Bible Reading: Luke 16:1-13, NKJV
Throughout Scripture we are commanded to serve God, as well as our brothers and sisters. Further, we’re shown examples of what selfless service looks like, from Joseph to Paul and Timothy.
But what does a bad steward look like? What can we learn from one who is called into service, but responds poorly?
Let’s look at the parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16:1-13.
To summarize, there was a rich man who was told that his steward (the manager of his assets) was doing a poor job with the resources entrusted to him. The rich man decided to fire the steward, and asked him to provide an account of the money he had handled.
The man—knowing that he had no other skills and would soon be out on the street—decided to cozy up to the debtors at the expense of his master, in the hopes that they would take care of him after he was released from his role.
There are always consequences for the decisions we make, and we see a few in this parable.
Loss of Testimony: When we are unfaithful, we will be discovered and our testimony will be lost. We’re told in verse 1 that “charges were brought to [the rich man] that this man was wasting his possessions.”
In other words, people knew that the man had been given much, but that he had been wasteful. The problem reached such a point that someone had to step forward and alert the rich man, who quickly did away with his manager.
Loss of Reputation: The steward couldn’t have gotten where he was without having some success. Yet, while his entire job was handling money, he was disorganized and unaware.
He had to summon each debtor and ask them how much they owed. His reputation was damaged as one-by-one he showed that he hadn’t kept track of his accounts.
Loss of Stewardship: The dishonest man probably thought that he would never get caught and would stay in favor. However when we are wasteful, God will remove us as stewards.
This man shrewdly knew that his time was up, and furthered the damage by going to his master’s debtors and cutting their bills. He hoped they would feel indebted to him and welcome him into their homes when he was thrown out of the master’s house.
That’s a lot of damage for a man who was lazy at best, criminal at worst.
What About Us?
What about the resources that God has placed in your charge? Your family, your finances, your ministry, your church?
Are you being faithful? Is your work showing your heart for the Lord, or are you hurting your testimony and reputation by cutting corners, pointing fingers, or avoiding service altogether?
Like the steward, who placated others while hurting his employer, perhaps you have one foot in your Master’s business but the other in the world. It might even sound nice to get away from the stress of ministry and let others handle the burden.
The problem is that once ministry is removed due to your unfaithfulness, the loss is significant and long-term.
The lesson of this entire parable can be summed up in verse 10:
“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.”
As Christians we need to be faithful with what God has entrusted to us, as we are merely His stewards. Examine what He’s given you, be faithful in your dealings and ministry, and allow Him to work through you as you serve!
Are you at peace with God? Start here.
Scripture Reference: Luke 16:1-13
1 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.
2 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.’
3 “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.
4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’
5 “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’
7 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.’
8 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.
9 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.
10 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.
11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
13 “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.”