“Good lessons from a bad example.” The steward in the story was dishonest. He was in charge of accounts receivable and was reported for cheating. “You’re fired”, said the master.
From one moment to the next, the steward’s livelihood was taken away. He went from being in charge to being thrown out. Thoughts flashed in his head about possibilities of what he was going to do. The steward knew that he was not a physically strong man, so that manual labor was out of the question. He couldn’t see himself on a street corner as a homeless person begging for food. When the master asked him to close out the books—to give an account of his stewardship, he got an idea. Accounting was his business. He knew all about the system. Therefore, he used the system to help himself. The steward called in his master’s debtors one by one. “How much do you owe?” “One hundred measure of olive oil.” One measure is about 9 gallons. Therefore, the total owed was 900 gallons of olive oil. Takes a lot of olives to make one gallon of oil. Imagine the reaction from the man who owed the 900 gallons of olive oil when he was told, “Forget the original contract. We are changing your bill from 900 gallons to 450 gallons.” The man probably smiled ear to ear and said, “I like you. You just saved me a lot of money. If you ever need a favor from me, just ask. By the way, if you ever need a place to stay, ‘My house is your house.’” The second man owed one hundred kors of wheat. A kor is the equivalent of 10 bushels. So, he owed 1,000 bushels of wheat. The steward said, “Take your bill and change the amount to eighty. Therefore, instead of I,000 bushels, you owe 800.” “I like you. Thank you for being so kind to me. By the way, if you ever need anything from me, just ask.”
The steward became well-liked among his master’s debtors. Nice to be generous with other people’s money. Although he had been fired, the steward still had the power. He had control of the books. He used his power wisely. At times we might disagree with how some folks use the resources entrusted to them. Yet, we can appreciate the good results that come from their actions. In essence, Jesus says, “Be like the steward. Use the resources at your disposal to make friends.” In other words, “Use your money for the good of the Kingdom.” Everything that we have must be used to bring others to Christ. We can’t take “it” with us. There are no U halls behind a hearse. Money is only a tool. Relationships are forever. True friends last for eternity, where one day they will welcome us into heavenly dwellings.
On the other hand, Jesus says, “Don’t be like the steward.” “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.” Consider that if we do not put oil into the lawnmower, we will probably neglect to keep up the maintenance on our car. A person who does not clean their room; leaves trash around, never hangs their clothes, is probably going to have a messy house. Small matters lead to big consequences. “I stole only one dollar. What’s a dollar? Who will miss a dollar?” The amount is not as important as the action. Stealing is a sin, regardless of the amount. If money dominates our lives, we have lost the focus—the reason for our existence. Mammon or money or wealth only desires more. God compels us to share what we have. “No servant can serve two masters.” The sentence is incomplete…No servant can serve two masters that are opposed to each other. A servant has no rights. The master is in charge. Which master rules our life? Which master do we want to serve? Everything is borrowed. The Divine Master owns everything. We are the stewards who have been entrusted. What we have in the bank is not as important as how we treat one another.
God is the Master that we want to serve. For Him alone do we live.