One of the philosophies and doctrinal belief of the Pharisees is their non-association with sinners or people who are not Jews; one of the problems they had with Jesus was his association with the said “sinners”. Many people had come around Jesus because they heard about his notable reputation and the many miracles he had performed among them. Men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Him, listening intently to the message being taught by Him. The Pharisees murmured and growled and said amongst each other, “he takes in sinners and eats with them, treating them like old friends”.
Their grumbling triggered a response from Jesus who argued that both the righteous and sinners were created and made by God. He also told stories or parables to buttress this. One of such was the shepherd who had a hundred sheep who would do everything possible to find the one that goes missing. He would be ready to abandon the ninety-nine and look for that one sheep lost until the sheep is found. When he finds the sheep, he lays the sheep on his back and goes back home rejoicing. Human beings are here compared to an animal. The whole flock of mankind (both Jews and Gentiles) belongs to this divine shepherd (God).
The woman who had ten pieces of silver and loses one would do everything possible to find the lost silver. She will lighten the place up; sweep the house carefully, diligently searching until she finds the missing coin. When she finds the coin, she will call her friends and neighbors rejoicing that she had found the missing coin. A coin here was a day’s wage for a person. The longer a piece of coin or money was lost, the less probability there is to recover it as it may not only lose its color and not be easily seen, but will continue to be more and more covered with dust and dirt. Since the coin was equal to a day’s wage that a man will work for, it represented mankind. Again mankind here is compared to an inanimate object.
Thirdly, Jesus brings home the point he is making from the two parables as he told them the story of the man and his two sons. The younger son went astray and the father was worried that he had lost his son. The elder son was at home but the father would love to have both sons at home. On this particular day, the younger son appears from nowhere and the father was glad that he had come back home; he ordered his servants to bring the robe, the ring and they were going to kill the fatted calf to celebrate the boy described as lost who is now found.
In all the three stories or parables said about Jesus, one thing was common and that is the issue of money. The one sheep that was lost in the first parable could still make more money for the shepherd. There is no point keeping the nine pieces of silver if the tenth one could be found; for there would always be a difference between nine pieces of silver and ten. In the third story, the younger brother spent all the money that was given to him as his share and came back home to spend the remaining which now belonged to his brother. For this his brother was angry and naturally speaking, I don’t blame him.
He turned to his disciples and told them this story as he continues to make known to them the mysteries of His counsel and the deeper part of the three parables explained above. He told them the parable of the unjust steward. This steward or manager as we might want to use present day language, is not a JUST person but an UNJUST one. Why would Jesus be talking about an unjust person? The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son are all pictures painted of sinners and unjust people. This unjust manager was accused by his boss for misappropriation and he was going to be fired.
The unjust manager thought within himself about what to do about his predicament; he said to himself that he was too old to work; he was too proud to beg, he had to look for a way out. Immediately he went to the people that owed his master some money to strike deals. This he did with the intention of getting help from the people he is trying to help now. He said, “when I become homeless, people will accommodate and take me into their houses”. His purpose for doing this was to get rewarded by those he had done well for. So he went one after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “He replied, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ “The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now—write fifty.’ “To the next he said, ‘and you, what do you owe?’ “He answered, ‘A hundred sacks of wheat.’ “He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’
Jesus commended this UNJUST manager at what he did, because he had done wisely. WoW and WoW again. Why would Jesus commend him for this?
Jesus, in reinforcing his statement said, “The children of this world seem wiser than the children of light”. The children of this world in their generation do what they do knowing where they belong and what they expect to get from what they do. In other words, Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. The children of this world, in other words, use their resources to buy friends and relationships that would bring longtime benefits. The UNJUST manager knew how to look after himself and his temporal future.
Jesus on the contrary did not commend the UNJUST manager because he defrauded his master; he did not commend him for the wastage; neither did he commend him for his narcissism or selfishness. He told his disciples to borrow one particular part of what the UNJUST manager did. He asked them to borrow the evil attitude of the children of this world channeling it into the appropriate avenue. He wanted them to apply the resources available to them to secure their future with God.
Paraphrasically, the children of this world are wiser than the children of light because they are dedicated to taking care of themselves, than the children of light to the kingdom with which they belong. Christians are half as responsible in their responsibilities to God and the Gospel. When we apply the same enthusiasm to God, His Work and Word, as we desire to fill our bank accounts, then the bible declares the commendation of God towards us. This enthusiasm channeled in the proper direction is what Jesus seems to be commending here and not the phony UNJUST manager.
Therefore Jesus made other comments to drive home his point in this story. If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be honest in big things; If you’re a crook in small things, you’ll be a crook in big things. If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store? No worker can serve two bosses: He’ll either hate the first and love the second Or adore the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and the Bank.
When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch. So Jesus spoke to them: “You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance. What society sees and calls monumental, God sees through and calls monstrous.
In conclusion, what we call the “blessings of God” or resources as I have chosen to call them, are not meant for us but should flow through us to empower others so that we can lay for ourselves a bright future in God.
Charles H Spurgeon said, “It is very difficult for a man to have much money running through his hands without some of it sticking. It is very sticky stuff; and when it once sticks to the hands, they are not clean in the sight of the Lord. Unless a man is able to use money without abusing it, accepting it as a talent lent to him, and not as a treasure given to him, it will very soon happen that, the more money he has, the more troubles he will have. Money circulated is a medium of public benefit, while money hoarded is a means of private discomfort”.