Luke 16:1-13: The Parable of the Dishonest Steward
‘Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ (Matt. 19:24)
‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ (Luke 12:15)
‘As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.’ (Matt. 13:22)
‘Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.’ (Col. 3:5)
‘But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.’ (1 Tim. 6:9-10).
The Bible has a lot to say about our love of money. One commentator points out that nearly 1/3 of the parables deal with money. The parable that we are dealing with today, the parable of the unfaithful steward/manager is one of those, Luke 16:1-13.
This has been said to be one of the most difficult parables to understand. Ordinarily parables are easy to grasp as they speak through familiar images about spiritual truths. This one stands out as being different in that Jesus appears to be condoning the dishonesty of the steward. At first it sounds like He is encouraging the pursuit of unrighteous mammon, and appears to speak approvingly of shady business dealings. I remember as a young Christian really struggling with this parable. But be at peace Jesus is not condoning or encouraging any form of greed or corruption. He is comparing the wise and dedicated pursuit of the greedy for the things of this life to the half-hearted desire that we have and the preparations we make for our own spiritual futures. It is not the dishonesty but the dedication and commitment that are being highlighted. It is often the case that we who walk by faith are put to shame by those who walk by sight and according to the flesh. We who have the truth are often outdone by those who believe lies.
It appears that a large part of chapter 16 has money in mind. V1-13 is the parable of the unjust steward and principles around faithfulness with possessions. In v14-17, those who love money ridicule Christ to which He responds, and then the parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a commentary on the sins and punishments of the rich
The portion before us divides into 2 sections. First, we have the parable itself calling us to be more dedicated in our pursuit and preparation of spiritual things. Secondly, we have a number of principles which outline some ways to be faithful stewards.