The Dishonest Steward, drawings by Eugene Burnand (1850-1921)
Luke 16:1-13 (NIV) — Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
From Daily Hope with Rick Warren, July 2018, at: http://www.PastorRick.com
The Bible tells the story in Luke 16:1-13 of a rich man who enlisted a manager to take care of his property. When the manager was accused of mishandling his master’s money and was called in to give an account of his stewardship, the manager devised a plan. He knew he was going to lose his job and decided to make some friends who would take care of him when he was fired. So he summoned everyone who owed his master money and lowered their debt; if someone owed 800 gallons of olive oil, he told them to change their bill to 400 gallons.
When the master heard what he had done, he “had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light” (Luke 16:8 NLT).
In the parable, Jesus doesn’t praise the manager’s dishonesty, but he does praise his shrewdness. What is shrewdness? To be shrewd means you’re smart, strategic, and resourceful. You see a problem clearly, you know what needs to be done, and then you figure out how to do it. God wants you to learn how to be biblically shrewd with your money for the rest of your life.
From the story, we can learn four things that we shouldn’t do with our money.
1. Don’t waste your money.
Luke 16:1 says, “A report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money” (NLT). Because everything you have belongs to God and is a gift from him — including your money — you have to be careful not to waste what belongs to your master.
2. Don’t love your money.
You’ve got to decide if God is going to be number one in your life or if making a lot of money will be your main goal in life. You cannot serve both. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13 NLT).
3. Don’t trust your money.
I don’t care how much money you’ve got — you can always lose it. The manager learned this pretty quickly in Luke 16:3: “Now what? My boss has fired me.” If you want to be secure, the center of your life has to be built around something that can never be taken from you. And there’s only one thing that you can never lose: God’s love for you.
4. Don’t expect your money to satisfy.
If you think having more will make you happier, more secure, or more valuable, you are seriously misguided, because money will never satisfy: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10 NIV).
That’s why Jesus says in Luke 12:15, “Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (NLT)
O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature. All that we possess is from your hand. Make us always thankful for your loving providence. Give us grace that we may honor you with all we own, always remembering the account we must one day give to Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978, (from prayers #157 and #183)