Many get confused about the message in today’s Gospel. Jesus seemed to praise a dishonest steward who misused his employer's money. What did the steward do that made Jesus praise him?
Before the news of his dismissal became public knowledge, the shrewd steward struck a deal with his master's debtors. In discounting their debts, he probably was giving up his generous commission. Such a deal won him great favor with the debtors. Since the steward acted as the landowner's agent, such a deal also made his master look very generous and forgiving towards those who owed him money. Since the master could not undo the steward's cancellation of the debts without losing face and making his debtors resent him, he praised the steward for outwitting him and making him appear as a generous and merciful landowner.
What's the point of Jesus' parable? The dishonest steward is commended not for mishandling his master's wealth, but for his shrewd provision in averting personal disaster and in securing his future livelihood. The original meaning of "shrewdness" is "foresight". A shrewd person grasps a critical situation with resolution, foresight, and the determination to avoid serious loss or disaster.
Jesus is concerned here with something more critical than a financial or economic crisis. His concern is that we avert spiritual crisis and personal moral disaster through the exercise of faith and foresight. If Christians would only expend as much foresight and energy to spiritual matters, which have eternal consequences, as they do to earthly matters which have temporal consequences, then they would be truly better off, both in this life and in the age to come.
True wealth consists not in what we keep but in what we give away. Possessions are a great responsibility. The Lord expects us to use them honestly and responsibly and to put them at his service and the service of others. We belong to God and all that we have is his as well. He expects us to make a good return on what he gives us.
Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
Do you make good use of your money and possessions?