I was asked about the passage in Scripture on the Parable of the Unjust Steward. In my opinion, this story has two key pieces of revelation that God really wants us to grab a hold of. These two key pieces of revelation are clearly spelled out at the end of this passage.
I will go ahead and state the main parts of this verse, highlight the main principles to really key in on, and then give you my opinion as to what these two principles are all about and how they can apply to your life.
The Bible Verse
In this verse, Jesus is talking direct with His disciples. This verse is from the Gospel of Luke and it is titled the “Parable of the Unjust Steward.”
And He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’
“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So 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? So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’
“So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteousness mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
“And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:1-13)
There are two key pieces of revelation being given to us by the Lord in this parable that has major implications for each and every believer. I will discuss each of these two key pieces of revelation under the next caption.
Interpretation of the Unjust Steward
Jesus gives us a very interesting parable about the relationship between the rich master and his steward. Apparently the steward is not properly handling his master’s goods, so the rich master is threatening to take away all that he is a steward over.
The steward then apparently cooks up a scheme to get what he can out of some people who owe his master some goods. The rich master then commends the steward for what he has just done because he has acted shrewdly.
Jesus then labels this transaction as “unrighteous mammon.” Mammon means “riches.” So apparently this rich master and unjust steward were in agreement in the way they were conducting their business. Jesus then makes the comment that the sons of the world are more shrewd than the sons of light.
This statement would line up with the business world as we know it. Good businessmen are known for their shrewdness in being able to make money and good business deals. Many business men in Corporate America are known for their ruthlessness in making money, even if it means hurting and running over others in the process.
Jesus then compares them with His children of the light, which would be all born-again Christians. Christians are bound by higher principles with the Lord and thus better be acting on better morals than many of their heathen business partners. Good Christian business men can still make a nice profit and not run over and unjustly hurt other people in the process. It’s all how you play the game.
Jesus is using a parable involving unrighteousness between the rich master and his steward. The fact that He calls their transaction “unrighteous mammon” and the steward “unjust” proves this point.
However, even in this unjust transaction that just took place between these two men, there are still a few lessons to be learned.
God gives all of us a chance to be good stewards. We are stewards over every blessing God has given us. Parents are stewards over their children. Blessings from the Lord such as your house, your car, your job, your money, and the rest of your earthly possessions are all things that you are stewards over.
What God is doing with all of this is watching how well you manage your goods just like the rich master did with his unjust steward. And just as the rich master was threatening to take away all of the goods from his steward, God can arrange to take away some of our blessings and goods if we do not properly handle what He has already given to us.
In order to get promoted in God’s realm to the next level, you have to max out with what He has already given you at your present level. If God has you working in a specific job for a certain length of time, He will expect you to do the best you can in the performance of that job.
If you do not give God your best at the current job He has you working at, then you could cause God not to want to promote you to the next new job that He will have in store for you – all because you did not properly handle the job He gave you.
I believe many Christians miss out on God’s best for their lives because they do not max out with what He has already given them.
If God has given you a nice house, a nice car, and some other nice material possessions, He will expect you to be very thankful and appreciative of these blessings and take very good care of all of them. Keep your house and your possessions in good and clean order.
If you do not, then God will have no desire to want to give you any additional blessings because you have not properly taken care of the blessings that He already has given to you.
Jesus makes a very interesting comment about stewardship in general.
He says that “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
In other words, God has found out that he who does well and maxes out with what little he has at the beginning, will also do well and continue to max out if he is given much more!
And just the opposite is also true. He who is unjust in small matters is also going to be unjust in bigger matters. This person thus cannot be trusted to be allowed to have anything else, and not even heathen business men, much less God Himself, are going to trust this type of individual with any additional goods or possessions.
After studying the lives of many great men and women in God over the last 15 years, I found something very interesting that would illustrate the above points. God has started most of these people out at the bottom of the ladder.
He will start them out with just enough money to get by, just enough provisions to live on, and then sit back and watch how they will do with what He has just initially started them out with.
All of the people who have become very successful in their walk and calls with the Lord had all maxed out with what God had started them out with. These are called small beginnings. Because they had maxed out on level one with God, God then saw fit to promote them to the next level.
And then the same scenario repeats itself once again. God once more sits back and watches how they do with what is given to them on level two. And if they pass that test, then they are promoted to level three.
This is how you keep moving up God’s promotion ladder – by maxing out on what God has already given you at your current level.
