The parable of the ungust steward and our mission as believers

Published on 10 March 2023 at 13:43

What we read in the Bible is not just for information purposes, uncovering some secrets or the meaning of certain things, but it is to improve our lives and relationship with God. Therefore, what we read or what He gives us to understand is also for us to practice. When we read or understand something from the Bible, it's important to put it into practice. My desire is to be able to practice what I'm about to say, even though I have to admit I often struggle, especially in the area of this topic.

Let’s look the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16:1-15


1 He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’

“Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’

“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 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.

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

In this parable, Jesus provides us with wise counsel. Towards the end of the passage, Jesus talks about unjust riches, also known as "unrighteous mammon." This is how He refers to money and riches in general. In this case, it is not because those riches were acquired in an unrighteous way. Through this parable, He was warning people not to be selfish, and not to love mammon (wealth) above God. He advised them to remain faithful even in small matters, such as material possessions like money and other items. Money and material possessions are the least in God’s eyes, but nevertheless, we need to be faithful with them and use them for good purposes instead of selfish reasons. We will not just talk about money here, but also about the general idea that these verses discuss. We understand the concept up to this point.

We must understand that this parable has a deeper meaning than can be seen at first glance. In the beginning, there is a rich man we can assume represents God because He is rich and abounding in everything. There is also His steward. The parable tells us that the steward had mismanaged the rich man’s goods. For this reason, he was found unfaithful. Reading the story, I had to ask myself if I was just and righteous in everything. Am I faithful in everything? Am I fulfilling everything God requires of me? The parable talks about a person in the Kingdom of God: a person already born again who knows the will of His master. And speaking about “being unjust,” we are not referring to someone sinning deliberately but a person trying to accomplish everything required of him but still unable. If we are honest with ourselves, we (at least I) realize that sometimes we fall short of what we should do or how we carry out His will even though we desire to please God. We are, therefore, not talking about someone doing something wrong but a person who fails to accomplish all that is expected of him. In essence, it is about whether or not we complete our tasks. We can compare this to the role of the steward, who had specific duties. In the same way, as Christians, God will give us responsibilities in the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s have a look at how the parable begins:

“He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.” (Luke 16:1)

He was called “the unjust steward’ because he was wasting his master’s goods. He didn’t steal the goods but was wasting them. He wasn’t making good use of them. I often found myself in similar situations. Despite being zealous for God and seeking Him with all my strength, I was still not completely satisfied. I knew I was not fully pleasing the master. There was something missing in my life as a believer.

We see this steward being unfaithful with his master’s goods but then finding a solution.

“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said ‘A hundred measures of oil’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill and sit down quickly and write fifty’” (Luke 16:5, 6)

In the same way, he did with the other one. We see that what he was doing benefited other people. In this way, he somehow sorted out his situation because his master commended him for his actions. His master was pleased with him as, in a shrewd way, he assisted others to pay their debt. We assume he helped them because he told them to write less than what they owed. He made it easier for them. Why did this act please his master? Because it was going to be easier for the debtors to pay their debt back. Of course, people would rather get some of their money back instead of not getting anything at all. In this way, the debtors would also be on good terms with the master. He said to the one owing a hundred measures of oil: “Take your bill and sit down quickly and write fifty,” To the other one owing a hundred measures of wheat, he said to write eighty.

We need to understand that this is just a parable and a comparison with what happens in the spiritual world. It does not have to be taken literally. This is true for all parables. We might be thinking: “What does God have to do with people owing a hundred measures of oil or wheat, and what does this all mean?” Similarly, people may have wondered about the relevance of the seed and soil in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-9). The people were probably asking: “What does God have to do with seeds and soil?” Jesus later explained its meaning. We see that when it comes to parables, we need to look for the spiritual meaning and confirm it with other passages from scripture. This leads to the possibility that not the entire meaning of this parable has to do with literal riches or money, but the attitude behind them.

So, going back to the parable of the unjust steward, it's not clear exactly what he did, but he likely helped pay back other people’s debts. In any case, he did what he did, and the master was pleased because it made it easier for those people to pay back what they owed.

