Christadelphian magazine on the Unjust Stewart

The Christadelphian | October 2017

The October 2017 issue of the Christadelphian looks at a few passages in the Gospels which might be as problematic as the Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16.

It tells the story of a steward who, when accused of financial irregularities, swindles his employer still further in an attempt to ingratiate himself with his employer’s clients. He is then, contrary to what we might have expected, commended by his employer. Finally, the disciples of Jesus are encouraged to learn something from the steward’s example.

Paul Wasson looks at some problems of interpretation which present themselves.

What exactly was the steward doing when he extricated himself from his predicament? Why did “the master”, presumably the lord of the estate rather than the Lord Jesus, commend his servant after he had acted so dishonestly? Who are the “friends” whom his disciples make by the mammon of unrighteousness and who will “receive [them] into an everlasting home”? And what is the moral of the parable; what lesson does it teach? Verses 10-13 offer a commentary on the faithful stewardship of wealth but the central character in the story has not handled his master’s wealth faithfully.

Despite his moral failings, the steward recognized that the real value of money consists in its power to create goodwill and friendliness. In other words, it was a means to a higher end according to his own debased standards. And then the comment of Jesus:

“The sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” (verse 8)

By this, Jesus means that if his followers could be as single-minded in fulfilling the responsibilities of discipleship as the rogues of this world are in promoting their own interests and getting themselves out of a fix, then the Christian faith would be a much more vibrant force in the world.

In the magazine this month:

Come to read how Wasson comes to the conclusion

The steward was not faithful in another man’s wealth. He used it to further his own interests, according to his own debased moral standards. And yet he recognized that wealth is a means to a higher end. And disciples should recognize the same truth but on a higher level. Wealth is not morally neutral. Its very possession is a measure of something higher. What makes possessions of all kinds right or wrong is their influence on character and the way we use them in our Master’s service. That is a measure of our trustworthiness for eternal stewardship.

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