Stewarding That Which Is Not Yours: Can You Be Trusted?

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eighteen verses of the sixteenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find Jesus issuing yet another parable unto the crowds and people which gathered before and around Him. As you begin reading the words which are found out the outset of this sixteenth chapter in the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find the parable which Jesus tells centers around a rich man who had overseeing his business a single steward. Scripture is unclear as to how long this steward oversaw the affairs and matters of this rich man, but one thing we can be sure of is that this rich man has appointed and chosen this single individual to oversee all of his matters and all of his affairs in this life. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that we know not how long this steward oversaw the affairs of this rich man, for within the parable jesus describes how this steward was accused before the rich man concerning his handling of the affairs. If you read the parable closely you will find that not only was this steward accused before his master, but this steward was also accused of wasting the masters goods. Now, there are two distinct realities which are found to be present within this parable and the accusation against the steward. The first is that Jesus only suggests and mentions how this steward was accused before and unto his master of wasting his goods, however, we know nothing of whether or not the accusations against him were founded upon facts and reality or not. It might very well be that the accusations which were brought against this steward were in fact false, and that he had actually not wasted his masters goods at all. Jesus declares in the parable that this’d steward was accused of wasting the masters goods, however, Jesus never tells us whether or not the accusations against this steward were founded and factual or not. I happen to find this to be absolutely and incredibly intriguing, for it causes the diligent reader of this parable to wonder as to where or not the accusations against this man were in fact true and accurate. Within the parable the only thing we learn and know about this steward was that he was accused before and accused unto his master concerning his masters goods, and how he had allegedly and supposedly wasted those goods. It’s absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for it helps shine and incredible amount of light on to what is actually being spoken in this parable.

As you continue reading the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the rich man and his steward you will find that although this steward was accused before his master concerning wasting his goods, we know absolutely nothing about the level and quality of work of this steward. The very fact that the words Jesus used within this parable speak to the fact that this steward was accused and not convicted and found guilty suggests the possibility that this steward did in fact not waste the goods of his master. What’s more, is that within this parable it might be considered how this steward might have faithfully served his master, and might very well have faithfully oversaw the matters and affairs of his master. There is the possibility within this parable that even though this steward was accused of wasting his masters goods, he nonetheless served the master faithfully and diligently. We cannot and date not assume of this steward that the accusations against him were in fact true, for within the parable Jesus offers no indication or expiation as to whether or not the accusations were in fact factual and true. Within the parable the inky thing we know for certain is that this man was overseer over the affairs of his master and oversaw his affairs and matters, and that he was accused before and unto the master. I happen to find it incredibly intriguing and interesting to read this parable and to consider the fact that this rich man has this steward accused before him concerning the wasting of his goods, although we know absolutely nothing whether or not the steward was actually guilty of that for which he was being accused. We must read this parable with unbiased eyes and with an open mind and think about and consider the fact that there is a possibility that this steward faithfully served his master for years, or perhaps for some time, and wouldn’t think about betraying his master by wafting his goods. It might very well be that this steward was very much concerned about the affairs of his master, and that he would and could not do anything that would jeopardize his masters possessions and goods. It is possible that this man—this steward—might have been the most faithful of all this rich man’s servants, and perhaps was even found blameless and faultless. What’s more, is that this parable seems to offer no indication that the rich man has any suspicion toward and of this steward concerning the handling of his goods—only that this steward was accused before the master on account of this steward somehow supposedly wasting the goods of his master. Please don’t read this parable and automatically think that this steward was in fact guilty of that for which he was being accused, for there is nothing within the parable that seems to indicate that what he was being accused of was in fact true and factual.

As I sit here this morning and think about and consider that which is contained within this parable I can’t help but be reminded of two Jewish and two Hebrew men who found themselves living in a foreign land and place completely independent and different from the land and place of their inheritance. If you turn and direct your attention back to the Old Testament you will find two distinct accounts and examples of men who were ripped away from and removed from their land, and from the place of promise and inheritance, and were forced to live and dwell in a foreign land unlike anything they had known in the land of promise and inheritance. Of course, the two individuals I am writing and speaking of are Joseph son of Jacob, and Daniel one of the Hebrew boys who were taken captive out of and from the southern kingdom of Judah and forced to live and dwell in captivity in the land of the Chaldeans. If you turn your attention to the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find the account of Joseph the son of Jacob who was also called Israel, and how Joseph began his journey in the bottom of a pit before being sold into the hands of slave traders who were traveling by the place of the pit. Ultimately Joseph would be brought into the land of Egypt and would be sold unto a man by the name of Potiphar. Journey into the prophetic books which are found in the Old Testament and you will come to the account of Daniel who was ripped away from and out of his Vineland and brought unto the land of the Chaldeans. Within the Old Testament book which bears his name you will find it written how Daniel—together and along with his three Hebrew friends—were found to be more honorable and much wiser then all the others within the kingdom of the Babylonians. If you read the account of Daniel in the land of the Chaldeans you will find that he along with his three Hebrew friends were chosen from among those taken into captivity to enter into a program that would qualify and make them fit for service within the court of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand the accounts of these two men, for both of these men would be found worthy to oversee the matters and affairs of their masters—this despite the fact that both were removed and ripped from their homeland and forced to live in a foreign land that was not their own. The account of these two men not only brings us face to face with two men who were forcefully removed from the land and place of their inheritance, but they were also forced to live and dwell in a foreign land that was not their own, and while there were given tremendous favor with those to whom they were placed under. I am convinced that in order to understand that which is found within this particular parable which Jesus spoke, it is necessary that we recognize and understand the accounts of Joseph and Daniel, for the account of these two men bring us face to face with men who were appointed to oversee the matters and affairs of their master, and how despite their faithfulness in service to their masters were accused by those around them—one accused by the wife of his master because he would not give in to her demands for sexual advances, and the other by other stewards who were envious and jealous of the favor and honor which was bestowed upon him. Consider now if you will the account of these two men as it is written and found within the Old Testament books of Genesis and Daniel, and how these were two men who were placed over the matters and affairs of their masters, and yet found themselves being accused by others before their masters:

