Luke 15 relates the parable of the steward who was accused of wasting his employer’s goods. His boss threatens to fire him in verse 2, and he doesn’t know what to do. “I cannot dig, “he says. “And to beg I am ashamed.”
But he does figure out what to do, and he goes around collecting from his master’s creditors, at a loss. How much do you own my boss? he asks. And then he offers them a discount. You owe a hundred bucks? he asks. Here, sit down and write a check for fifty.
So what’s going on here? Is he giving away his master’s money? Why does his master commend him for this? And why does Jesus praise him? He says the generation of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Notice first that the steward is not forgiving the creditors the money they owe the master- he is canceling the percentage that would normally go to himself. He manages his master’s money at a short term loss to himself–and in so doing keeps his job and builds better relationships with the merchants and tradesmen in the community. He understood profits and losses and used this knowledge to the advantage of everyone involved–his employer, his neighbors, and himself. Frankly, Jesus was impressed. And he said “if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?”
So Jesus seems to be saying learn to manage your money. And learn to manage other peoples money too. Understand how money works. And as you manage it well you may get to manage more of it.
Editor’s note: Another installment in the “Last Lecture” series, Jesus on money. This was originally part of a commencement address at Heritage Christian Academy in June, 2003.