The Parable of the Unjust Steward

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

I.         Luke 16:1-13

            A.        Many find this parable confusing because of the praise of the lord in verse 8.

            B.        How is it that an unfaithful steward, about to be relieved of his position, gains praise from his employer when he ends his career stealing more from him?

II.        This parable follows three other parables that deal with true values

            A.        It starts in Luke 15:1-2 when the Pharisees try to besmirch Jesus’ reputation by associating him with tax collectors and sinful people.

            B.        The Parable of the Lost Sheep - Luke 15:3-7

                        1.         Tells us that every soul is valuable to God and is worth great effort to save.

            C.        The Parable of the Lost Coin - Luke 15:8-10

                        1.         Tells us that we will put forth effort if we think something is valuable enough.

                        2.         If people will put that much effort into retrieving a coin, what about a soul?

            D.        The Parable of the Prodigal Son - Luke 15:11-32

                        1.         Further shows that God wants us back even when we do Him wrong.

                        2.         God is able to forget all past wrongs when we return to Him.

                        3.         However, the Pharisees are too self-centered — caught up in their own righteousness — to see the value of another person.

            E.        The Parable of the Unjust Steward - Luke 16:1-13

                        1.         Pinpoints the source of the Pharisee’s problem.

                        2.         They knew the parable was about them - Luke 16:14

III.       Analysis of the parable

            A.        This is not the only time Jesus uses an unrighteous person to illustrate a righteous principle. See Luke 18:1-8 — The Parable of the Unrighteous Judge

            B.        The lord is our Lord and God.

            C.        Each of us are stewards of God’s creation and His blessings to us

                        1.         Gen 1:28 - Man has dominion over the creation

                        2.         Luke 12:42-48 - We are given stewardship of our own life to do as we see fit, but we must give account of our handling God who gives us our life.

                        3.         I Pet 4:10 - God also gives us different abilities which He expects us to use wisely and faithfully.

                        4.         I Cor 4:1-2 - As Christians we are also given charge of the spreading of the Gospel.

            D.        However, none of us have been truly faithful in managing the things God has given us.

                        1.         We have all wasted time that could have been profitably used.

                        2.         We all have bypassed opportunities that could have brought great profit to our Master.

                        3.         We have misused our talents for things our Lord is not interested in.

                        4.         In short, we have all sinned - Rom. 3:23

                        5.         Like the man in the parable, we each are unjust stewards.

            E.        The unjust steward doesn’t want to work for a living — he is too lazy. Do we not often look for the easy way out. The way that requires the least effort?

            F.        The unjust steward refuses to beg — he is too prideful. Do we not often think of things as being beneath our dignity?

            G.        The unjust steward is warned he is about to lose his job and brilliantly provides for himself by making use of his lord’s resources. The lord doesn’t praise his unrighteous actions, but admires his brilliant planning.

                        1.         We too have been warned that this life is short. It will not last forever. Soon we must stand before our Lord and give an account of the things which we have done. - Heb. 9:27; Rom. 14:12

                        2.         But here the parallel breaks down. As Jesus said, the ungodly of this world know how to get the most from worldly things; but the so-called godly don’t know how to get the most from spiritual things. - Luke 16:8

IV.      Jesus draws a number of applications from this parable for His audience.

            A.        If we are to be praised by God in the judgment, we need to start using all the resources that we have been loaned by God to our best advantage.

                        1.         Not in providing for ourselves in this world. It is temporary. We won’t be around long to enjoy it.

                        2.         The only lasting treasure is heavenly - Matt 6:19-21

                        3.         What benefits God is to our benefit in the long run. If we use God’s gifts to us to provide for ourselves in the here-after, then we are not wasting our Lord’s resources; but we are doing God’s will.

            B.        Jesus encourages us to make “friends” with money - Luke 16:9

                        1.         Not friends of this world, but spiritual friends.

                        2.         We need to use the things of this physical realm to do the will of Christ - I Tim. 6:17-19

                        3.         Our friendship with Christ is a lasting relationship, if we will do His will - John 15:14

            C.        God is watching how we make use of the little things that we call our existence and our life to see if we are faithful enough to handle heaven. - Luke 16:10-12

                        1.         We use this principle in business. You don’t put a young man, fresh from college in charge of your company. You start him out on small jobs. If he can handle it, you move him up.

                        2.         People tend to behave the same whether with little or much. A person who is willing to steal a little will steal all the more with much.

                        3.         This life is a test for promotion to the next - Matt 25:29

                        4.         If we can’t make profitable use of our borrowed lives from God, why should we be given eternal life?

V.        However, the true problem with the Pharisees is that they were too caught up in the current life.

            A.        They lost the perspective. They put priority on the things of this world.

            B.        You cannot serve the world and God. They both demand everything you can give. How many have jobs that when you give extra, want that and more besides?

            C.        Something has to give. You have to chose who you will serve.

            D.        What will you do with the life God has given you?

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