I’m taking a one day detour from the major topic at hand to go into one of the most intriguing parables Jesus has given us. It is very rich in dealing with both this life and the afterlife, and how worldly goods connect both realities. It also discusses how many in the world ‘outdo’ those who are in the light, and gives the reasons why this is so. Its lessons are very relevant for our current situation and it would bode well for Christians to take stock in the words of our Savior.
The parable is found in Luke 16:1-13, and incorporates three significant and somewhat distinct aspects. 1) The dishonest steward squanders his master’s goods, and is terminated after a measure of time. 2) the dishonest steward acts quickly within the world to assure himself of a position after termination, and 3) A general statement by Jesus stating the world is better at taking care of its own that those who are ‘saved’ and that no one can love two masters, and must choose between them.
The dishonest steward abuses his position within the household. This individual acted as if there would be no accounting of any type whatsoever, and thus, like today, believed things were to go on ‘as normal’. The steward was caught off guard when the master unexpectedly called him on his behavior, and he realized he would soon be unemployed. Life as the steward had known it, was over, and a new reality was about to set in on him, as he filled his measure, or cup, and had to make the necessary adjustments. What is a little different in this parable is the fact the steward assessed his situation honestly, and did not ‘grovel’ to his master for any more chances.
This man then interacts with the world, by offering to reduce the debt of those who owed a considerable amount to his master. The steward understood enough about the world that if he did favors for those who owed much, then he in his need would find ‘grateful benefactors’ when he needed their help. Jesus throws the Pharisees a curve ball by making the statement “the master commended the steward for his shrewdness” despite the fact the steward gave away his master’s goods and not his own. Jesus also seemed to make clear that despite the commendation; the steward was still terminated, thus having filled his cup of iniquity.
Jesus then goes on to teach those in the audience that the world knows how to play the game better than those who are saved. When someone believes there is no god, the individual is clear he needs to ‘make his own breaks’. This assures actions, and if the drive is strong enough, this person will do whatever he needs to do to accomplish his goals. Unfortunately, those who are ‘saved’ or Christians, want to depend on God to do all things for them, and often become very complacent in the ‘action’ mode. Too often, the Christian wants to ‘pray’ about the situation, but does not follow up with action, believing God will do it himself, or raise up ‘someone else’ to do the dirty work.
It is the INACTION of the Christian, not the evil activities of unbelievers that advance sin in this world. We already know what the truth is, and the truth always wins out against the lie. The problem is that few do much about the lie and few ACT ON WHAT THEY KNOW TO BE TRUE. Evil advances ONLY when those who know the truth do nothing. Comfort is a form of mammon, as is convenience. Jesus is very authorative in his discourses that following him is carrying a cross, and that one ‘dies to self’ on a regular basis. This is a message of discomfort and inconvenience, and it is a clear ‘call to arms’ for the Christian to be the light of the world as Jesus mandates for his followers.
The dishonest steward took a calculated risk by giving his master’s goods away, that he would sow some good will amongst his fellow man. God gives us 100% assurance we will be well rewarded for giving His word and message of salvation away, yet few want to ‘risk it’. The only way to build that eternal treasure that can never be taken away is to be an ACTIVE witness for the Faith. One cannot serve the master of comfort and convenience and simultaneously be a warrior for Christ. The line is clear and becoming clearer by the day. Which master will you choose to follow?