Greetings to you! We have gathered together in God’s name this morning to meditate on the theme, “Common sense as well as devotion are needed for the service of God.” Common sense, unfortunately, is not so common and true devotion is also difficult to find in our world today.
In the gospel reading this morning from St. Luke, Jesus tells his disciples about a dishonest steward who showed common sense, foresight and also insight into his Master’s character. The dishonest steward discovers that his Master expects obedience and judges those who fail him. He also discovers the extra-ordinary mercy of the Master.
Therefore, he decides to risk everything on the unqualified mercy of his Master. He knows that if he fails, he goes to jail: if he succeeds, he is saved. This parable is one of the most difficult parables. Does it show Jesus as approving or compromising with the unjust steward? Let us unpack the parable to understand it.
In the parable the Master of the steward has heard about the misdemeanours of the steward. He therefore calls the steward in to give accounts. The Master finds out that he has been pilfering and therefore relieves him from his post. Legally he has been terminated though he has to hand over the accounts. This steward was fully aware that he was guilty. He knows for sure that making excuses would not get his job back. The one thing that the steward discovered in this process was that his Master was merciful and had let him go without being jailed or scolded. He notices that his Master shows unusual mercy and generosity even towards dishonest stewards.
The steward knows that if he loses job, he was not in a position to do manual labour. He also knew that once word gets out that he had been dismissed, then nobody would hire him. So, he comes up with a wise plan.
The steward used his common sense and said to himself, “Others still don’t know that I am fired.” So, he called each one of his master’s debtors. They come to him one by one and since all of them owed huge amounts they probably thought that the Master had something to say to them. So, he calls the first debtor and asks him what he owes the Master. The debtor replies about 3000 litres of Olive oil. The steward makes him change it to 1500 litres reducing it by 50%. He calls another debtor and asks him what he owes his master, and he says about 30 tonnes of wheat. He makes him reduce it by 20%. These were huge amounts, almost half a year’s wages. The steward them submits the changed accounts and delivers them to his Master.
The master looks at the account and knows that the amounts have been fudged. What are the options that the Master has? Word had got around to the village that the Master was a noble man who had called them and reduced their debts. There was a great round of celebration in praise of the Master in the entire village. The Master could either go back to the debtors and say that it was a mistake but then this would have turned the villagers joy into anger and he could have been cursed for stinginess. The other option was to keep quiet and accept the praise that has been showered on him, and allow this steward to ride high on the wave of public enthusiasm. He therefore says you are a wise man.
Jesus uses the example of a dishonest man and asked the children of light to learn from him to be wise. The cleverness and skill deployed in self-preservation is being praised. He is praised for his wisdom. He is sensitive to the hopelessness of the situation. He is aware of the one source of salvation namely the generosity of his Master.
Similarly, human beings are also in hopeless situations. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards. We are therefore to be punished. Our excuses will avail nothing. Human being’s only option is to entrust everything to the unfailing mercy of God, who in his generous love, will pay for the price of our salvation.
May we too this morning prepare ourselves for the coming judgement that we may throw ourselves at the mercy and love of God that he will forgive us and grant us eternal life.