And this is where many Christians really blow it with the Lord. They do not realize they are being tested by God at the level they are currently at with Him.
God will watch how you will handle everything that He has given to you in your current level of development with Him. And if you do not properly handle and max out with what He has already given you at this current level, then there will be no promotion to the next level when it is time for your promotion to occur on His timetable.
And you will thus stay stuck right where you are at until you can get what God is trying to tell you to do. God will test you to see what you are made of.
This spiritual principle not only works and applies in God’s realm, but it also works in the natural business realm as pointed out in the above parable. Not only will God keep you from being promoted to the next new level due to bad stewardship, but so will the world in general.
You thus have multitudes of people who never seem to get this principle. They think the world owes them a living and they cannot figure out why no one wants to hire them or trust them with any possessions or goods.
They thus spend the rest of their lives living in poverty thinking that it’s the rest of the world and not them.
Bottom line for all Christians – if you want promotions from the Lord to higher levels of service and bigger and better blessings – then max out and do the best you can on the level that you are currently operating at with Him.
Do the best and be the best you can at the job you are currently working at for the Lord.
Keep your house and all of your material possessions clean and in order.
These material possessions are really major blessings from the Lord and He will expect you to appreciate and take care of what has already been given to you.
If you do, then you will create an incredible desire in God to want to promote you to the next level and bless you with more blessings when it is time for that next promotion to occur on His set timetable for your life.
There are enough verses in the Bible showing that God does have an abundant side to His personality and that He can release abundant type blessings your way – but He will not do it unless you have already proven yourself to Him on these lower levels. He will not go into an abundant blessing mode with you unless He knows you can handle abundant type blessings, just like the above parable is illustrating.
He will first test you to see if you can handle it before releasing any type of abundance to you. This is why many Christians are not blessed with any real serious abundance in their lives.
They are either not maxing out at the level they are currently operating at with the Lord, or they simply do not have what it takes in their personalities to handle abundance, especially abundant amounts of money.
Jesus ends this parable with what I feel is the second major principle that we all need to really grab a hold of. He says:
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
The above parable is illustrating an unrighteous transaction between two businessmen – the rich master and his steward. The last sentence in the above verse is drawing a major battle line in the sand!
Each Christian must decide who they will serve in this life – God or mammon (which means riches, wealth, and possessions).
Do you decide what you are going to be when you grow up, or do you let God make this decision for you?
Do you decide who you are going to be marrying in this life, or do you let God make the choice as to who would be best suited for you?
Do you let God lead and direct your life through the Holy Spirit, or do you decide to control your own destiny and the direction your life will now take?
There is only one way for each Christian to live this life, and that is operating under a full and complete surrender with God the Father. Everything goes on His altar. He wants complete total control of your life so He can lead you into His perfect plan and destiny for your life.
He knows best who you should be marrying in this life – you do not. He knows what you were created to be and what your true potentials are in this life – you do not. His knowledge is perfect on all matters – yours is not.
He knows how to perfectly get you from point A to point B – you do not. He can pave the way ahead of you in order to help prepare you to take the next step up His ladder of success – you cannot. He can protect you and prolong your life – you cannot.
This is why Jesus says that “without Me, you can do nothing.” He is the vine, we are the branches. We have to totally depend and lean on Jesus, not on our own understanding and what we think is right.
The Bible says that we are to be led by the Holy Spirit in this life. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to lead us in this life – but He will not lead us unless we are willing to make a full and complete surrender of our entire lives over to God the Father.
But here is the hardest part, especially for American Christians. We live in the most blessed country in the entire world. Very intelligent Christians know that all of the wealth is really there for the taking.
All they have to do is figure out what their strengths are, figure out the appropriate strategies to get that wealth, and then go for it. Some do it legitimately, and others do it illegitimately, breaking all the rules of society to get this wealth.
But the Christian is faced with a major dilemma. Do I turn my entire life over to the Lord and let Him decide what He wants to do with my life, or do I make my own decisions and go after what I want and what I think is best for me?
Many Christians are really afraid to let God make these choices for them. They are afraid of letting go of the American dream, because they feel they will have a better life if they make their own choices as versus letting God make all of these choices for them. They know that abundant wealth may not be in God’s perfect plan for their life.
God may call them to go over to a foreign country to work as a missionary for only pennies a day. God obviously does not bless everyone with abundant material wealth. These people know they have the intelligence to get that abundant wealth because our society is setup for the more intelligent people to get this wealth.
