Parable of the Unjust Steward
by Fr. Thomas Ninan, South Africa
Reference: Luke 16 : 9 – 18
Passage divided into 2 parts, namely vs. 9 – 13 and that from 14 – 18.
Vs 9 – 13: Is a part of the conversation concerning the parable of an unjust steward.
We understand a steward as a Caretaker, one who looks after on behalf of the Master, an in charge of the Master’s property (vs. Lk 19 :13).
Stewardship comes as a responsibility bestowed by God for the whole of mankind–as parents, as caretakers of this creation and particularly so for Christians as they represent the partakers of the Kingdom of God on earth.
What do we understand as the key responsibilities of a steward?
To what the Master desires and has bestowed upon the steward. It is not the outcomes God is worried about, but our attitude, our availability and the means we use in order to produce the desired outcomes. If we realize the truth that one cannot serve two masters at the same time, it will do us good to make an honest introspection about where we stand as Christians in our faithfulness towards our Lord. Someone once identified two significant types of people between the two extremes of faithfulness towards God and Mammon – this is the people who serve God for the soul purpose of making money and the people who think they can serve God only with money. Both are dangerous.
Constant awareness of responsibilities: no permanent ownership involved. Once we are fully aware of our responsibilities, we are expected to take certain risks, certain ethical decisions. There is often the freedom that we fail/ fear/miss to use as stewards, which at times could result in sin of omission. What are some of the obstacles that keep us away from the constant awareness about our responsibilities as stewards of God? What keeps us away from overcoming such obstacles?
Accountability: Lu 12 : 48; 19 : 15 : This determines the value we add to our stewardship role in this world. It is often quite easy to turn a blind eye to our accountability towards the unseen, silent God, to whom we don’t have to give an annual or a monthly report of our activities. At times we take God for granted in this regard and consider that we will be forgiven for our misgivings – no doubt that He is a God whose love is unconditional, but stewardship is something which God gives to us only because He knows we can do the tasks. There is forgiveness for the repentant but no excuse for those who would continue to misuse the freedom and expectations bestowed upon them by God. Accountability of a Christian is probably one of the most significant aspects of Christian witness in this world of a living, loving God. What are some of the things that we feel we need to be accountable about as stewards of God? What are our personal obstacles in keeping this accountability in our lives?
Sacred: 1 Tim. 6 : 20
As stewards, we are also called to keep our lives sacred. A sacred life is only possible if we are able to keep our faith as sacred. Sacred means free from any element of malignancy – this has a lot to do with the way we practice our religious life. Living out a sacred life is greatly influenced by the way we lead our prayer life. If our prayer life has nothing to do with our personal, social, professional life, though we may be regular in our prayers, it becomes a meaningless, and more a ritual exercise.
Diversity: Mt. 25 : 15
Our role as stewards depends largely on the diverse gifts we as individuals carry. Each of us as individuals made in God’s image are blessed with unique gifts which we are required to use. It also gives importance to the diverse responsibilities we carry in our lives as Christians namely, in our workplace, in Church, in our family as parent, spouse, brother/sister, son/daughter. None is more important than the other, we are required to give equal importance to each one of them.
Personal: Eze 18 : 20
The call for stewardship is personal in nature. It is a personal call as it has an impact and influence on every aspect of our lives.
Vs 14 – 18: Worldliness and Godliness
The verses 14–15 and 18 are sharp comments on the sort of lives we at times are tempted to lead in this deceptive world. Carnal, lovers of flesh, lovers of money, that which is regarded in high esteem in the eyes of men, these are brief descriptions of the sort of people Jesus is referring to here as meaningless in the sight of God. How easy it is for man to cling on to such pleasures, which are at best superficial and importantly deceptive. It deceives us away from what God would want us to be and by the time we realize the trap, we are often found weak enough to make a comeback. Many a times, the challenge comes as a very uncomfortable reality, like what the Pharisees felt (vs. 14) and our ego and sense of rationalization become the greatest barriers to overcome and make a comeback. Repentance at such times becomes next to impossible.
But what is impossible for man is definitely possible for God – the sweet assurance that Jesus gives. Here again, Jesus reveals the nature of God as “one who looks into the heart.” This not only means negating the outside appearance, but rather brings us closer to an understanding, loving, living God who listens to every sigh of the heart, who is sensitive to every inner move of the heart. Jesus gives so much importance to this change of heart when we read “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than the thousand others who do not need repentance.” This comes as a sweet assurance to us that though the world may not understand (the change in) us, though our near and dear ones refuse to accept (the change in) us, the arms of a loving, understanding God are wide open to embrace us, the lips of God are waiting to kiss us through the sacred body and blood of His Son. So take courage to take a more meaningful step in life by overcoming the carnal deceptions the world offers and take a deeper plunge towards imitating the beautiful personality of our Lord.
Rich Man and the Shrewd Manager by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil
Money is a good servant but a terrible master by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil
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