Sermon notes for July 25, 1999
“The Parable Of The Unjust Steward
Lessons From An Unbeliever”
A. Are you REALLY CONVINCED that the Gospel is TRUE?
(from James Boice)
1. If there is no God, Then I am a law unto myself and can do as I please.
2. If there is a God, Then God has either revealed Himself or He has not.
If He has not, I am back in the same place as if there were no God.
3. Jesus may be just another religious teacher. If so, His teachings can
be used or not, only if they prove helpful. Otherwise I am not bound
4. If Jesus is not God, Then His death and His teachings about it’s
meaning are unimportant, though they were obviously important to
B. What DIFFERENCE Should It Make If The Gospel IS True?
1. Very few of us live AS IF the Gospel and the Scriptures are really true
2. Because, IF WE DID REALLY BELIEVE that the Gospel were true, we
would live our lives totally different than we do now.
3. Because EVERYTHING that we did should be done with the Gospel in
a. A. W. Tozer “The man who comes to a right belief about God is
relieved of ten thousand temporal problems for he sees at once
that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot
concern him very long.”
b. Is the Gospel in your mind WHEN you make decisions in your life?
c. We will see today that a man’s perspective on life DETERMINES how
he will live that life
1. And believe it or not, Jesus, in today’s parable, will use the life of
an ungodly, scheming unbeliever as a model for believers to
2. Today, the believer learns a valuable lesson from the unbeliever
I. The PARABLE Of The Unjust Steward
A. The Steward’s PROBLEM
1. A wealthy farmer discovers a problem with his steward
a. It was common in Jesus’ day for the wealthy to hire someone to take care
of their affairs (Joseph/Potiphar)
b. The wealthy man never seemed to check on the steward until word came to
him “through the grapevine” that the steward was abusing his job
c. The owner then went to the steward and demanded an accounting
d. As a result of the audit, the steward was to be released
e. However, the owner gave the steward some time to get the books in order
f. So, for a season, he remained the owner’s steward
2. The steward faces the problem with the owner
a. The steward has had enormous freedom and prestige in his job
1. The owner never checked on him
2. Thus, the steward was able to take money and spend it on himself in
3. He grew accustomed to an affluent lifestyle
b. As he considered the loss of his job, he said to himself:
1. I don’t want to do manual labor (candid camera)
a. He wasn’t strong enough to dig
b. A CPA. What do you expect?
2. He was too ashamed to beg
a. Too humiliated in light of his previous position
b. Jim Baaker going to jail
B. The Steward’s PLAN
1. Being an accountant; a bright, thinking, creative type - he came up with a plan
2. The plan
a. Because no one else knew that he had lost his job, he would remain in
appearance as the owner’s steward
1. It was customary for the steward to receive payments from those who
rented land from the owner
2. Instead of money, there would be “payment in kind”
3. And it would be up to the steward to get a certain amount. If he could
get more, then he could keep it himself
4. In this case he went to two renters to “cut a deal” with them
a. One owed 800 gallons of olive oil
1. The steward simply cut it in half; to 400 gallons
2. Thus affecting his own profit and the profit of the owner
b. The other owed 1000 bushels of wheat
1. The steward make it 800
2. Again, a loss to his own profit and the owner’s profit
b. What was the steward doing by making deals with the renters?
1. He reduced their debt, thus making them all debtors TO HIM, the
2. He thus made friends with the renters which could allow him to come
to them after he lost his job.
3. If the renters didn’t hire him, then he could blackmail them by telling
the owner that they knowingly cheated him
4. There would be no witnesses that could implicate him.
C. The Steward’s PERSPECTIVE
1. Believe it or not, once the owner found out about this plan, he
COMMENDED the steward for his “shrewdness”.
a. After all, the steward DID position himself for further employment
b. He DID at least get the owner most of his payment
c. “Many of us are privately pleased when someone diddles the tax man,
mugs the corporation, or makes off with company property. When
we all watched M*A*S*H, we were endlessly amused when Hawkeye
tricked the supply sergeant out of a box of medicine or a case of
scotch—or a jeep. When we read in the Times that a bank teller has
made off to Latin America with a bundle of the bank’s money, we
may secretly hope that the teller is never caught. So let’s hear it for
the steward in the parable. He is a delight to the con artist, the
grifter, the petty pilferer that lurks in each of us. Anyone who has
shaved a few bucks from a form 1040 has got to admire that steward.
He beat the system! A hundred measures of oil is nearly nine
hundred gallons. The steward could reasonably expect that
his partners in crime would take care of him for a long, long time.