You know that when people owe a lot of money, it's hard for them to pay it back and they often don't. But in this case, with the help of the shrewd steward, they were able to. This also helped the master to gain the trust and confidence of the people, and some could even have become his servants.

The Bible states that we need to carry each one’s burdens.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.“ (Galatians 6:2)   

We observe that in a way, he carried the debtors’ burdens. This is something that someone will do for the sake of love. We all have a debt to God as those people had to their master. The debt represents our sins. Obviously, Christ paid the debt for us, but there is also our walk of faith to receive this promise. In the parable, what the steward did for them was to help them believe it was possible. He helped them in part. We can lead others to Christ and help them in part, but they need to walk the rest of the path. They need to believe and answer the call. No one else can do it for them. When they answer the call and accept the love of Jesus, their debt is paid in full. This is done by Jesus. It is His work. The parable shows as part of the picture, what we can do through Him. In reality, we know that He is the one who paid the whole debt. We can see that the steward paid one part of the debt, and the rest was for them to sort out. Jesus helped him to do that. This is the meaning of it.  None of us can pay anything by ourselves; none of us can properly help our neighbor by ourselves. Even leading others to Christ depends on God’s power working through us. No one can lead another man to Jesus’ feet except by His Spirit and power. When people come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and redemption, it is because God helps them and allows them to receive that forgiveness. Once again, it shows that Jesus is involved in that. He paid for their sins. We see He is involved when somebody leads another person to the cross, his sins are forgiven there by His sacrifice, and He is involved in the personal relationship that person will have with Him after that. He is present in the believer’s conversion from the beginning to the end, and everything happens by His power. All the glory be to Him!

In the parable, the steward managed to help one person with fifty, the other with twenty, as he told him to write eighty instead of the hundred that he was owing. “Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’” (Luke 16:7) All the people in the story owed a hundred. A hundred is a whole number and the use of it is not a coincidence, it shows us something important. A believer can only help another person in part. They can help with twenty or fifty or even more, but they can never pay off the entire debt. It means that the complete solution doesn’t come from a person, even if he is a very dedicated believer. It is important to be guided by the Spirit of God when leading others to the complete solution, Christ. When I talk about leading someone to Christ, I am not just talking about leading someone in the sinner’s prayer, which can happen, but setting a good example. We should demonstrate through our daily conduct how to live for Christ and by sharing the good news of the gospel through preaching.

Each person's case is different, and our approach depends on their individual needs. We may need to impact a particular area of their life to a certain extent, while for others, it may be a different area. I am not speaking about a humanistic kind of help, but a spiritual one, with the power of His Spirit. In addition, there is the spiritual kind of love. We cannot practice this love without experiencing His love first. The Bible says that love fulfills the law. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.“ (Romans 13:8, emphasis added) and “Love does not harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.“ (Romans 13:10)

We just need to show this kind of Biblical love and be led by it. This will determine how we are going to be used. We can never comprehend with our logic the kind of help someone needs. I am using the word “used” here with a lot of fear and respect because we are nothing without Him. We cannot do anything of lasting value if we are not in the hands of the master. Yes, we may attempt to do things our way and with our capabilities, but they will never result in anything fruitful in the eyes of God. Going back to the beginning of the parable, we see that the steward couldn’t accomplish what was required of him. He did not bear fruit and he wasn’t productive for his master. I sometimes identify myself with the steward, not bearing fruit for God.

We can see that God is very pleased with the kind of love that focuses on the needs of others. Love is not selfish, “does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

At the same time, we see Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for loving money and being selfish.

“Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:14,15)

Obviously, it is not just money we are talking about here. The love for things like money is just a manifestation of our selfishness. Jesus was telling those people to be faithful with the so-called “unjust riches” and to share them with others. We can look at the spiritual side of this parable warning us not to be selfish, and the practical side that is addressing actual possessions like material wealth and money. The Pharisees loved money and didn’t appreciate Jesus' teachings on this topic. Jesus referred to wealth as “mammon,” “unrighteous,” and “least” to downplay its importance. He wanted us to know that material wealth is insignificant. It cannot make us inherit the kingdom, and that’s why it is called “unrighteous”. Because material wealth is not righteous in itself, it cannot be used to gain access or buy our way into the kingdom. By calling it “unrighteous,” He did not mean it was obtained in an unrighteous way, as we often think when we hear this word.

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10, 11)

Do you remember the story of Simon, the magician, who wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit? He was told his money would perish with him and encouraged to repent of his sin. Money cannot guarantee us entrance into the Kingdom even if we use it for charity work, or spend it to help someone. Salvation is a gift donated to us that we receive by faith in Jesus. Money cannot buy it. Still, it is a tool that can be used to benefit the Kingdom because we live in a world where money is necessary. Money, in and of itself, is not important and will perish like anything else on earth. When we understand this truth, we will not cling to wealth so much. People hold on to it because they don’t see and believe in what is eternal. Some people will even neglect their loved ones to acquire more money. People are obsessed with getting more and more money because they believe it gives them power. The Scriptures also call money, "the root of all evil." (1 Timothy 6:10).

I think it is very difficult to escape the snare of money and to stop giving it so much significance. The way out is a true conversion to the Lord. This is how people stop giving so much importance to material possessions and start appreciating what is eternal. They understand that having treasures in heaven is more valuable than anything else because they endure forever. But how can someone understand this truth? Only through genuine faith. A person needs to be convinced by the Spirit of God to understand this truth. I am not saying that people should renounce everything, but they must realize what is of real value. The Bible tells us we can have what is necessary for our livelihood (1 Timothy 6:6-8). Believers can even be wealthy. There is nothing wrong with that unless we love those riches above God and His will. Some rich people profit from their businesses and use their wealth to support God's kingdom. They are blessed by God for doing this and help the kingdom to grow. Throughout this parable, Jesus was explaining that if we have material riches at our disposal, we need to use them for the growth of the kingdom in addition to meeting our own needs. By doing so, we can reap eternal rewards not just temporary benefits.

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:9, 10)

Let me clarify the point. It is not that God’s kingdom can be bought with money, but that it can be used with understanding so that God’s will can be accomplished here on earth. Instead of using money for selfish purposes like buying a better car, we can invest it in something useful for the kingdom. I am just using random examples and not judging anyone who wants to buy a good car for themselves.  Maybe we can even have this after we have attended to what is really important. We need His Spirit for guidance and wisdom when it comes to giving and investing in the kingdom. It is not a question of giving more than others, but understanding what to give and doing it for the right reasons as we are led by the Spirit. This parable is a representation and comparison of both the spiritual and material worlds. More than a representation of an exact point or object. it reveals to us God’s heart and the way He sees things.

The main idea is not to be selfish.  If I help build a church, it is because the word of God will be preached there. If I buy a pair of shoes for someone, it is because I care for him, and would also like to talk to him about God and evangelize him. Both actions are right and are connected to the Kingdom.

I can also buy a Bible for someone for the same reason. The scriptures teach us how to give the right way. We should not sound a trumpet (attract attention) when we do a charitable deed (Matthew 6:2). Instead, we should do it for God and give Him the glory. The most important part of this story is the spiritual aspect, although we must keep in mind that if we follow this teaching, as any other biblical teaching, it will also positively affect our physical life. We will now continue to discuss the spiritual perspective of this parable without neglecting the material one.

After receiving His love through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, it is up to us whether we want to share it or not. We need to have the desire to do so. Love is perfection, as the apostle Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)

Love covers a multitude of sins. “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”“ (1 Peter 4:8)  

All of us lack something, none of us are perfect in everything. But having this love in our lives combined with faith, and directed to others, will cover our imperfections. Love is interested in others welfare; cares and is close to them. Sometimes all it takes is a simple: “How are you doing?”                                  

