Do you think there is at least a one percent chance that you are going to stand before God after you die? If so, the wisest thing you can do is to start preparing for that event. That is the theme of Jesus’ parable in Luke 16:1-13.
Jesus says that as Christians we should be just as shrewd, astute, and calculating in the handling of our resources as unbelievers are. Our present resources, time, abilities, and money can be used to prepare for our future in Heaven.
In biblical times it was common for a wealthy person to hire a steward to manage all of his affairs (Luke 16:1). In our culture people like movie stars or athletes have business managers, people who keep up with all of a client’s financial dealings.
Such an arrangement is helpful, as long as your manager or steward is honest. This steward was dishonest. He was guilty of “squandering” his master’s possessions, so his master calls him out, asks for an explanation, and then asks the steward to take time to get the master’s affairs in order before leaving his position as steward (Luke 16:2-3).
The steward again acted dishonestly. As long as he was the steward, he had control over all of his master’s “accounts receivable.” The way he could make friends was to discount what these people owed his master substantially. They would, in turn, be grateful to the steward and possibly be willing to hire him (Luke 16:5-7).
Scripture says the master praised the unrighteous steward for how he handled himself (Luke 16:8). This does not mean he was happy about what the steward had done. The master commended his shrewdness. In fact, Jesus went on to say, the steward was wiser than many Christians (Luke 16:8).
Jesus is not commending dishonesty. He is simply saying that many times non-Christians manage their resources more shrewdly than Christians because they look ahead, they act with foresight.
If anyone should be a good manager of resources it should be a Christian. The steward’s actions show us the keys to shrewdly using the resources God has given us, whether they be money, talents, or time.
1. The steward viewed the future realistically.
Once caught, he realized his time was very short before he had to give an accounting. But instead of becoming panicked, this crisis allowed him to honestly assess his situation.
I am always amazed how few people are really able to think clearly, especially about eternity. We refuse to face the certainty of our own mortality and the coming judgment. But the Word of God says it is appointed unto every man once to die and then the judgment.
The first step of good stewardship with our money, time, thoughts, and abilities is to view the future realistically, realizing the brevity of our time here and the certainty of judgment.
2. The steward made preparation for the future.
Not only did this man intellectually believe that judgment day was coming, he believed it enough to do something about it. He started making preparation for his future by wisely using his present resources.
The true test of your faith is whether you believe enough to make a change in your behavior right now (1 Timothy 6:18-19). Are you willing to readjust the way you spend your money and your time in order to make God’s kingdom the priority of your life?
3. The steward acted quickly.
Once this steward saw his future realistically, he not only made provision for his future, but he did so quickly. Any moment he would find himself on the street and he wanted to be ready.
In the same way none of us has any time to lose. None of us knows the day of our death, but it is a fixed time in God’s calendar. That is why we must, right now, be making provision for the future.
As Christ’s disciples, we are not headed to a deserted island but to God’s house. Yet, the preparations we make here follow us there. If we are shrewd, there will be eternal friends and eternal rewards to greet us. Fools serve money and leave it all behind. Shrewd believers serve God and invest in eternity.