2. And then Jesus makes a most amazing statement in verses 8 and 9
“For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own
kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain
friends for yourself, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into
a. WHAT in the world is Jesus talking about?
b. Is Jesus saying that this scheming, stealing pagan is a model for us to
II. The APPLICATION of the Unjust Steward
A. A Christian’s PROBLEM
vs. 9 - For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own
kind than are the people of the light
1. Pagans are TOTALLY INVOLVED.
a. They are CONSUMED with serving self and their own “gods”
1. They will do everything they can to get to the top of their career
a. In Japan, they had to create a word for “death by working”, because
so many Japanese have worked themselves to death
b. Businessmen in the U.S. work 80-90 hours a week
1. Kosciusko/Fowler - 5:30 AM to 7:30 PM
2. I do believe that most business people in the world work harder
than most pastors; although pastors work 50-60 hrs/wk
c. What it takes to be a great athelete
1. World class ice-skaters
2. There is a compulsion that drives the pagan to achieve in his world
b. Pagans are TOTALLY COMMITTED to their way of life - this is
what Jesus is talking about
1. Despite the fact that their end is futile, their eyes are on the prize of
success and they WILL HAVE IT!
2. They are working toward THEIR GOAL.
a. And the pagan is better at reaching his goal THAN THE
b. AND WE HAVE THE MOST NOBLE GOAL!!!
1. We are working for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords
2. We are working FOR OUR REWARD IN HEAVEN! And we
are so ho-hum about it!
3. We ought to be as consumed AS THE PAGAN about our goal
a. We must not be so clear about our goal!
b. WHAT IS OUR GOAL?
1. The Catechism - to Glorify God and enjoy Him
2. To know Christ
3. To make disciples of all nations
4. To be salt and light in a tasteless, dark world
5. To grow in the likeness of Jesus
4. How much time do we spend attempting to REACH OUR
a. Learn a lesson from the pagan businessman
b. Learn a lesson from the world class athlete who has given
up EVERYTHING to be the best at his sport
c. Learn a lesson from the Ph.D who has spent everything to
become a teaching professor
d. Learn from the Tennessee Volunteers on what it takes to
become a champion - This week in the paper - Fulmer
1. “He is always thinking about his team”
2. “We are ready for whatever may come”
c. Jesus is saying that pagans are more committed to their ungodly goals
than Christians are committed to their Godly goals
2. Pagans FIND A WAY, whatever way, to reach their goal
a. Pagans think, plan and even scheme to reach their goal
1. They will sell everything that they have to get what they want
2. They will meet and meet and meet until they see it happen
a. Bill Gates of Microsoft
b. Donald Trump
c. ___ Jones of the Dallas Cowboys
b. Where is the FIRE of the Christian to reach their spiritual goals?
1. How much time do we spend thinking, meeting, praying and working
to reach our spiritual goals
2. WHERE ARE THE THINKERS AND PLANNERS IN THE
a. D. James Kennedy - Evangelism Explosion
b. Paul Cho - Pastor of the world’s largest church
c. Mapping Center - GREAT IDEA!
3. We tend to “let go and let God”.
a. When actually this is a cover-up for laziness
b. WHY DID GOD GIVE US A BRAIN?
1. Don’t confuse laziness with spirituality
2. Galatians 6-7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A
man reaps what he sows.”
c. The Christian’s problem is that they are not as committed to their Godly
goal as the pagan is to their ungodly goals . .
1. We should be ashamed of ourselves
2. and model ourselves after their wholehearted commitment to their bad
3. William Barclay - “If only the Christian was as eager and
ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as the man of the world
is in his attempt to attain money and comfort, he would be a much
B. The Christian’s PLAN - vs. 9 (Jesus) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain
friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into
1. Jesus is making a STARTLING STATEMENT - ENGAGEMENT
a. Not only should we be LIKE the pagan in his approach to
reaching his goals, we are to BECOME A PART OF HIS
1. This concept of Jesus totally destroys the concept of the
a. “Draw out from among them and be separate”
b. After all, what did Jesus do? Christ met unbelievers where
they were. He realized what many Christians today still don’t
seem to understand. Cultivators have to get out in the field.
According to one count, the gospels record 132 contacts that
Jesus had with people. Six were in the Temple, four in the
synagogues and 122 were out with the people in the
mainstream of life.
