Have you noticed that the people of this world are often wiser in the ways of this world than Christians? Jesus told a parable that shows the necessity of understanding our world and using the things of this world for a spiritual advantage.

ROBERT >> Good morning, and thank you for joining us today on The Truth In Love. Have you ever noticed how it seems the world is more wise and shrewd in using what they have to accomplish their worldly purposes than we as Christians are with what we have to accomplish the purposes of God? Well, stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Today we’re going to talk about another parable of Jesus. This time, the unjust steward. Now, this parable of Jesus is only recorded by Luke, and so we’ll be looking together in Luke chapter 16. And I want you to notice how this parable is connected with the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son, as well as the story of the rich man and Lazarus. If you’ll look in Luke chapter 15, you’ll see the story of the lost sheep and the coin and that prodigal son. But then after chapter 16 verses 1 through 8, after we read the parable of the unjust steward, we have the rich man and Lazarus. So it’s in between these two parables that we find Jesus speaking about the unjust steward. And you’ll notice that Jesus is speaking directly to his disciples. And yet the audience of this message was much greater. It also included the tax collectors and the sinners and the Pharisees and the scribes.

If you look back in Luke 15:1-2, it says, “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” That’s where he gives the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. But just following that is where he brings in this parable of the unjust steward.

Those still listening there in chapter 15 are listening here in chapter 16. And then we look over in chapter 16 verse 1, and it says, He also said to His disciples. And in verse 14 of that chapter, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.” And so we see that Jesus was speaking to many people on this occasion. And he speaks to us today if we’re listening.

Let’s notice today that Jesus tells the parable, and then he uses it to teach a very important lesson. Let’s first read it, and then we’ll discuss it, and then we’ll consider the lesson from Jesus that follows this parable.

The parable is actually recorded in Luke 16:1-8. Let’s read it together. “He also said to His disciples, There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So 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. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, How much do you owe my master? And he said, A hundred measures of oil. So 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? So he said, A hundred measures of wheat. And he said to him, Take your bill, and write eighty. So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”

You’ll notice in this parable of Jesus that there was a steward. And a steward is someone who’s been entrusted with or given charge of that which belongs to another. So the steward here was responsible for the rich man’s goods.

Well, what did the rich man hear about his steward?

He heard that the steward was being wasteful, and so he was going to do something about it, and he called his steward to account.

But what then was the steward’s immediate thought?

He didn’t really know what he was going to do.

Did you see there in verse 3?

Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? For my master is taking away the stewardship from me. Sometimes we find ourselves not being responsible, and then we don’t know what to do when we get in trouble for it. And that was the case here with this steward. He didn’t know what he was going to do.

Now, there were two options that he dismissed, he didn’t really want to do. He couldn’t dig. I mean, he really wasn’t someone who had been doing that kind of thing. And besides, he might have been a little too weak or a little too lazy.

Was there no other work, we must have thought?

On the other hand, he also didn’t want to beg. He’d be ashamed to beg. But he wasn’t ashamed of his poor stewardship. He wasn’t ashamed of his fraudulent plans to further abuse his master that we read about here, how he resolved to go out to those who owed his master.

Look what he decided to do here. He reduced the debts of his master’s creditors, that they might be indebted to him.

If you’ll look at the first debtor here that’s mentioned, you’ll notice he reduced the debt by 50 percent here in verse 6. “He said, A hundred measures of oil, and he said to him, take your bill and sit down quickly and write fifty.”

He owed a hundred measures of oil. That’s about 800 gallons. That’s the yield of about 146 olive trees. That’s a thousand denarii, or about 170 dollars, a large amount in those days particularly, since a daily wage for a working man was only one denarius according to Matthew 20:22. And then the second debtor, he reduced 20 percent.

We see that here in verse 7. “He said to another, And how much do you owe? And so he said, A hundred measures of wheat. And he said to him, Take your bill and write eighty.”

