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Just Stewards – Luke 16:1-12 (A Meditation) October 29, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: New Testament, Jesus Christ.
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I’ve been asked to be a fundraiser now for several Christian organizations. Each one has been the same story: Big ideas for all of the things that could be done in the name of God to help more people, reach more people, save more people . . . but a dwindling funding source for these dreams. I’ve heard “God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He’ll come through for our ideas.” And, “if His people would just open their wallets and give more, imagine all we could do.”

The parable of the ‘unjust steward’ and the verses that follow shed light on some problems at the heart of these dilemmas. Primarily it gets us to look at our role in the work of God before blaming Him or His people for not keeping up their end.

The story is about stewardship and determining whether or not one is a trustworthy steward. The unjust steward of the story is found to be ‘wasteful’. This is a reflection of his attitude toward his rich master. Perhaps he became wasteful of someone else’s stuff/money by thinking thoughts like, “my master is rich, there’s no end to his money, surely he won’t miss a few dollars here or there.” And he reinforces this belief each time he spends or gives wastefully.

After he is caught, he loses his job. But he acts shrewdly going around reducing everyone’s debt (again, spending his master’s money) before the debtors know he doesn’t work for the master anymore. The debtors end up liking both the master and the steward more as a result; and the steward is commended by the master and by Jesus for understanding how money can be used to influence friends and promote your boss.

Next Jesus preaches (vv. 10-15) clearly about trustworthiness with what we own as a way of developing the kind of heart that can be trusted in eternity with the Life and Riches of God. First He says – if you have been trustworthy with very little you will be trusted with much. When we compare ourselves to God and when we compare what we are entrusted with on earth to what we will inherit in heaven, every human being has “very little”. Very little is the portion we’ve been given with the hearts we have to exercise our giving and spending muscles to ready them for eternity. This means that while God may own the cattle on a thousand hills (and a few solar systems), we do not.

We have been allotted a very small amount of God’s possessions that we must steward. This will require clear, strategic and focused giving and spending patterns. We have been allocated a limited amount in proportion to our limited skills and finite hearts. We can also be sure that the resources are sufficient for the work God desires for us to do. Whenever we overspend that allotment we are acting like the unjust steward. The words Jesus uses to describe such a person are “wasteful”, “dishonest” and “untrustworthy”.

The lack of discipline in this area does nothing to prepare our hearts for our eternal work. “If you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own [especially those things you will possess forever]?”