“And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again. And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilda’s with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantment; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. And Reuben returned unto the pit; and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go? And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; and they sent the coat of man colors, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; and evil beast hath devoured him; and Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him. And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s and captain of the guard” (Genesis 37:17-36).

“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with. Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored. And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he heartened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, that she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: and it came to pass when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with m e, and fled, and got him out. And she laid up his garment by her,, until his lord came home. And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: and it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out. And it came to pass when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made to prosper” (Genesis 39:1-23).

“And the king spake unto Ashphenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the hand thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Michael, and Azariah: unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshezar; and to Hanaiah of Shadrach; and to Michael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed-nego. And Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not devil himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs…So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days, and at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse. As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all earning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Michael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus” (Daniel 1:3-21).

“Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblate on and sweet odors unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, sand said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king” (Daniel 2:46-49).

“Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews. They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever, Thou, O King, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image: and whoso calleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the proocvine of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not they gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:8-12).

“…Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, in the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3:30).

“Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom” (Daniel 5:29).

“It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom and hundred and twenty princes, which would be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first; that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdoms, the governors, and the princes, the counselors and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statue, and to make a firm decree, that showoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king’s decree; Hast thou not signed a decree, that every man that shall ask a petition of any God or man within thirty days, save of thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regarded not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but make the his petition three times a day” (Daniel 6:1-13).

Now I fully recognize that this was a lot of Scripture that was contained within this writing, however, I am absolutely and thoroughly convinced that if we are to understand that which is found within the parable which Jesus spoke on this particular occasion, it is imperative that we consider the account of Daniel and Joseph, and even the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. It is within the accounts of these five men that we find such which were forcefully removed and taken from their land, and forced to live and dwell in a land that was not their own. It was while present within that land that each of these men was given favor and honor in the sight of those who were over them—for Daniel, this favor was given first by Potiphar, and next by Pharaoh himself who made Joseph second in the entire land and kingdom of Egypt. For Daniel—not only was he promoted under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, but he was also promoted under the reign of his son Belshazzar. In fact, what we find and what we read concerning Daniel was that under the reign of Belshazzar it was proclaimed that he should be made third ruler over the entire kingdom. When we read concerning Daniel in the sixth chapter of the same Old Testament book we find that during the days of Darius the Mede, king of Babylon, it was in his heart and mind to make Daniel ruler over the entire kingdom of the Medes and Persians and over the presidents and presidents which were appointed within the realm and empire. The account of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, and even Joseph aren’t merely accounts of favor and promotion, and not only faithfulness over the affairs of their masters, but each of these accounts was also about accusation and fault, as others sought to find fault with them, and accused them before their masters. For Joseph, he was accused before his master by his master’s wife when he refused to lie with her, and when he actually fled from her sexual advances, thus leaving his garment behind. For Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego we find them being accused before Nebuchadnezzar during the days and time of the image made of gold and the decree to bow down before and worship the image when the sound of music and instruments was heard within the province. Concerning Daniel we find him too being accused before his master by the presidents and princes who were appointed over the affairs and matters of the empire, for they accused him based on the decree which the king put into motion concerning no one offering up any prayer unto anyone or any God except the king himself. The account of each of these men is actually quite remarkable and unique when you consider them in light of what we find and read in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, for within the New Testament gospel of Luke we find the steward of this rich man being accused before and unto his master concerning wasting his masters goods. The accounts of Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego find them too being accused before their masters—albeit the accusations being lobbied against them being false and unfounded and born out of jealousy, envy, scorn, malice and offense. There is no indication within the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke and within this parable why this steward was accused before his master of wasting his goods, but we do know that he was accused before his master by others concerning wasting his goods, and fearing the outcome of the accusation against him. Within the parable we come face to face with the reality that this steward was incredibly worried and concerned over this accusation, for his lord was going to take away from him the stewardship, and he could not dig. What’s more, is that this steward was too ashamed to beg for mercy and grace from his master.

