The Parable of the Unjust Steward is an exceedingly instructive parable, and is applicable to every one of us.
A large landowner had a steward whom he detected was wasting his property and taking his money. He therefore resolved to deprive him of his office and dismiss him. So he called him and told him to bring his books to him, so he could see how matters stood.
The steward was a cunning man, with no moral principles, and since he was too lazy to work, and he knew that he had no chance of getting another person to employ him as steward, he devised a plan. He'd make his master's tenants be indebted to him, so that, when he was fired, they'd let him stay in their houses.
Acting on this plan, he gave the first tenant, a grower of olives, a great deal on the rent owed to the steward's master. Then he gave another great deal to a second tenant, who grew wheat on land owned by the steward's master.
He did the same with all the other tenants, giving them new leases at a value greatly below what the several farms were worth.
As the steward did all this while he was still acting as steward, and his acts were binding on his employer. His master, therefore, though he felt convinced that these leases were all fraudulent, but it would be difficult to prove they were fraudulent.
Though the steward increased the scorn and anger of his master, he gained the friendship of all the tenants; indeed, he made them his servants.
When the steward was thrown out of his master's house, these tenants let him stay with them, in their houses, and kept him all the days of his life.
Our Master teaches us that we are not to imitate the unjust steward in his dishonesty. Jesus shows how necessary it is for us to be faithful and honest if we wish to enter into heaven.
"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:10-12)
He tells us that the person who is faithful in little things will also be faithful in great; and that a person who acts dishonestly with regard to the affairs of this life, will act in the same dishonest and unfaithful way with regard to the heavenly riches.
When we read Jesus' parables we're likely to think they don't apply to us. We flatter ourselves. When we look at the parable a little closer we might see that we stand convicted of doing more or less the very same as this unjust steward.
Every one of us, like this steward, has taken something which isn't our own, but belongs to his Eternal Master. Our life, our strength, our time, our talents, our goods, our money, are not our own, but God's. He entrusted each of these to us, so we might be faithful stewards of each. Let us each ask ourselves the question: Have we have faithfully used all of these?
Do we bring ourselves under the same condemnation pronounced against the unjust man in the parable? He has been unfaithful in that which was another's, and God will therefore not let him get what might have been his own - even eternal life.
(Adapted from a sermon by Rev. James Stark, 1866)