The Crafty Steward

Luke 16: 1-8
Rom 15:14-21 / Psa 98

For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
(Luke 16:8)

Being prudent in this world may seem
Survival for the shrewd and bright,
But true stewardship for God He’ll deem
Only for the Children of Light.

Jesus told His disciples: “There was a rich man whose steward was accused of squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward 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 homes.’ So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ The steward told him, ‘Here is your promissory note; sit down and quickly write down fifty.’ To another he asked, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ The man replied, ‘A thousand bushels of wheat.’ He told him, ‘Here is your promissory note, and make it eight hundred.’ The master commended the dishonest steward because he had acted prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” (Luke 16:1-8)

Reflection

This is probably one of the most difficult parables that our Lord Jesus related for us to understand. First of all, why did the rich master inform the corrupt steward that he was going to get fired while he still had the authority to handle his master’s business affairs? Then the crafty steward cheated his master further by discounting the debts of the people who owed them money, thinking he could win their favor for his future security. I’m sure those people wouldn’t even give him the time of day when he went to them for a job, knowing what a cheat he was. Then, most puzzling of all, the rich master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently (?!).

It is only when we get to the last verse of this Gospel do we get a glimpse of what our Lord really meant. He said, “For the children of this world are more prudent (or astute) in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” (Luke 16:8).

The “children of light” are God’s children. They are not as shrewd in worldly matters as the “children of darkness” are. The latter find security and survival in their wheeling and dealing in this life, but dishonest as they are in worldly things, they can never be God’s stewards in eternal matters as only His children are who will inherit His kingdom.

The rich master in this parable is not an allegorical figure of God the Father. On the contrary, the master in this parable represents the successful leaders and the captains of industries of this world, who claw their way to the top through shrewd manipulations and clever schemes. They commend their own kind, who manage to worm their way out of tight spots or failures by means foul or fair.

Such is not the case for the “children of light.” In the end we all have to face our Maker and give a full accounting of our stewardship. If we are to be welcomed into His eternal home, it can never be by manipulations or compromises, but by complete transparency in the bright light of Truth. And if we are found wanting, we do not have to wiggle out of our failures by shrewd schemes or deceit, but only by genuine repentance. Our God is not like the shrewd rich master, but like a compassionate and forgiving father.

Father God, everything in my life belongs to You. Thank You for the opportunity of serving as Your steward. Guide me with Your wisdom and perseverance so that I may never be found wanting in my stewardship of Your resources. Amen.

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