The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

In his book of sermons “The Living Faith,” Lloyd C. Douglas tells the story of Thomas Hearne, who, in his journey to the mouth of the Coppermine River, wrote that a few days after they had started on their expedition, a party of Indians stole most of their suppli … More


We could title these verses, “The proper use of Money.” Our use of money is a good test of the lordship of Christ. Money can be a wonderful servant but a terrible master. We must remember that the love of money is still “the root of all kinds of evil” (I Tim. 6:10). The steward referred to here does not own the wealth himself, but he has the privilege of enjoying it and using it for the profit of his master. However, he forgets that he is a steward and begins to act as if he is the owner and wastes his master’s wealth. When his master hears about this, he immediately asks for an inventory and an audit of the books (vv. 1-2).

Before we judge this man too severely, we need to take inventory of our own lives to see how faithful we have been as stewards of what God has given to us. Many people think that all they need to do is give ten percent of their earnings to the Lord, and all the rest belongs to them to do with as they please. This is not what God’s word teaches. Heaven’s riches are far more valuable than earthly wealth. We are just as accountable for what we do with the other ninety percent as we are the ten percent. This stewardship not only includes our material wealth but it also includes our time (Eph. 5:15-17), our gifts, and abilities (I Pet. 4:10). We see this steward giving his masters’ creditors a generous discount if they will pay what they owe immediately (vv. 3-8). Jesus did not commend the steward for robbing his master but he did commend him for his wise use of opportunity (v. 8). Faithfulness is the key in stewardship (vv. 9-13). Money has the power to take God’s place in your life. It can become your master.


Like this steward, I will one day have to give an account of my stewardship (II Cor. 5:10). I must heed what Jesus says about the right and wrong use of material things.

Luke 16:1-13 (English Standard Version)

He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.' And the manager said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' He said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

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