The Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16 is probably the most misinterpreted and misunderstood teaching in the Gospels. The conjectures that are tied to this story give credence to speculation. To fully understand the implication of this parable, one needs to understand to whom Jesus was talking. It is obvious that Jesus was sharing with His disciples, while at the same time talking to the Pharisees who were in attendance. The Jewish faith centered around the religious authority of the Sanhedrin. Under their supervision, the Pharisees became the religious police who enforced the Sanhedrin’s authoritative position on the Jewish faith. To help the Jewish people understand the Holy Books, they instituted over 600 interpretive laws. Penalties for not obeying those statues ranged from fines to expulsion from the Synagogues. The religious leaders were financially secure, obviously at the expense of the Jewish people. The taxation of the Jewish people was from two sides. There was the religious tax, which included a multiple range of taxes, as well as the Roman tax to help support their occupational army. Many of the people were in debt as a result of unfair financial burdens. In this article, I want to center only on verse 8. The above information is the ground work for the whole chapter.
In this parable, Jesus pointed out the actions of a certain man who was the manager (steward) of a rich man’s estate. The steward had made some bad decisions, whether on purpose (for his own benefit) or by mismanagement. When it became known to his employer, he was summoned to face accountability. He realized he had been caught and knew that it was only a matter of time until he was fired. The steward realized he had to do something to avoid the unemployment lines. He was not strong enough for manual labor and he was too proud to beg. So he decided to reach out to those who owed money to his boss. He had the people write on their bills a lesser amount than was owed. I am sure the people ran to the rich man to pay off the recalculated bill. The steward’s plan was when they saw what he had done for them, they would be sympathetic and assist him in his time of need. When the rich man saw what happened, he “commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely.” (Luke 16:8) The question was did his actions save his position?
Jesus then made a shocking statement, “For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of the light.” (Luke 16:8) Jesus was simply inferring that when the people of the world face a challenging experience they use their minds to figure out how to survive, and even turn a bad situation into a victory. On the other hand, the “children of the light” tend to forget that the answer to life’s problems is not to look horizontally, but vertically for the solution. If Believers would learn to be Biblically wise, many of the pitfalls of life could be avoided. We have all made bad decisions and most of them have been the result of unwise thoughts that have materialized into unwise actions. Faith is not taking a thoughtless leap, but an action predicated on Biblical knowledge. Faith does not put your mind into park; rather, it educates you through the Word. Wise decisions are made through the understanding of the Scriptures. Sadly, it seems the people of the world are wiser than the “children of the light,” simply because we fail to make wise decisions based on Biblical wisdom. Biblical wisdom comes from Biblical knowledge. When we fail to understand the Scriptures, we will continue to violate the Word through actions based on reason and feelings. One of the reasons so many Christians experience a roller coaster faith, is they try to answer the challenges of life by emotional responses, instead of through the certainty of the Word.