In my opinion, this story has two very powerful spiritual principles that God wants us to get a hold of. These two principles are spelled out at the end of this passage.
I'll go ahead and state the main parts of these verses, highlight the key principles to grab a hold of and then give you my opinion on what these principles are and how they apply to your life.
The Scripture Verse
This verse is Jesus talking with His disciples. This verse is from Luke 16:1-13 and it is titled the "Parable of the Unjust Steward."
"And 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 shrewder in their generation than the sons of the light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
"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 unrighteousness 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."
Interpretation of the Unjust Steward
Jesus gives a very interesting parable about the relationship between the rich master and his steward. Apparently the steward is not properly handling his master's goods so the rich master is threatening to take away all that he is a "steward" over.
The steward then apparently cooks up a scheme to get what he can out of some people who owe his master some goods. The rich master then commends the steward for what he has just done because he acted "shrewdly."
Jesus then apparently labels this "transaction" as "unrighteous mammon." Mammon means "riches." So apparently this rich master and "unjust steward" were in agreement in the way they conducted their "business." Jesus then makes the comment that the sons of the "world" are shrewder than the sons of the "light."
This statement would line up with the "business world" as we know it. Good businessmen are known for their "shrewdness" in being able to make money and "good" business deals. Corporate America is known for their ruthlessness in making money even if it means hurting others in the process. We all know how that works.
Jesus compares them with His children of the "light" which would mean Christians. Christians are bound by "higher principles" and they better be acting on better morals than their "heathen" business partners or they will have to answer to God when they face judgment after they die.
Good Christian businessmen can still make a nice profit and not run over and unjustly hurt people in the process. It's all how you "play" the game.
Now here are the 2 key principles that Jesus brings to light off of this parable.
Jesus is using a parable involving "unrighteousness" between the rich master and his steward. The fact that He calls their transaction "unrighteous mammon" and the steward "unjust" proves that point. However, even in this unjust transaction that just took place, there is still a few lessons to be learned.
God gives all of us chances to be "stewards." We are stewards over every blessing God has given us. Parents are "stewards" over their children. Your house, your car, your jobs, your earthly possessions are all things that you are stewards over. What God is doing with all of this is watching how you manage your "goods" just like the rich master did with his unjust steward. And just as the rich master threatened to take away from his steward all of the goods he was watching over, God can arrange to take away some of our "goods" if we do not "max out" with what has been given to us.
In order to get promoted in God's realm to the next "level," you have to "max out" with what He has already given you. If God has you in a certain job for a certain time, He expects you to do the best you can while doing that job. If you don't, you risk losing God promoting you to the next level when it is time for your promotion. I believe a lot of Christians miss out on God's best for their lives because they don't max out on what God has already given them.
If God has given you a nice house, a nice car and some nice possessions, I feel He expects you to take good care of these possessions. Keep your house in halfway decent order. If you don't, God will have no desire to give you any additional blessings because you have not properly taken care of the blessings that He already has given to you.
Jesus makes a very interesting comment about stewardship in general. He says that "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." In other words, God has found out that he who does well and "maxes out" with what little he has at the beginning will also do well and continue to "max out" if he is given a lot more!
And just the opposite is also true. He who is "unjust" in small matters, is also going to be "unjust" in bigger matters. That person thus cannot be trusted to be allowed to have anything else and not even "heathen business men," much less God Himself, is going to trust this type of individual with any additional goods or possessions.
After studying the lives of a lot of great men and women in God over the last 10 years, I found something very interesting that would illustrate the above points. God has started most of these people at the "bottom of the ladder." He'll start them out with just enough money to get by, just enough provisions to live on and then sit back and watch how they do with what He starts them out with.
All the people who have become "successful" in their walk with God all "maxed out" with what God started them out with. These are called "small beginnings." Because they maxed out on level one with God, God then saw fit to promote then to the next "level." And then the same scenario repeats itself. God once more sits back and watches how they do with what is given to them on level two. And if they pass that "test," they are promoted to level three.
