Cutting Deals with Debtors

Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’”—Luke 16:3–4  (NKJV) 

Yesterday, we were introduced to a parable Jesus told concerning a steward who wasn’t doing a very good job for his employer. His master held him accountable for his unfaithfulness, and now the story continues as we read the steward’s reaction. 

Now, before we go on, it’s of utmost importance for us to recognize the following about the steward: he reacted! Remember, this man had fallen into a rut of wastefulness. In other words, he’d gotten lazy and was just coasting in his role as a steward. But now that changes as he senses he’s about to be let go from his position. He resolves to do something proactive. 

Check out what he does: “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty’” (Luke 16:5-7 NKJV).

Essentially, the steward starts cutting deals with debtors, not only to gain their favor, but to also set himself up with leads that he could eventually cash in. If his master was going to fire him, why not use his present position to help secure his future? If the master was upset before, you can only imagine how he’d feel now! 

Now, watch the master’s response: “So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8 NKJV).

The master commends the steward for acting so shrewdly?! Here’s where we need to be very careful in interpreting this parable. At face value, it seems like the parable is commending the steward for mismanaging his master’s resources. But, Jesus isn’t directing us to follow the negative details of dealing in such a way, basically ripping-off an employer. Rather, He is pointing us to the positive principle of being a proactive servant. 

Remember, the steward had fallen out of favor because he’d stopped doing his job. But now, a fire is lit under his belly, which moves him into action. And as a result, he starts to act like a serious steward. Even though we know from the rest of God’s Word that the specifics of his reaction aren’t right, the fact remains that it is good to react. Amidst the negative there is a positive!  

Here’s what we need to understand and apply: We can’t slip into a pattern of passivity. Instead, we should adopt a proactive perspective as representatives of God and His kingdom. 

DIG: What was positive about the steward’s behavior here?

DISCOVER: What was Jesus pointing His audience, and us, to? 

DO: Pray about ways you can be a more proactive servant for the Lord.  

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.