In the past, I tried many times to be more spiritual. I wanted to reach others with the word. Sometimes I succeeded, but many times I failed. This led me to feel deluded and frustrated. Then I discovered this love (that I had already received from God). It taught me how to be more interested in others and how to serve them. You know what happened? I received more of His Spirit, and I was able to share more of His word to people and to testify to them.

Often, what we want to do is just meet someone and start proclaiming the word of God and convert them right there on the spot. Of course, it can happen, but it is not the same for each person. What God requires of us is different from what we think. He wants us to show His love. When we do, God can reward us with special moments when we can meet someone, give out His word and the person gets converted by the power of God. The love and the heart of God we carry is the main ingredient for such encounters.

I remember the early years. I had great zeal to tell people about God and His word. Even though I was trying, I was often deluded because of their responses. I did not know how to relate to them. I hardly laughed or tried to have a good time with them. Because of my zeal, all I wanted to talk about was the Bible. I was not open to other topics. There was nothing wrong with my desire, but I was not humble. I didn't want to lower myself to someone else's level. I didn’t take the time listen to them so that I could know and understand them better; their likes and dislikes. People will convert to God, not only because we hammer them with God’s words, but by the godly example of our lives. While we should share the word of God with others, it should happen naturally when the opportunity arises and when He guides us and gives us the right words.

It's important to get to know someone and have a conversation with them before explaining the truths of the gospel.  This is where being "shrewd" comes in, as Luke 16:8 tells us.

“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.”

We are not speaking about being shrewd like the children of this world who deceive maliciously, but being shrewd in how we can effectively share the gospel with others.  The way His Spirit gives us. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.  

 For this reason, when approaching someone, try to make them interested and willing to listen. We should first try to make friends with them so that they are eventually open to hearing the gospel. I am not saying we should get entangled with their sin.     

 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.“ (Luka 16:9) 

Of course this doesn’t apply to someone lying on his deathbed with no time left. In such situations, we need to get straight to the word because of the limited time. We need to have an understanding given by the Spirit of God of what the right method is for the different cases we encounter.

Even Jesus was called a friend of sinners. He humbled himself to their level.. He set a great example. Jesus humbled himself by coming to earth and spent time with sinners, showing them compassion, and sharing the good news. How much more should we who are redeemed sinners (nothing more and nothing less if not by His Grace), follow His example. I must confess that I have often neglected what I am sharing, but my desire is to follow the example of love that Jesus set before us.

We can also look at the situation with the Pharisees and the Scribes. They wanted to be perfect and accomplish the whole law. That’s why they started adding many other insignificant laws to the main laws that Moses gave.

“And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men – the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” (Mark 7:7,8)

What happened was that they neglected the most important ones like mercy and justice. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23)

In the same way, we also want to be righteous, to accomplish things, but not for the glory of God (even if it might look so). We want to be pure and abstain from certain things. When we fail, we get frustrated. All this can take our sight off what God really wants from us – to reach others and to show His glory to others. He is so interested in our relationships with others. Don’t you see? Half the Bible speaks about our relationship with Him, and the other half – the relationship with others. I’m saying this because sometimes we are so focused on being perfect and pure (I am not saying at all that this is wrong), that we neglect the people around us, which is also very important. However, I am not saying that we should ignore our personal problems and focus only on helping others if we have serious issues in our own lives. I am only saying that sometimes we focus on self-righteousness rather than helping others and giving them hope through the good news. Our joy mustn’t be based only on the fact that we haven’t sinned in a while, but because we see that we are accomplishing God’s will. Reaching others with God’s love and the gospel is God’s main focus. That is why He is working and perfecting His image in us so that we can be more like Him and have the love to reach out to others. Being transformed into His image and living in righteousness does not mean we should exalt ourselves by displaying it to others. The primary motivation is to please God, and second, to set an example of what pleases Him and how people should live for Him. For this reason, we mustn’t neglect the desire to be pure in our lives and to walk in the right way. By doing so, we can set an example for the people we are trying to reach out to and the message we share will be powerful in us. 

I am not saying that we shouldn’t focus on being pure. I am just saying it’s easier when we are in the presence of God and His power is working through us. But how will it be more effective and evident in us than when we are reaching out to others? All these things are connected - being pure, and seeking God for ourselves and for others. I’m obviously addressing those born again, who have been sealed by His love. Without being born again and experiencing His love ourselves, we cannot have and show His love. If someone is not born from God, he will only show a humanistic kind of love that, unfortunately, has its limits. But the love of God is what is described in 1 Corinthians 13.

If you already know God, do you know what He wants you to do? Well, one obvious calling, is reaching others. Often, this doesn’t happen by going and bluntly sharing the word with them, but by being interested in them.

As Christians, we may also live selfishly, even when it comes to our spiritual life. To be always worried only about our relationship with God, if we are fine or have accomplished something, without considering the need of others. I am not saying this is wrong, but I believe the secret to pleasing God (I am talking to those who are born again already) is to direct our sight toward others and to inquire if they are fine with Him. To check if they have a relationship with Him or are lost and need a Savior.

This obviously means to give a hand to others, not pushing them away further from the truth by criticizing them for their faults. Automatically, our relationship with Him will be closer because it pleases Him to see us reaching out to others. This is the reason He came - to give His life for us. He died thinking of us. We don’t see selfishness in His actions. His justice could have been satisfied even if He let us pay for our mistakes, but He chose not to. He died so that we could have an opportunity to be redeemed.

Matthew 9:36 says Jesus had compassion for the multitudes because they were weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. He could see the need in them. As believers, we should also try to see when others need help like Jesus did.

The Pharisees were called lovers of money in Luke 16:14 because of their selfishness. I mentioned earlier that money isn't the only reason we're speaking about this topic even though it is part of the consideration. The love of God goes much beyond that since someone can give His possessions away but still not have love, as it is said in 1 Corinthians 13:3.

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.“ (Galatians 6:2)

We see that in this way, we accomplish the law. Something that the steward in Luke 16 couldn’t do. He was found not faithful. Love accomplishes the law and covers a multitude of sins (ours as well).

“let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20) 

God is interested in other people’s lives. If we want to be one with Him, we need to see as He sees. Then our joy will multiply. As scripture says in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

And this is what the parable in Luke 16 is about. We need to invest time in others and take a genuine interest in them. We can’t expect to receive blessing after blessing simply by living ordinary lives without doing what is important in God’s eyes.

When talking about love, Paul talks of it as something excellent and perfect. He said in 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.“

To live out love means to be mature in Him. I am not talking about the kind of love that lets people do whatever they want to do and agrees with everything. No! The real love found in Jesus has a specific character; it does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.  Love corrects what is wrong.

If our life with God is based only on accomplishing and doing things, even having zeal, then we will surely fail in some of them. We will never be satisfied. He wants to show us a more perfect and excellent way.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

We see that the last verse in this passage encourages us to be perfect. The verses before that speak about true love. Often showing interest, caring, or showing love to others is considered the least. We are talking about simple gestures like asking someone how they’re doing or talking to them to understand their needs.. We may not always be able to share the word of God with others, but we can show care by listening and being interested in them. When the time is right, God will open the door for the gospel to be shared. The word of God says: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” This verse is found in Luke 16:10 which comes after the parable of the unjust servant. It encourages us to be interested even in people who are the ‘least,’ those who seem unimportant. Jesus often referred to them as the “little ones.” Usually, only a few people pay attention to someone who is considered ‘little one,’ or of least importance. That’s why Jesus explained in one of His parables why we should: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did It to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

When we go through tough times, we may wonder how we can bear and endure. Well, the answer is found in love. Scripture tells us that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Even when we struggle with doubt or go through trials, we can still show love. We can look for it, and approach those in need to show them love. Love helps us overcome trials and difficult moments. Many people isolate themselves from others when going through challenging situations, especially Christians. They focus on prayer and examining themselves. There is nothing wrong with praying and examining ourselves; it is necessary in times of trials. However, we should not forget the advice given to us in the Bible. It says: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38, emphasis added)

