Luke 16:1-12 Then Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.'
Without comment Jesus offers a very straightforward observation. Dishonest managers loose their jobs. There may be others who would wish to take this and make any number of other points, but one had best be careful, because while it is true that honesty is the best policy, it really misses the point. For the point is that we are all managers, and not owners. Or to use the term we are more familiar with we are all stewards, and everything that fills our lives, all the things which we call ours, are not really ours, they are Godís. God owns everything, he might put things in our care for a time, but they are his.
What happens to stewards, who do not recognize the owner, or think to claim his goods? The owner sends an army and they are killed. But that is not the point. And the point is not that everything belongs to God, and the point is not just that we are all stewards. The point today turns on how do you use that which has been entrusted into your care. Do you use it wisely?
That is the first part of the question of what is it to be a good steward. It really doesnít matter what we are talking about, it could be almost anything, form how you take care of your toys or clothes or car or farm or houseÖ. If it isnít really yours, then it matters what you do, and you will be responsible for damage or neglect. Thatís why we learn not to throw our toys, and not just that, but also to put them away when we are done. But simply protecting things from damage or neglect is not enough. In the parable of the talents, the servant who had one talent kept it safe until his masters return, but was called a wicked servant because he didnít use it profitably.
Do we use those things which God has entrusted into our care profitably? But to answer this, we need to remember the simple question, whose profit? It is quite possible for God to entrust us with things, which we can use for our profit, but which are not viewed by God as profitable, and are in fact contrary to Godís will and Godís purpose. What do I mean? A jump rope is fine for jumping rope, but its not to be used to tie up your brother, or sister. A Car is fine for transportation, but its not for leaving black marks on the pavement.
But we still havenít gotten to the real point of stewardship. In the parable the dishonest steward use his potential profit shrewdly. Knowing that he would not be their to collect his commission, he forgave that debt to all his masters debtors, and in that way, when he lost his job, there would be many people who owned him a favor. And the master couldnít complain, because the debtors had received this partial forgiveness as a gift, and were grateful for the generosity both of the master and the manager.
Jesus uses this point to encourage us to use Godís gifts wisely and prudently, but also if possible shrewdly, not for our purpose or gain, but rather to advance Godís purpose and Godís kingdom. So we begin with an inventory Ė hereís what I have Ė but we conclude with seeking Godís will as to how we might use it best, to tell people about Jesus.
The problem about talking about being a good steward, is that if we are honest, we have to admit that we have not been good stewards, we deserve to loose our position. So, seeing our sin, we repent of our sin, we confess our sin, and we seek forgiveness in the blood of Jesus. Not that we deserve to be forgiven, but the good news is that God does have mercy on us for Jesus sake, and God does forgive us, and God gives us grace to change our old ways, and to begin to live in a new way, that is Godís way, following our Savior on the way to heaven.
Luke 16:11-12If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?