Q. In the parable of the unjust steward, how are we to view the steward?
A. Your question is an excellent one. Christians have been debating this parable since the establishment of the Bible. Several things that many Bible scholars would agree to are: 1. We are far removed from the culture that this parable unfolded in. Sometimes when we cross cultures with inverse type teachings, and if we lose a small portion of the meaning , we may produce a story that seems to have a missing element. 2. Christ has used this type of teaching before. I call them inverse teachings where He takes an example of sinful men to make a point. The point is NOT that sin is OK. Other points that could be made without going into an exhaustive analysis are: 1. In the preceding chapter on the prodigal son, the wayward son also mismanaged money. In the case of the prodigal son, he was not as worldly wise and fell into physical labor and poverty. Having fallen and not being very worldly wise he came to God broken and found the greatest treasure one can find on Earth. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that these two chapters follow each other. 2. The master’s spirituality was not discussed. Whether the master was worldly and shrewd or wise and just, he did noticed the steward’s quick, selfish but affective response. The text didn’t say that the master agreed with the steward’s actions. By using self centered, worldly wisdom, he circumvented the primary point, if we do wrong and own up to it we can find forgiveness and a changed life. From a worldly point of view he showed a great example of how to deal with a bad situation, without the application of morals and ethics, in an attempt to save one’s hide. He was an example of shrewd, crafty, worldly, self centered, intelligent thinking but missed the eternal Godly point. Having missed the eternal point he missed it all. Worldly wise - eternally a fool. 3. Luke makes a strong point about the relationship between money and Godliness. Each of us must choose if we want to serve money (worldly wisdom) or God (eternal wisdom), it is impossible to serve both (verse 13). Further, if we have done poorly in dealing with money, God will not let us manage the true riches of life. 4. Maybe the parable hinted that worldly wise people show more enthusiasm at gaining money than godly people do at pursuing their faith. Maybe Christians should take a lesson, from the enthusiasm and energy of worldly men in their scramble to gain more money, and show the same enthusiasm for a much higher and rewarding pursuit, God’s will. I would suggest that you post this question on the forum that we have just started. There may be many other individuals who have a thought on this issue or would like to explore its meaning from different perspectives. Since the forum is new, the participation may be slow at developing, but this is a good topic. Thanks for contacting us. Bob