This is why Jesus is saying in the above parable that you cannot serve both God and mammon – both God and riches. You have to make a choice. Do I surrender my entire life over to God the Father and go with His call and plan for my life – or do I make my own calls, go after what I want, and try to become rich in this life doing my own thing and calling all of my own shots?
The natural businessman is obviously going to go with calling all of his own shots in this life. And he may just succeed in acquiring vast amounts of wealth before he dies.
However, when he dies, not one ounce, not one penny, not one amount of his material possessions and goods that he has acquired will be going over with him into the next life. He will take absolutely nothing with him when he dies and crosses over.
He will then face God for his own personal judgment, and God will then be rewarding him for what he accomplished for Him while he was down here on this earth.
So who do you think is going to get the bigger and better rewards in heaven – the Christian businessman who became wealthy calling all of his own shots and doing his own thing, or the Christian who fully surrendered his entire life over to God the Father and fully completed His divine destiny for his life?
The answer is obvious. I will be doing another article on the rewards that will be available for believers when they cross over into heaven.
There are several verses from Scripture that many Christians are not aware of showing how God is going to be specifically rewarding each one of us for what we have accomplished for Him while living down here on this earth.
The time we are spending down here on this earth is not even the blink of an eye compared to the time that we will be spending up in heaven once we die and cross over. Our time in heaven will be for all eternity. Our time spent down here is just for a very brief moment compared to the eternal time frame that is operating up in heaven.
The Bible tells us to lay up treasures in heaven where the moths cannot eat them. Some of these treasures will be the good works that you will do for God while living down here on this earth.
If you fully surrender your entire life over to God the Father and go with His perfect plan and destiny for your life, then everything that you do and accomplish for Him will be good treasure that will be stored up for you in heaven – and God will then reward you accordingly once you enter into heaven. Good treasures stored up in heaven will also be the good personal relationships that you will be establishing with other saved loved ones.
Remember, you will take none of the earthly material possessions that you have earned or acquired into the next life – but all of your saved friends that you have developed good personal friendships with will be crossing over with you, and these good personal friendships you have established down here will all be lasting for all of eternity up in heaven. All of the money and material wealth that you have acquired and earned down here will not.
To the intelligent American Christian businessman, I ask you – whom will you serve? God and the call that He wants to put on your life – or will you serve only yourself with your own set agendas?
The Bible tells us where the real rewards will be lying. Jesus says that what good will it do a man to gain the whole world, but lose his own soul in the process of acquiring all of that wealth.
Jesus very clearly says at the end of the above parable that you cannot serve two masters.
You cannot serve both the Lord and your own calls and your own set agendas for this life. If you try and do both, you will end up as Jesus is saying, loving the one but hating the other.
You cannot have it both ways. It will tear you apart trying to live in both realms.
You may have to sacrifice both fame and riches by going with God’s perfect plan for your life, but you will much happier and much more fulfilled in the long run, and more highly rewarded once you enter into heaven.
And those heavenly rewards God will be bestowing on you when you enter into heaven will be for all of eternity. Any wealth and riches you gain down here doing your own thing are just going to be for a very brief moment in the eternal scheme of things.
I will leave you with one classic statement made in the Bible that completely summarizes the above last point. One of the most powerful stories in the Bible is the story of Joshua. He does not get much publicity because his story comes right after the story of Moses.
But Joshua was the main one who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. He had “wholeheartedly followed God” and was the first leader to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and defeat and conquer the enemies that were on the land they were to possess. His story is one of the most powerful stories in all of the Bible about someone who did it right in God’s calling on his life.
He made a classic statement that should be burned into every believer’s memory banks. He said:
“… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
He was so successful in the Lord, that one of the Books in the Bible was named after him: “The Book of Joshua.”
Jesus has made it as clear as He possibly could in His Word that there is only one way to live this life – and that is operating under a full and complete surrender with God the Father.
Let God place you in His perfect plan and destiny for your life – and I guarantee you that you will never, ever regret the most important decision that you will ever make in this life.
The Parable of the Unjust Steward is just another piece of incredible revelation being given to us by the Lord on what is most important in this life, and what we should all be striving and seeking after in this life with the Lord.
For a very good article on what this full surrender is all about, along with all of the major verses from the Bible showing this is what God is really looking for, go to our Bible Basics section and read our article titled, “The Full Surrender.”
For the article on the rewards that will be given to us up in heaven, go to our article titled, “Rewards in Heaven,” in the Miscellaneous Section of our site.