this unjust steward with his employer’s debtors to teach Christians to use worldly wealth to make friends for themselves so that when it is gone, they would be welcomed into an eternal home.
Nobody understands everything in the Bible, given that the culture of the people in Bible times is different from that of today. We must keep learning every day.
Here are some lessons I have learnt from this parable:
1. Be faithful with what belongs to others. 1 Corinthians 4:2 says it is required in stewards that one should be found faithful. A steward was someone entrusted with the care of the goods of his master. He acted as his agent, and was, therefore, expected to be faithful. The unjust steward was unfaithful. Luke 16:12 says, “And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (New King James Version).
2. Don’t be wasteful. Luke 16:1-2 says, “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’” (New King James Version).
The Bible does not tell us how he wasted his employer’s goods. Even when he was confronted, the Bible does not say that he made any defence.
Don’t be wasteful. “There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it” (Proverbs 21:20 New King James Version). The prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 wasted his money in riotous living. His brother said he squandered his money on harlots or prostitutes (verse 30).
In John 6:12-13, after Jesus had miraculously fed a huge crowd of over 5,000 men, excluding children and women, He ensured that nothing was wasted. His disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftover food. Similarly, after He had fed 4,000, His disciples gathered seven large baskets of leftover food (Matthew 15:37; Mark 8:20).
3. You’ll give an account of your stewardship one day. You’ll give an account to your employer or the appointing authorities here on earth. You will give an account of how you performed your assignments or discharged the responsibilities entrusted to you.
The unjust steward probably had been so deceived by the power of his office that he forgot that he was still accountable to his employer. His wastefulness was reported to his employer and he called him to give an account of his stewardship, as he could no longer be his steward.
Don’t be so deceived by the power and glamour of any office you occupy that you forget that you’re accountable to a higher authority and you’ll give an account one day.
In Matthew 25:14-30, the master who gave talents to his three servants called them to give account when he returned from his journey. The same thing happened to the ten servants the nobleman gave one mina each to invest (Luke 19:11-27). One day, you’ll give an account of your work in your office or business.
More importantly, you’ll give account to God one day. Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment. What will matter at that time is if you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and if you lived your life in obedience to His Word. Romans 14:12 says each person shall give a personal account to God.
Jesus said, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work” (Revelation 22:12 New King James Version). You will give an account on Judgment Day.
Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 New King James Version).
4. Ask questions about your life, especially your future. The unjust steward asked himself what he would do after his master had sacked him. It appears his sack had not been made public then. The master still wanted him to give account. “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’” (Luke 16:3 New King James Version).
He ought to have examined his life when he was wasting his master’s goods. Nevertheless, he asked himself a practical or sensible question. Which work would he do after he had been fired? Some people would not ask such an important question. They would live in denial, keep hoping the sack would be cancelled, or go about lying against their employers. Ask questions about your life, especially your future.
5. Make plans for your future. To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. The unjust steward was proactive after asking himself what he would do after the loss of his job. He didn’t wait till he would finally leave the job before he decided what to do. He had foresight.
He came up with a plan to reduce the debts owed by his master’s debtors so “that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses” (Luke 16:4b New King James Version).
Think ahead. Prayerfully make plans for your future. Planning is different from anxiety or worry. Don’t merely say I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Though your future is in the hands of God, you can prayerfully make plans. Proverbs 21:5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (New Living Translation).
6. Execute your plan without unnecessary delay. The unjust steward quickly implemented his plan. He didn’t procrastinate. He called each of his master’s debtors and asked him how much he owed. He told each debtor to change his debt to a lower figure. He reduced their debts.
Many Bible readers regard this as dishonesty. Even Bible teachers have divergent views on this. Some believe that if he had cheated his master by reducing the amounts owed his master, he (not Jesus) would not have commended him for his shrewdness. “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd” (Luke 16:8a New Living Translation). Note that his master commended him for his shrewdness, not for his dishonesty or wasting his possessions.
Some Bible teachers believe that what the unjust steward removed from the debts of his master’s debtors was the interest, which his master had charged contrary to the law of Moses (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:34-36; Deuteronomy 23:19-20). Thus, his master was left with the actual amount each debtor owed. The Bible does not tell us this. Others have also explained that what the steward removed was his commission, which was part of the debts. The Bible does not state this either.
These two explanations and the popular explanation that the steward cheated his master by reducing the money due to him from his debtors, whichever is correct, would have helped this steward to gain the favour of the debtors and, hopefully, secure employment with any of them thereafter. This was his goal. Interestingly, his master commended his shrewdness.
Execute your plan, but make sure it doesn’t violate the Word of God. Faith without corresponding action is dead (James 2:20). Don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is not only the thief of time; it is the thief of destiny.
7. Use your worldly riches generously to bring souls to Christ. Don’t be selfish. Be generous. The unjust steward cleverly made friends with the debtors of his employer. He knew he had lost favour with his employer, so he generously reduced the debts owed by his master’s debtors. As I’ve said, some Bible teachers believe he didn’t cheat his employer.
Jesus noted that the sons of this world are “more shrewd” in their generation than the sons of light. Jesus wanted his followers to learn from this unjust steward’s use of unrighteous mammon (worldly riches) to make friends who would welcome him to their homes after he had become jobless.
Jesus said, “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?” (Luke 16:9-12 New King James Version).
Believers should use their earthly wealth to make friends for eternity. They should invest their worldly riches to save souls, thereby making friends they’ll spend eternity together – eternity with God. Jesus didn’t ask us to emulate the unjust steward for wasting his master’s goods or cheating him, but for using earthly wealth to make friends.
Jesus ended the parable by saying, “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” (Luke 16:13 New King James Version).
Don’t be an unjust or dishonest steward. Be a faithful steward that God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” to. Be a faithful steward that He will receive eternal reward and spend eternity with Him.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to be a faithful steward in the Kingdom of God. Help me to be faithful with what belongs to others. I shall serve God and not money but use my money to serve God. I shall use my worldly wealth to make friends for eternity. I shall invest my earthly resources in the salvation of souls.
(For over 900 in-depth and insightful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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