Category Archives: survival

The Unjust Steward

Luke 16:8-9The Message (MSG)

1-2 Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a rich man who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.’
3-4 “The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’
5 “Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 “He replied, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ “The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now—write fifty.’ 7 “To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’ “He answered, ‘A hundred sacks of wheat.’ “He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’
8-9 “Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”
I have always had some difficulty with the above scripture.  In the larger context Jesus applauds the steward who failed his responsibilities miserably but who redeemed himself by earning favor from his master’s debtors.
I have reviewed other versions of this text but, none of them have provided the clarity that The Message (MSG) has. This scripture reveals the personal dilemma that I am facing now.  I am waiting for a financial breakthrough and I need my own brand of creative survival to enhance my position.
The philosophical twist is this: I want to do well, to experience some success.  I have been blessed for many years although I have also experienced times when circumstances seemed overwhelming and resources seemed hard to come by.
A teacher spoke recently saying “Your salvation is not for you to live comfortably.  It is a journey that will lead you on paths that will shape your character to resemble that of Christ.” Therefore, like the Manager, I need to employ wisdom to fully utilize the resources that I have to get by well and to be an encouragement to others.
Much like the Steward, I might be too proud to dig.  I feel like my current job is digging although it is far less harrowing than manual labor.   That may be what I and the Steward need to learn, humility and willingness to serve.  What is the mammon for anyway but currency in this world,  it will not travel to the Kingdom with us.
Jesus goes on to contrast loving God or loving mammon; one cannot do both.  We grow into putting our faith in God, dismissing fears of survival and understanding how transient worldly wealth is.  I want to know what TRUE WEALTH is.