As I read this particular parable, I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of what we are doing with, and how we are handling that which has been entrusted into our care. The entire premise of this parable was how we handle and what we do with that which does not belong to us and has been entrusted into our hands and into our care. The entire parable centers upon the reality of being entrusted to oversee and appropriately handle that which does not belong to us, and instead belongs to another. What’s more, is that as you read this parable you will be confronted with the tremendous reality of just what we are doing with that which doesn’t belong to us, and with how we are handling that which has been entrusted into our hands and into our care. What’s more, is that this is not only true in natural and physical matters as it pertains to our jobs and places of employment, but also in spiritual matters and matters of the heart such as time, finances, ministry, and even the gifts and calling we have been given. That which we find within this parable brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of just what we are doing with and how we are handling the affairs and matters of others who have been entrusted into our hands and into our care. Are we appropriately handling that which has been entrusted into our hands and into our care, or are we found to be in want and wasting the goods of our master? Perhaps this question is best understood in terms of spiritual matters, for we must ask ourselves whether or not we are properly stewarding the goods of our Master in heaven, or whether or not we are squandering and wasting his goods. There is not a doubt in my mind that each and every one of us has been entrusted with goods of the kingdom, and goods from the Master’s hand, and yet we must ask ourselves how we are handling, and what we are doing with that which has been entrusted into our care and into our hands by the Master. We must ask ourselves whether or not are properly handling and stewarding the goods of the kingdom of heaven, or whether or not we are wasting those goods—either on our own endeavors and pursuits, or simply by not putting them to use the way they were intended on being used. Along these lines I can’t help but be reminded of the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the master who left to go on a long journey and gave unto his servants a portion of his goods. Within this parable the master gave unto one of his servant five talents, unto another servant two talents, and unto the other servant a single talent according to their ability. If you read the parable, you will find that the servant unto whom five talents were given went immediately to work with those talents and earned five more talents. The servant who was given two talents also put the talents to work and earned two more talents. Unfortunately the servant who was given a single talent was fearful and afraid of his master, and instead of putting that talent to good use, he chose instead to bury it in the ground until his master returned. Much to the surprise of this servant when his master returned, he was declared to be a wicked and lazy servant, for he should have at least taken the talent and placed it with the bank(s) in order that the master might earn a measure of interest along with the original talent when he returned.

What we must recognize and must understand concerning the words which are found within this parable is that which Jesus speaks after the parable is over, and the instruction he gives to those who were present on this day. If you continue reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus going on to speak and provide words of caution, words of instruction, and words of warning unto those who were present on this day. Consider if you will the words which Jesus the Christ spoke immediately following the conclusion of this parable concerning the handling of the world’s riches, and concerning that which has been entrusted into our hands and into our care. Beginning with the ninth verse we find the following words spoken by Jesus the Christ:

“And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteousness mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:9-13).

Please mark and make note of the words which Jesus spoke on this particular occasion, for his words bring us face to face with our level of faithfulness, as well as our level of obedience and responsibility with that which has been entrusted into our hands and into our care. With these words you will notice how Jesus not only declared that those who are faithful in that which is least are faithful in much, but also that those who are unjust in the least is unjust also in much. What’s more, Jesus goes on to declare that if we have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to our trust the true riches [the riches of heaven]. Furthermore, Jesus goes on to ask if we have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give unto us that which is our own. It is absolutely necessary to and imperative that we recognize and understand that which is found and contained within these words of Jesus, for not only are we confronted with our faithfulness with the unrighteous riches of this world, and the money that is contained therein. What’s more, is the fact that we are confronted with the reality of whether or not we have been faithful with that which does not belong to us and actually belongs to us. As if this weren’t enough, we are also confronted with the tremendous reality of whether or not we can be entrusted with little, and/or that which is considered to be the least. Jesus makes it quite clear that if we can’t be trusted, if we can’t be faithful, and if we can’t be responsible with a little, then why on earth could we expect and even hope to be entrusted with much? The question we must ask ourselves when reading the words contained within this passage of Scripture is not merely limited to whether or not we are being accused of wasting our master’s goods, but what we are actually doing with that which does not belong to us, and with that which belongs to another. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we can in fact be trusted with the things of the kingdom of heaven if we cannot be faithful and obedient with the things of this earth. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—if you can’t be faithful with matters of this world and of the earth, how do you expect to be entrusted with that which truly matters, and that which is of worth and value in the kingdom of heaven? What are you doing—what are we doing—with the master’s goods, and that which has been entrusted into our hands and into our care, and can we be found faithful in the sight of our Master who is in heaven? Can we be trusted with the riches of this world, and with the unrighteous mammon of this life, or are we unwise and unfaithful stewards who know not what we are doing, nor even how to be responsible? Oh that we would read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture and would come face to face with our level and measure of responsibility and faithfulness with what has been entrusted into our hands and into our care, or whether we can in fact—not only be accused of, but also be found guilty of wasting our master’s goods, and wasting that which does not belong to us.

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