Depleting the Source
One of the ways of insuring against the unpredictable future is to refrain from depleting the source of supply. The parable of the Prodigal Son comes to mind. Though the primary message in this parable is about the love and compassion of a father demonstrating his readiness to receive back a repentant son, there is an element of stewardship that we can also learn from it. This is why I like Jesus’ parables, they are so rich.
“And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.”—Luke 15:11-16.
From this parable, it is evident that the young man took everything that belonged to him. He then started to squander his wealth. He never cared that he hadn’t left anything at home to fall back to. To want to prematurely go away from the father was bad enough, but as he went to experiment on life, he could have either taken good care of his inheritance or leave something with the father so that should things not work for him, he would always come back to what he left behind.
It is no wonder that when he came back to his senses, he lowered himself to the level of asking to be a servant of his father. That would have been the first. Fathers don’t make servants of their own children, but his attitude shows how low he had fallen. What he initially received was an inheritance, this time round, even if the father didn’t make him a servant, whatever he was going to get, would be his toiling. You are wise if you can tell the true worth of things you have acquired without toiling for.
We never know! It might just start raining not long after we squander what we had. We don’t have to pay dearly to be taught a lesson that only needed self-control and common sense to learn.
Again, although the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) is principally about being ever-ready for the second coming of the Lord Jesus, it also teaches us something about stewardship. The Bible describes the ones who had extra oil as wise while those who didn’t have reserve as foolish. The question is, can our resources stretch enough to outlast the indefinite wait? Remember that not having reserve oil earned the five virgins the designation of being “foolish.” They ended up being at the wrong place for the right reasons at the wrong time. Good stewardship means that we must have extra resources at the right place at the right time. Remember that the virgins didn’t go out to loiter around. What they went out to get was important, but it was at the wrong time. The fact that they were virgins shows that they were ladies of moral integrity. To borrow from the apostle Peter’s formulation, we could say: To your moral integrity, add managerial ingenuity.
It is through preparing for a long stretch that we would avail resources to last as long as the waiting takes its toll. And we prepare by saving something for the unknown.
Reflections and Questions to Ponder