That is how you keep moving up God's "promotion ladder" - by maxing out on what God has given you at that level. And this is where a lot of Christians blow it big time with God. They do not realize they are being "tested" by God on the level that they are at. God will watch how you handle what He has given you at the level that you are at. And if you do not properly handle and max out with what He has given you, there will be no promotion and you will stay "stuck" where you are at until you get what God is trying to tell you to do. God will "play you" to see what you are made of!!!
This principle not only works in God's realm, but it also works in the "natural business" realm as pointed out by the above parable. Not only will God keep you being from promoted due to "bad stewardship," but so will the "world" in general. Thus you have multitudes of people who never seem to get this principle. They think the world owes them a living and they cannot figure out why no one wants to hire them or trust them with any possessions or goods. They spend the rest of their lives in poverty thinking that it's the rest of the world and not them.
Bottom for all Christians - if you want promotions from God to higher levels of service, bigger and better blessings, etc. - then max out on the level that you are currently at with God right now. Do the best you can at the job you are currently working at. Keep your house and material possessions clean and in order. These material possessions are really blessings from God and He expects you to appreciate and take care of what has been "given" to you. If you do, you will create an incredible desire in God to want to promote you to the next level and bless you with more blessings.
There are enough verses in the Bible that show that God does have an "abundant" side to Him and that He can release abundant type blessings your way - but He will not do it unless you have already proven yourself to Him on the lower levels. He will not go into the abundant blessing mode with you unless He knows that you can handle abundant type blessings - just like the above parable is illustrating.
He will test you and prove you first to see if you can handle it before releasing any type of "abundance" to you. That is why most Christians are not really blessed with any real serious "abundance." They are either not maxing out at the level that they are at with God, or they simply do not have what it takes to handle abundance - especially abundant amounts of money.
2. Who Will You Serve?
Jesus ends this parable with what I feel is the 2nd major principle and idea to grab a hold of. He says:
"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."
The above parable is illustrating an "unrighteous transaction" between two businessmen - the rich master and his steward. The last sentence in the above verse speaks volumes! Each Christian must decide who they will serve - God or mammon (which means riches).
Do you decide what you are going to be when you "grow up" or do you let God decide? Do you decide whom you should marry, or do you let God decide? Do you let God lead and control your life or do you decide how you will lead your life?
There is only one way for each Christian to properly live this life and that is under a "full surrender to God the Father" Everything goes on His altar. He wants total control of your life so He can "max you out" with whatever His desire and will is for your life.
He knows best who you should marry - you don't. He knows what you would be best at when you "grow up", you don't. His knowledge is perfect - yours is not. He knows how to perfectly get you from point a to point b - you do not. He can pave the way ahead of you to prepare for your next steps, you cannot. He can protect you and prolong your life if He wants to, you cannot.
That is why Jesus says in the Bible "without Me, you can do nothing." He is the vine - the tree trunk, we are the branches. We have to totally depend and lean on Him, not on our own understanding and what we think is right. The Bible says that those who are led by the Holy Spirit are the true sons of God. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to lead us - but He will not lead us unless we give God the Father a complete and unconditional full surrender of our bodies, souls, spirits and our entire lives into His hands.
The Bible says that with the measure we use, will be the measure that will be measured back to us. In other words, if we give God 50%, He will only give us 50%. But if we give him 100%, then God will come back and give us His 100%. And to get God's 100% in our lives, we have to fully surrender every aspect of our life over to Him so we can "free" Him up to work with His 100%.
But here is the hardest part - especially for "American Christians." We live in the most blessed country in the entire world. We are the richest and most abundantly blessed country in the world. Very intelligent Christians know that all the "wealth" is there for the "taking." All they have to do is figure out what their strengths are, figure out the appropriate strategies to get the wealth and then go for it. Some do it legitimately and others do it illegitimately breaking all the rules of society to get their wealth.
But the Christian is faced with a dilemma. Do I turn my life over to God and let Him decide what He wants to do with my life or do I make my own decisions and pursue and go after what I want and what I think is best for me?
