Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 16:1
“Now He was also saying to the disciples, There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and this steward was reported to him as squandering his possessions.” – Luke 16:1
Today we will look at the Parable of the Dishonest Steward. Here is this first part of this parable as found in Luke’s gospel.
“Now He was also saying to the disciples, There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and this steward was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward. And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the stewardship, they will receive me into their homes. And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, How much do you owe my master? And he said, A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty. Then he said to another, And how much do you owe? And he said, A hundred measures of wheat. He said to him, Take your bill, and write eighty.” Luke 16:1-7.
Now, the first seven verses of Luke sixteen lay out the story Jesus told His disciples. However, in verse fourteen we see that some Pharisees were listening as well. The parable begins with a rich man calling his steward before him to let him know he will be letting him go due to his mismanaging his resources. A steward is a person who manages the resources of another. This steward had authority over all the master’s resources and could transact business in his name. This requires the utmost level of trust in the steward. Now, it appears the master is not aware of the steward’s dishonesty, for the steward is being released for apparent mismanagement, not fraud. This explains why he is able to conduct a few more transactions before he is released and why he is not immediately tossed out on the street or executed. The steward, realizing that he will soon be without a job, makes some shrewd deals behind his master’s back by reducing the debt owed by several of the master’s debtors in exchange for shelter when he is eventually put out. When the master becomes aware of what the wicked servant had done, he commends him for his shrewdness. Then Jesus adds, “for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.” Luke 16:8. What He was saying here is quite interesting. The people who are not followers of Christ are more shrewd in working for what they say is most important, money, fame etc. then those who were His followers.
After completing the parable, He now tells them what it means.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:9-13.
The basic idea is that He was telling them that whatever resources they had, needed to be used to plan ahead, not for this world, but for the eternal life ahead of them. The word ‘mammon’ is from the Aramaic word mammon, which originally meant ‘that in which one puts their trust in,’ hence wealth. Jesus calls it ‘unrighteous mammon’. According to the theologian Adam Clarke, “Riches promise much but yield nothing: they excite hope and confidence and deceive both: in making a man depend on them for happiness, they rob him of the salvation of God and of eternal glory.” In other words, riches cause us to look at them for hope and confidence instead of God, which they cannot truly provide. Remember verse 9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” Luke 16:9. We must invest our resources in the Lord’s work, and not wait until we think we have enough. As an example, In a survey taken in 1992, people were asked how much money they would have to make to have the American dream. Those who earn $25,000 or less a year thought they would need around $54,000. Those in the $100,000 annual income bracket said that they could buy the dream for an average of $192,000 a year. These figures indicate that we typically think we must double our income in order to find the good life, instead of finding it now. Jesus then tells us, “If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” Luke 16:11-12. In both instances, He speaks of using these things for the glory of God.
Then He closes with a very well-known verse. “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13. Jesus states that serving two masters is simply an impossibility. If you think that you are successfully serving two masters, you are deceived. One can have both money and God; but one cannot serve both money and God at the same time. Whichever you would not give up at any cost is who or what you serve. Pray about this, for money will be with us in this life, but God will be with us forever in the life to come.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.