And so he owed a hundred measures of wheat. That’s about 500 bushels, the yield of 100 acres, about 2500 denarii, about 425 dollars. When the master realized what the steward was doing, look how he reacted.

Read again with me in verse 8. “So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. The master reacted in this way, commending the steward for his shrewdness.”

Now, why do you suppose the master would commend his steward?

Well, he commended him because he was shrewd, because he had this foresight in preparing for his future.

He was quite astute, wasn’t he?

I would say that this was a person that was intelligent and clever and perceptive and wise and prudent, that is, in accomplishing the purpose that he wanted accomplished. Maybe his purpose was not good, fraudulently denying his master these things; but certainly here was one who was shrewd in acting in this situation.

Now, the important thing for us to see is Jesus’ lesson from this parable. Let’s read on a little bit further, and let’s notice here some things about how Jesus comments on this parable.

First of all, let me just ask, does Jesus condone the steward’s dishonest conduct?

Of course not.

You’ll notice here in verse 8 again that the “master commended the unjust steward.” The master calls him unjust. And Jesus then recognized that what he’s doing is not fair, it’s not right. He certainly doesn’t condone the steward’s dishonest conduct. But what observation does Jesus make about the sons of this world like that unjust steward, and the sons of light, like those of us who ought to be following Christ?

Look at the end of verse, and we see these comments from Jesus. “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”

Jesus points out that the worldly are sometimes more prudent in preparing for their futures than the spiritual. It’s sad, isn’t it, when they’re more diligent, they’re more resourceful in serving the world than we are in serving God?

I have this quote from Plummer, a commentary. He says, If an unrighteous steward was commended by his earthly master for his prudence in providing for his future by fraudulent use of what had been committed to him, how much more will a righteous servant be commended by his heavenly master for providing for eternity by good use of what has been committed to him?

I think Plummer well summarizes the great lesson that Jesus is trying to make here with this parable.

And let’s notice the meaning of Jesus’ admonition then that would follow this great lesson in verse 9. “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.”

What is Jesus saying here in verse 9?

Jesus is teaching us to use our material means to accomplish good, that we might reap eternal benefits. This idea of the things of this world and the greater spiritual things is something we must always keep in mind as Christians. And I want to read a couple other places where Jesus addresses this very issue. For example, let’s go to Matthew 6:19-21. In his great Sermon on the Mount, he deals with this idea of the things of the world.

Here he says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jesus reminds us that the things of this world, they’re going to pass. But there is something that’s going to last. And that’s what we need to be most interested in.

Look at 1 Timothy 6:17-19, because here the apostle Paul tells Timothy how to preach to those who are rich. And he has a great warning for them. He does not condemn them for being rich, but for how they use their riches.

In verse 17 he says, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

Money is necessary in our living out our life here on this earth; but we understand that there’s something far greater that we ought to really live for. In the parable of Jesus, he speaks of money and the things of this world as unrighteous mammon because it’s often associated with evil.

In fact, here in 1 Timothy 6:10, the apostle Paul also told Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

And so we need to recognize the dangers of money, lest we fall in love with it and all it can buy. We also need to recognize how to invest it wisely. And that’s what Jesus was emphasizing in this parable. Use your monies to help progress the gospel of Jesus Christ, to help build up and edify the church, to do acts of benevolence for those in need, to help others towards heaven. That’s our mission as God’s people. And when we do that, we’ll be greeted by many friends into heaven. And so Jesus is telling us to be more wise than that unjust steward, to use the things we have for God’s glory.

What does Jesus tell us about faithfulness in stewardship?

Look at verses 10 through 13 of Luke chapter 16, and let’s see his words that follow here. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”

Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Jesus tells us here it is required, this stewardship, this faithfulness in stewardship is required whether we have little or whether we have much. It’s required with our material things as well as our spiritual blessings. It is required with another’s goods if we’re in charge of those or the stewardship we have over our own things.