A lot of Christians are really "afraid" to let God make these choices. They are afraid of letting go of the "American dream" because they feel they will have a "better life" if they make their own choices as versus letting God make the choices Himself. They know that abundant wealth may not be in God's plan for them.
God may call them to be a missionary over in China working for "pennies." God obviously does not bless everyone with abundant material wealth. These people know they have the "smarts" to get that abundant wealth because our society is setup for the more intelligent people to get this wealth.
That is why Jesus is saying in the above parable that you cannot serve both God and mammon, both God and riches. You have to make a choice. Do I surrender my life to God and go with His "call" on my life or do I make my "own call," go after what I want and try to become stinking rich. The natural businessman is obviously going to go for calling all of his own shots. And he may just succeed in acquiring vast amounts of wealth before he dies.
However, when he dies, not one ounce, not one penny, not one amount of material possession will go with him into the next life. He takes nothing with him. He will then face God for judgment and God will "reward" him for what he "accomplished in God" while down here on earth.
So who do you think is going to get the greatest rewards in heaven - the Christian businessman who became wealthy calling his own shots and doing his own thing, or the Christian who fully surrendered his life to God and completed God's mission and purpose for his life?
The answer is obvious. I will be doing another article on the rewards that are available for believers when they cross over into heaven. There are some Scripture verses that a lot of Christians are not aware of regarding how God is going to specifically reward you by what you accomplish for Him while down here on earth.
The time we spend down here is not even the "blink of an eye" compared to the "time" we will spend in heaven. Our time in heaven is for eternity. Our time spent down here is just for a "moment" compared to the eternal time that is operating up in heaven.
The Bible tells us to lay up treasures in heaven where the moths cannot eat them. These treasures are the good works that you do for God while down here on earth. If you fully surrender your life to God and go with His "call" on your life, then everything you do and accomplish down here will be good treasure that will be "stored" up in heaven and God will reward you accordingly once you enter into heaven. Good treasures stored up in heaven are also the good and loving relationships you establish with people down here who will be joining you up in heaven.
Remember, you take none of your material possessions with you when you cross over - but all of your Christian friends that you have developed good friendships with will be crossing over with you - and the friendships you have established down here will last for eternity up in heaven. Your material possessions, your titles and your trophies will not.
To the intelligent American Christian businessman, I ask you - whom will you serve? God and the call that He wants to put on your life to do His will or your own call doing what you think is in your own best interests?
The Bible tells you where the real reward will lie. Jesus says in the Bible what good does it do a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul in the process. Jesus plainly says at the end of the above parable that you cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and your own call and your own goals for your life. If you try and do both, you will end up as Jesus is saying, loving the one but hating the other. You cannot have it both ways. It will tear you apart trying to live in both "realms."
You may have to sacrifice "fame and riches" by going with God's call on your life but you will much happier in the long run, more fulfilled and more highly "rewarded" once you enter into heaven. And those rewards will be for eternity. The wealth and riches you would gain down here are but just for a moment and will be gone forever once you die.
I'll leave you with one "classic statement" made in Scripture on all of the above. One of the most powerful stories in the entire Bible is the story of Joshua. He doesn't get much publicity because his story comes right after the story of Moses. But Joshua was the one who led the Israelites into the Promised Land.
He "wholeheartedly followed God" and was the first leader to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and defeat and conquer the enemies that were on the land that they were to possess. His story is one of the most powerful stories in the Bible about someone who "did it right" in God's call on his life.
He made a classic statement that each Christian should grab and get a hold of. He said:
"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)
He was so "successful in God," that one of the books in the Bible was named after him - "The Book of Joshua."
God and Jesus have made it as clear as they possibly could in Their Word that there is only one way to live the rest of your allotted time down here on earth - and that is under a full surrender to God the Father. Let God place the call or calls that He wants on your life and I guarantee you that you will never ever regret the most important decision that you will ever make in this life.
Article written by Michael Bradley of Bible Knowledge Ministries. Their website is a resource of Bible Knowledge, articles, commentary and teaching. They currently have over 100