It’s so easy to be generous with someone else’s money. The steward in the story could see the writing on the wall and prepared for the inevitable. Yet, Jesus praised his actions. Sounds like Jesus was promoting embezzlement.
Keep in mind that the story never happened. Jesus was teaching about accountability. The steward was fine until he got caught. The same mentality is prevalent today. “It isn’t not wrong unless I get caught. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” In our highly paranoid society we have surveillance cameras, alarms, background checks. Almost everywhere we go we are being watched. Although we are all accountable, the first step towards honesty is to trust ourselves. If we justify that stealing money is ok, as long as it’s a small amount, then we have compromised our values. Who determines the amount? How much is a little and how much is a lot? “A person who is dishonest in small matters is also dishonest is great ones.” Values are learned at a young age, which is why formative years, developmental years are so important. Parents need to be vigilant about how their children handle things that do not belong to them. Consider the care we give to public property—from recreation centers to putting trash where it belongs. What is everyone’s responsibility usually ends up being no one’s responsibility. “Let the next person worry about it. My tax dollars paid for this anyway.” Precisely why Jesus said, “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” Our behavior will always betray what is inside our soul. The way we drive, our speech, whether we are violent or not—actions speak louder than words. From the time we wake to the time we return to bed—we are held accountable for every moment of the day. God is the owner who has entrusted His creation to our care.
Possessions are just one part of the big picture. Possessions are only a tool, certainly not our only purpose in life. Possessions do not give us our identity, although we refer to people in dollar amounts—so and so is worth x number of dollars. Guess what, we are all worth the Blood of Jesus Christ. He paid the price to set us free. So if we have a lot of money or very little, to Jesus we are all precious and worth His Sacrifice.
A few years back there was a song that was popular and sung in many churches: “He’s got the whole world in His Hands.” Indeed, God owns the whole world. However, He has put everything in our hands, so much is His trust, His love for us. Like the steward in the story we need to look ahead, recognize our mistakes and try to prepare for the future. One of the most powerful weapons that God has placed in our hands is the ability to forgive. If we have wronged each other or ourselves, we can ask forgiveness. Letting go of the past frees us to move forward, otherwise we remain trapped. The steward was given a blank check from his Master. We have been given the same opportunity—to do and undo the hurt in our relationships. Notice that the steward was interested in those who would later take care of him in the future. Our life is about relationships. “How much do you owe? Take your note and tear it up. All is forgiven.” We are all in debt to the Master. We have all sinned. Countless of people are waiting to hear the words of freedom—that they have been forgiven. We are not only responsible for all that we see; we are responsible for each other.
Opportunity knocks. Don’t wait until tomorrow—might never come. Today we can be like the prudent steward and free others from their debt.