“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.” (Lk 16:8)
In the parable of the unjust servant, it was odd that the master commended the unjust steward who was facing imminent dismissal for his shrewdness. In light of his deceit, why did the master commend the steward? Why did Jesus use such a character as the unjust steward, and even tell of his commendation?
There are some valuable characteristics in the unjust steward that are worthy of noting, including his self-evaluation, quick thinking, networking, and tactics. When the steward realized that he was about to be dismissed, he quickly analyzed his situation and evaluated his own abilities. Then, he came up a game plan and took actions swiftly to prepare for his future.
A few years ago, when I received my two-week’s layoff notice, I found myself in the similar situation as the unjust servant regarding job opportunities and skills. Other than my own profession, I had no other job options or skills. Even for my own profession, my technical skills were behind the requisites of the few available openings in a dwindling job market. I did not attempt to build a network as the unjust steward did, even though it was a common way of job seeking.
Instead, I held tightly to God, my ultimate master, through unceasing prayers of supplication and thanksgiving. I also quickly prepared my resume, and downloaded and printed many job-related technical references from the Internet in the last two weeks of my last job. In the following weeks of unemployment, I studied diligently from early morning till late night to catch up. It was a difficult journey of job searching but God gave me strength and helped me overcome many obstacles including my fading memory and incompetence. At due time, He opened a job opportunity for me.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.” (Lk 16:9)
Emulate the unjust steward and the lovers of mammon (money), not in their dishonesty or greed, but in their zeal, forethought, and provision for the future. We are encouraged to prepare ahead beyond our earthbound goals, store our treasures in heaven, and use what we have been given for God’s kingdom.