In Jesus’ day, employers required a specific level of earnings for which their steward was responsible. Profits which exceeded the preset amount became the property of the steward.
Tax collectors bid for their job using that same system and the tax collectors were so notoriously dishonest in cheating both their neighbors and Rome that they were the reason for the census taking place at the time of Jesus’ Birth.
The rich man called the steward and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’”
The steward said to himself, “What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? There is too much proof against me. I cannot deny the charges.”
“I am not strong enough to dig.” I lack the capabilities for other employment.”
“I am ashamed to beg.”
The dishonest steward had left himself with nowhere to turn.
Jesus is using a dishonest steward to teach a very important lesson about the true practicality of the faith, ethics, and morality taught in The Word of God. And so, we see a plan begin to form in the dishonest steward’s mind. “I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.”
Everything in life grows out of that one great Truth about God’s Love and our Salvation. We are blessed with the responsibility of being stewards of everything in this created universe including our very lives and, thankfully, we have God’s Word to guide us there too.
When the bottom fell out of his life, the dishonest steward wisely realized he had to re-evaluate his priorities. He was still selfish and self-centered, but he now realized how impractical his greed, dishonesty, and total trust in material things had been and where they were leading him.
Everything we have in this created world is a tool – a God-given tool. And how abundant those tools are! This universe has existed more centuries than we can accurately count – and the scientists are still discovering and developing new tools God placed here in the beginning. We are the stewards of those God-given tools.
Summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, “How much do you owe my master?” He said, “A hundred measures of oil.” And he said, “Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.” Then he said to another, “And how much do you owe?” He said, “A hundred measures of wheat”. He said to him, “Take your bill and write eighty.”
Remember under the financial system of that day, what the steward was taking off the bills was his own ill-gotten inflated commission.
He realized those material resources were not a foundation for his lifestyle but tools that needed to be used and invested in honest relationships – beginning with the people he had used and cheated to get where he thought he was headed.
He visited the debtors and offered to cut the amount of their bills with a more honest calculation of product weights – not because of a new commitment to honesty – not because he was trying to relieve a hurting conscience - not because of some new commitment to serve and deal honestly with his neighbors – but rather because the lifestyle and morality in God’s Word works better than any other way of life. His dishonesty had not only been immoral – but impractical.
And therein lies that message Jesus delivers through the dishonest steward. It is a lesson many in the media, many in political action groups, many other molders of public opinion and even many church leaders have failed to learn. How often we hear them say how impractical and out of date God’s Word is! How wrong they are!
Jesus’ lesson is quite simple. THE WORD OF GOD IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE IS THE MOST PRACTICAL WORD. No new social order – no new morality – no life that is not under God - works as well as The Word of God. THE WORD OF GOD IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE IS THE MOST PRACTICAL WORD.
In Jesus’ parable,the dishonest steward was still selfish and self-centered – but he now realized those material resources in which he placed his ultimate trust and for which he was willing to do anything to possess were mere tools – God-given tools which work best when used in accordance with The Word of God.
The Word of God is the most practical Word even for a selfish and self-centered sinner. Look what is happening to America and to the world as the world moves further and further away from The Truth of God’s Word.
The dishonest steward was not yet a kind, loving, or compassionate man. He was certainly not a man who was honest for the sake of truth and justice. Nor was he a man trying to do God’s Will. The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence – that is, for his ability to recognize what works and what doesn’t work in this world of God’s Creation.
Contrary to what atheists, agnostics, and moral relativists would like everyone to believe, THE HOLY BIBLE is not some pie-in-the-sky, fantasy approach to life. Far from it! There is nothing in this world that is more practical than what has been given to us in God’s Word. God never gave us The Love Commands, the structure of the human family, The Ten Commandments, or the teachings in The Sermon on The Mount as “ivory tower pictures of the way a utopian society might look”. Quite the contrary! What God is so faithfully and lovingly giving us is the most practical guidance this imperfect world has ever seen. Just look at the state our world is in every time we take God’s Word too skeptically and our faith in God too lightly.
And there’s so much more. Jesus continued, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in unrighteous mammon – in matters of this world – who will entrust to you the true riches of God’s eternal Kingdom?
Offering us the most precious and practical ethical and moral teachings, how much more does God offer to those who not only trust the perfect wisdom of God’s Word but believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
When we use God’s Word as a mirror in which to view our lives and discover that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, God enters our world as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to suffer and die for our sins. While we are yet sinners Christ dies for us – and continues to show us The Way – and to be The Way now and eternally.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS - OUR LORD, OUR SAVIOUR, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. AMEN.
18th Sunday of Trinity Season
September 23, 2018
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio