I have a new article up at NewEvangelizers.com.
One of Jesus’ most challenging parables is the one about the Dishonest Steward in Luke 16. In that story, a wealthy man is about to dismiss one of his stewards for being dishonest. The steward, wanting to ingratiate himself with those in debt to his master, reduces their debt to the master. The parable ends with the master commending the dishonest steward for acting prudently.
It is important to enter into its context, where the dishonesty of the steward was in the beginning of the story, not the end. Many misunderstand the parable, thinking that the master is rewarding the steward for dishonestly cheating him out of the debts owed. Instead, the steward is being dismissed at the beginning of the story for his graft in overcharging the debtors, something that would have been understood as common to Jesus’ original audience. For example, if Jesus told a similar parable today and began it by describing a dishonest banker, we would naturally assume that his dishonesty was in stealing from the bank. We would not need to be told this. In the original parable, the steward forgoes his cheating profits and has the debtors pay the actual amount they owe.
Because of this, the master commends the steward for being practical.
There are several lessons that one can draw from this story. For this article, I would like to focus only on one idea: