The Unjust Steward

He also said to His disciples: ‘There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.’”—Luke 16:1 (NKJV)

The Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke chapter 16 is one of Jesus’ most misunderstood and potentially confusing parables. In order to properly understand it, we need to take out time to examine it, which is why we’re going to devote the next three days to this particular story.

It begins by introducing us to a couple of characters. The first is a wealthy businessman with many investments and connections within his community. Our next character is the rich man’s steward, who is responsible for managing each of these business accounts. This steward is the parable’s main character, and we see in the passage above that accusations are circulating about how he’s not doing a good job at handling his master’s accounts. Watch what his employer does in response: “So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward’” (Luke 16:2 NKJV.)

Again, we need to take our time reading a parable if we’re to understand it well. Consequently, we’re going to stop at this point and focus on the important principle that’s being established in these opening verses.

What principle? Notice how the wealthy businessman confronts his manager and calls on him to give an account of his actions. This is the foundational reality that will support everything that will follow in this story: Servants are expected and held accountable for faithfully serving their masters.

It’s critical we understand this going forward, because this parable is ultimately pointing us to the importance of faithfulness . . . not with earthly business assets, but with the precious truths concerning God and His kingdom. We will get to that toward the end of this parable, but for now, let’s focus on the following facets:

1.    There is a measurable standard for faithfulness.
2.    This standard is understood by both servant and master.
3.    The master is aware of the servant’s activity.
4.    The servant will eventually be held accountable by the master.          

Each of these points factor into the life of the Christian; for we, too, are servants with a Master, the Lord. And in parallel with the parable, there’s a measurable and understood standard for faithfulness that our all-knowing Master will hold us accountable to. 

Translation: We need to prioritize faithfulness to what the Lord has called us to. Understand, this isn’t intended to instill guilt or fear, because Jesus doesn’t want us to be motivated by such things. Rather, it’s meant to give us a healthy pause to examine ourselves and ask to be filled afresh with God’s love, which is always the most effective fuel for faithfulness. 

DIG: What is the main principle presented in the first few verses of this parable?

DISCOVER: How does this parable parallel the Christian life? How will you respond to what you’ve just read?      

DO: Do a self-assessment of your faithfulness to what God has entrusted you with. Examine whether or not you’re serving Him faithfully or serving yourself. Consider asking a close, objective, honest friend as well to see if the way you’re perceiving yourself lines up with what others are seeing.

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.