Can you please explain the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-13).  It is confusing to me.


This parable is about God’s desire that we use the things he has given him to advance the Kingdom of God.   It is rather similar to the parable in Matthew 25:14-30.   In this parable the master (symbolically God, in this case) is angry at his servant who does not use his “talent” to serve the master.

The idea in Luke 16:1-13 is similar.   Jesus shames believers by pointing out that even a “sinner” knows how to use his money wisely.  To modernize the story, we could make the manager a greedy capitalist.  Even the worldly people understand that money can be used to our advantage–to gain friends and influence people.   Jesus tells us that, although we should not learn the worldly, greedy behavior of this manager, we should learn from him that we should use what God has given us to the advantage of the Kingdom of God.  Like Jesus said, “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.”  The intent here is to teach followers of Jesus that having things is not bad, but that we should use the things we have to build up the kingdom.   Jesus is not teaching that we should live in a convent, but that we should live in the world and use the things we have in the world to build up the kingdom.  He is not proposing that we mimic the selfish, greedy heart of the manager, but that we learn wise use of our things from this person.   Like Jesus said we should be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).  There is no virtue in being foolish with our money.  We should use our money, our talents, our skills and our gifts to spread the news of the Kingdom of God.

John Oakes

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