The Parable of the Dishonest Steward
by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
AT THIS TIME Jesus gave to his disciples the parable of "The Dishonest Steward." A steward is a man who takes care of any business or lands or houses belonging to another man who employs him. Jesus said:
"There was a rich man who had a steward who took charge of all his business. Some one told the rich man that his steward was cheating him and making a wrong use of his money. So the master sent for the steward and said:
"'What is this that I hear about you? Hand in your accounts, for you shall not be my steward any longer.'
"The steward was at first greatly troubled at this; and he did not know how he could live if his office as steward was taken away.
"'What shall I do,' he said to himself, 'now that my master is taking away from me my place as steward? I am not strong enough to dig in the ground as a farmer, and I am ashamed to beg in the streets. Oh, I know what I can do, so that when my office as steward is taken away the people will invite me to their homes to live with them.'
"One by one the steward called to him the men that were owing his master.
"'How much do you owe my master?' he asked of the first.
"'A hundred barrels of oil,' answered the man.
"'Here, take your bill,' said the steward, 'and instead of a hundred barrels, make it fifty barrels.'"
This, you see, was making a present to the man of fifty barrels of oil, but not from the steward himself; instead, stealing it from his master, to give to the man who owed him.
"Then to the next man he said, 'And how much do you owe?'
"'A hundred bushels of wheat,' answered the man.
"'Here is your bill,' said the steward; 'make it eighty.'
"And so he treated all those who were owing to his master, giving to each one a part of his debt; so that they would be friendly to him and give him help when he should need it.
"When his master heard of all this, he praised the steward, not for doing rightly, but for looking ahead and taking care for the time to come."
And Jesus said, "The people of this world often are wiser in looking ahead, and planning for the days to come, than are those who have the light of God. And I say to you: use the money of this world to make friends with it, not on earth, but in heaven; so that when you leave the earth, they may welcome you to homes in heaven that never pass away. He who is faithful with a small trust is also faithful with a large trust; and he who is not honest but tries to cheat in little things, will be dishonest and try to cheat in great things. So if you cannot be trusted with the money of this world, who will trust you with the riches of God?
And if you are not faithful with what belongs to another, how can you expect to have anything forever as your own?
"No servant can serve two masters at the same time; for either he will hate one master and love the other; or else he will stand by one master and despise the other. You cannot serve God and at the same time live for money."
All these things were spoken in the hearing of the Pharisees, who were fond of money and grasping. They listened, with contempt and scorn in their hearts.
Jesus knew what was in their minds, and he said to these Pharisees:
"You are the men who make people believe that you are good, but God sees and knows what is in your hearts. What is lofty in the sight of men is vile in the sight of God."