In 1 Corinthians 4:2 the apostle Paul reminds us of our stewardship. And here he’s particularly interested in the stewardship of the gospel which God has placed in the hands of his church. “Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. We must be faithful with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be faithful with all that we have that God has blessed us with so that we do not lose it and so that we may receive more.”

Do you remember Jesus’ words back in Matthew chapter 25 in another parable? Here in chapter 25 and verse 21 he said, “His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you rule ever over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” And then in verse 29 of this parable, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

You cannot be faithful to God and receive his reward if you don’t use wisely the things that you have. And you cannot faithfully serve two masters at the same time.

It’s impossible for us to be serving God as our master and money at the same time, because so often those two conflict one another. We must make God our master, and we must be a possessor of our possessions and not be possessed by them.

Colossians 3:5 gives us this strong warning: Covetousness, or greed, is idolatry. We have made money and the things it can buy our god instead of the one true and living God.

Well, now I want you to notice back in Luke chapter 16, how did the Pharisees react to Jesus’ teaching?

And what does Luke tell us about them that explains why they acted this way?

Look at verse 14, Luke chapter 16. “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.”

They sneered at Jesus.

Why? Because they were covetous. But in what way may the parable then be applicable to the Pharisees? And I think we’ll see that the Pharisees were certainly in view in this parable.

If you’ll look with me, you’ll notice in verses 15 through 18 how he draws them into this. “ And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

Were the Pharisees faithful stewards?

No. What were they entrusted with?

They were entrusted with the law, the law of Moses. They were entrusted with the people of God, Israel.

Why did they do what they did?

To keep their power and to keep their position. You’ll notice here that Jesus calls them to account for not being faithful to their stewardship to God as leaders of this people, for reducing the standards of the law, like divorce and remarriage, to make friends of the people so they could keep their positions and keep their power instead of making preparation to receive the kingdom of heaven and the Messiah that had now come. So how would we sum up Jesus’ lesson from the parable of the unjust steward?

Let me sum it up this way: Be wise to faithfully use what you have been given by God to prepare for eternity, because we’ll all one day give account to him.

Romans 14:12, the Bible says each one of us shall give account of himself unto God. That’ll be me and that will be you. So what have you done with what God has given you? Right now, we all have time, and we have opportunity to get our hearts right with God. God is longsuffering, not wishing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. God is patiently waiting for each one of us to turn our hearts and our lives over to him, to live our lives for him, to continue to trust in him.

If you’ve never become a Christian, you have opportunity now. You’ve heard the word. And do you not know what Christ has done for you to pay for your sins in giving himself at Calvary, and how that he rose again the third day to give us hope and assurance of eternal life? Putting your faith in him, turn away from your sins today, confess him as the Son of God, and be immersed into Christ for the remission of your sins so that you can begin that new life. And you can use your life then as a good steward, preparing for all of eternity.

Thank God that he’s made a way for us through Jesus Christ. He’s made a way for you and for me. Let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.

SINGING>> On Zion’s glorious summit stood
a numerous host redeemed by blood.
They hymned their king in strains divine.
I heard the song and strove to join.
I heard the song and strove to join.
While everlasting ages roll,
eternal love shall feast their soul.
And scenes of bliss forever new
rise in succession to their view,
rise in succession to their view.
Holy,
holy, holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Who like me
thy praise should sing,
oh almighty king?
Holy, holy,
holy Lord.
God of hosts on high adored.
Holy, holy, holy.

SINGING>> All hail the power of Jesus’ name,
let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem
and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem
and crown him Lord of all.
Oh, that with yonder sacred throng
we at his feet may fall.
We’ll join the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all.

ROBERT >> Thank you for watching our program today. God help us to be good stewards of what we have as we prepare for eternity. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you’d like more information about the lesson today, or if you would like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write us at The Truth In Love, P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv.

Or call or our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

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Remember that all of our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven,
sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me
it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long, sing to me of heaven,
sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.