The merciful master…
The steward in this story was not careful with the stuff entrusted to him. He was apparently using the debtor’s payments for his own pleasure. The master heard the news and told him he was fired. But his master mercifully gives him time to prepare his books for an audit.
The steward struggles with what to do. He was caught and in trouble. His options are limited and he doesn’t like his choices. When the people found out he was a crook who would hire him?
He puts together a shrewd plan. Before the news spreads that he has been fired, he calls on the debtors, and quickly gets them to settle their accounts. They do so willingly because the steward gives them a substantial discount. In this way the debtors see the steward as a hero who had helped them negotiate a lesser fee for their final bill, instead of as a rascal who had been squandering their payments to his master.
The master realizes what the steward has done, but he considers what the alternatives might have been. He also realizes that the people will be praising the master for his generosity in lowering the bills. If he goes back and annuls what the steward had done, their joy in him will turn to anger. The master proves himself to indeed be a merciful and generous man. He allows the steward to go free and the accounts to be settled. The steward had risked everything on the master’s good nature, and he won.
Jesus is not teaching people to commit fraud, compromise with evil, or act entirely in one’s own self-interest. He isn’t saying we can buy our way to heaven. The emphasis is on living in the light of eternity. We have been unjust, but we have been given a merciful “grace period” to settle our accounts. Like the unjust steward, we must recognize the hopelessness of our situation, and turn to the one source of our salvation, our generous Master.
There will come a day where we will be called to account. It does us well to make preparation before then. Are you placing your total trust in the Master’s mercy?