Lord Jesus while teaching about righteous living narrated a parable of an unjust steward to His disciples. Apparently a rich man’s manager had been misusing his authority and the report reached his master, who sought details of all dealing while giving notice of termination to the manager. This unjust man evaluated his future prospects and decided to use his position to ensure future comforts by giving a financial advantage to the debtors by asking them to rewrite the books to reduce the debts owed to the master. On coming to know of this “the master commended the unjust steward for acting shrewdly” while comparing the people of the age to the righteous. Jesus then goes on to advise the listeners to use the given resources for winning friends for the future eternal life. But He cautions them about God’s judgement that one who is not trustworthy in handling a little privilege will not be entrusted with greater responsibilities while further warning about handling the given assets of others wisely to seek some for themselves.
This is one of the difficult to understand parables since it first appears that Jesus is endorsing dishonest business practices by commending the unjust man who cheats on his master to give undue advantage to the clients and even his master accepting this act. The important points highlighted in the parable relate to the issue of ownership and propriety both. All that we have is of God and we as mere custodians of that are supposed to use these gifts to do good to others to be commended by the Master who appreciates and rewards such use. We are thus advised to use all gifts from God for serving Him and to teach others about His ways and secondly to use these for the service of “our neighbor”.
From a worldly business point the teaching refers – firstly, to develop enough trustworthy employees who willingly inform you of any wrongdoing. Secondly, the action of the manager conveyed to the debtors that the owner is rewarding them for their good business practices. The master could either tell them the truth and reveal his own weakness of management or keep silent, accept their gratitude and let the manager escape. Thirdly, Jesus commends the servant for recognizing the generosity of the master in not punishing him while providing him an opportunity to get something of greater value with eternal benefits.
The basic principle enunciated in the parable is of “how much more” can the master bless us if we serve Him and use His gifts wisely for His glory and good of His creation. Once we become aware of the love of God how much more honestly should we deal with others of this world to make them experience the same love through us. For each one of us is a sojourner here on earth but we are busy collecting wealth and riches without knowing who will gather them. We are to surrender ourselves to Divine authority and adopt service practices ensuring optimal utilization of our given gifts- financial, social and spiritual to benefit others.