2. Just see how “radical” Jesus’ view was of being “in the
b. We are to “use” this worldly wealth to make an impact in this
1. The word “use”
1. to bring forth
2. commit, cause, produce, construct
3. carry out, execute
2. a command
2. WHAT IS JESUS SAYING? - MINISTRY
a. We are not only to be “in” the world, we are to be
“through” the world
1. We are to “use” the things of the world to reach
2. Why must we “use” the things of the world?
a. The world and its things are the only thing that
the unbeliever understands
1. The unbeliever does not understand spiritual
matters for they are unable
2. Besides, the unbeliever thinks they are
a. Preaching - stupid
b. Evangelism stupid
c. Tracts - stupid
d. Witness - stupid
b. So, “use” things that the unbeliever can
understand so that they can see Christ in them
1. This past week, our youth worked on a
a. That woman saw Christ in action
b. That woman was blessed
2. Use your:
2. So that you will “see” your money’s
affect in heaven as you see a
1. Invite unbelievers over
2. They will be amazed at your:
1. Golf - Don’t be an idiot
2. Don’t treat it as a joke, or you will never
reach a serious golfer
1. Dudley, CFP - ACFD
2. Pagans don’t think we have a clue about what
we are doing
e. When I was a small boy, I attended church every
Sunday at a big Gothic Presbyterian bastion in
Chicago. The preaching was powerful and the
music was great. But for me, the most awesome
moment in the morning service was the
offertory, when twelve solemn, frock-coated
ushers marched in lock-step down the main aisle
to receive the brass plates for collecting the
offering. These men, so serious about their
business of serving the Lord in this magnificent
house of worship, were the business and
professional leaders of Chicago. One of the twelve
ushers was a man named Frank Loesch. He was
not a very imposing looking man, but in Chicago
he was a living legend, for he was the man who
had stood up to Al Capone. In the prohibition
years, Capone’s rule was absolute. The
local and state police and even the Federal Bureau of
Investigation were afraid to oppose him. But
singlehandedly, Frank Loesch, as a Christian layman
and without any government support, organized the
Chicago Crime Commission, a group of citizens
who were determined to take Mr. Capone to court
and put him away. During the months that the
Crime Commission met, Frank Loesch’s life was in
constant danger. There were threats on the lives of
his family and friends. But he never wavered.
Ultimately he won the case against Capone and was
the instrument for removing this blight from the city
of Chicago. Frank Loesch had risked his life to live
out his faith. Each Sunday at this point of the
service, my father, a Chicago businessman
himself, never failed to poke me and silently point
to Frank Loesch with pride. Sometimes I’d catch
a tear in my father’s eye. For my dad and for all
of us this was and is what authentic living is all
about, Bruce Larson, in Charles Swindoll, Living
Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.124-5.
C. The Christian’s PERSPECTIVE
1. God will bless us who take such a view of
the things of this world. Vs. 10 - “Whoever can be
trusted with very little can also be trusted with
much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will
also be dishonest with much.”
a. Jesus is saying here “that those who handle wisely
the things of the world IN ORDER TO MINISTER
TO OTHERS will be entrusted with more so that
they can MINISTER TO MORE.
1. In other words, the Christian businessman who
USES his business and money to reach lost
people through his business will be given more
business so that he can help others spiritually
2. If you are faithful in your business when it is
small to reach others for Christ, then He will
grant you an even bigger arena
2. Especially those whose total heart is the gospel vs. 13 -
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will
hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted
to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve
both God and Money.”
a. Now, realize that God is speaking of those who are
TOTALLY committed using their gifts, talents,
money and business for the Kingdom’s sake
b. Don’t expect to be blessed by God WHILE YOU
BUILD YOUR KINGDOM. God will have no part
Did your ever think that the pagan would be a model for the Christian life?
1. They serve to us as a model of dedication and commitments
a. Are you as committed to the gospel as your pagan friends are to reaching
b. They are a better pagan than you are a Christian
2. But don’t allow yourselves to be sucked up into the world. Use the things
of this world to make an impact on pagans.
a. First of all, things are all that they understand
b. And two, wouldn’t it be exciting to see a pagan who is that driven, focused
and aggressive as a worker in this ministry of Christ?
1. I was that kind of pagan
2. Now using that same drive for the kingdom.
One Chicago youth pastor came up with a clever way to keep his group on track.
Concerned that the balmy beaches of Florida – the sight of their upcoming
evangelism trip – would lure the teens from their purpose, he fashioned a cross
from two peices of lumber. Just before they climbed on the bus, he showed it to
the group. “I want all of you to remember that the whole purpose of our going
is to glorify the name of Christ, to lift up the Cross—the message of the
Cross, the emphasis of the Cross, the Christ of the Cross,” he announced.
“So we’re going to take this cross wherever we go.” The teenagers looked at
one another, a little unsure of his plan. But they agreed to do it and dragged the
cross on the bus. It banged back and forth in the aisle all the way to Florida. It
went with them into restaurants. It stayed overnight where they stayed overnight.
It stood in the sand while they ministered on the beach. At first, lugging the cross
around embarrassed the kids. But later, it became a point of identification. That
cross was a constant, silent reminder of who they were and why they had
come. They eventually regarded carrying it as an honor and privilege. The
night before they went home, the youth leader handed out two nails to each
of the kids. He told them that if they wanted to commit themselves to what the
cross stood for, then they could hammer one nail into it and keep the other with
them. One by one, the teens drove their nails into the cross. About fifteen years
later, one fellow—now a stockbroker—called the youth leader. He told him that
he still keeps that nail with him in his desk drawer. Whenever he loses his
sense of focus, he looks for the nail and remembers the cross on that beach in
Florida. It reminds him of what is at the core of his life—his commitment to