This passage does not only have practical principles, but spiritual ones as well. We need to give spiritually so that we can receive something from God. Obviously, praying and reading the Word are important and must always accompany us, but God is pleased when we give to others. How do we give? By showing love and proclaiming His word. God’s desire is for us to give out what we receive. This is one of the reasons why He gives us His word and blesses us. Sometimes we may wonder why we do not receive as much as we expected after praying for a long time, reading His word, and fasting (which is something we obviously need to do). It is because we may have neglected the part of giving in our lives.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” (Matthew 24:45)

This is another passage about giving. It talks about “feeding” others, but in a spiritual manner.

“The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” (Proverbs 11:25)

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

All these passages that speak about giving and being generous can be applied in the physical realm. However, the Bible generally places significance on the spiritual aspect as this is the most important. Our souls will one day be saved.

We can conclude that in order to receive, we need to give. God is pleased when we do this. We must start by feeding ourselves with the word and prayer. This is essential because what can we give if we haven’t received from Him? When we give of what we have received, He multiplies it in our hands and blesses us even more. Our strength is multiplied. This is like the story in the Bible when the disciples gave those few loaves of bread and fish to Jesus to feed the five thousand people (Mark 6:30-44). They were few to begin with, but they multiplied. The multiplication only happened after they placed them in the hands of Jesus for the purpose of feeding the people.

Looking at the parables that come before and after the parable of the unjust steward, we can see that they are connected. The one that precedes it is the parable of the prodigal son. Like the unjust steward, he also wasted his wealth but we see that he repented and returned home to His father. Everything was fine, besides the attitude of the older brother. He did not want to join in the celebrations for his younger brother (Luke 16:28-30). Right after this, Jesus started telling the parable of the unjust steward. After He had finished, He provided His final recommendations regarding its meaning. He then told another parable about a beggar, Lazarus, and a rich man who lived in luxury.

From what we can see in the parable, there was nothing wrong with him living in luxury. The mistake was in his lack of generosity. The rich man did not help or give Lazarus anything at all (Luke 16:20, 21). He was living selfishly. He could have been a believer or knew the law because he called Abraham his father (Luke 16:24). Nevertheless, he was living for himself.

Could the parables of the prodigal son, the unjust steward, and the rich man and Lazarus be connected with the intention to advise us not to live selfishly and love our neighbor? Is Jesus using the parable of the unjust steward and the rich man and Lazarus to reproach the older son’s attitude in the parable of the prodigal son? He didn’t receive his younger brother with love and complained when his brother returned home. By telling the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus was most likely saying that even while staying at home, like the older brother, and living an apparently good and religious life, we can still be wasting our master’s goods.  The prodigal son went away and lived a sinful life, but the older brother also erred by not having the right attitude while living in the father's house and only thinking about himself. Through the two parables that follow the one about the prodigal son, Jesus encourages believers to live selfless Christian lives that please the Lord. Being in the house of the Father is not enough. In Luke 15, which comes right before these two parables, Jesus addresses the topic of those who are lost through three parables: the parable of the lost coin, the parable of the lost sheep, and the parable of the prodigal son.

The last parable concludes by introducing the role of the older brother. Following this, Jesus commences teaching about attitude through the next two parables - the unjust steward and the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16). These parables deal with the attitude of someone who has always been in the father's house and is accountable for what God has given them. God holds us all accountable before Him, and this is something that we as believers can relate to. It is not just the sinners or those who do not know Him that will be held accountable, but also those who belong to Him.

People today are trying to discover the secrets of the universe and the depths of wisdom, but if we can say so, love is at the center of all. It is so fundamental because love was the motivation for the sacrifice on the cross and we can be saved because of it. God created humans and placed emotions and passions in us. We are not like the rest of the creation, having just primal instincts. There is more to us. We have souls and feelings, and among them is love.

God didn't create His love to compare it with the love we feel; on the contrary, He gave us our emotions, including love, to compare it to His love. This is there to make us understand that life is more than just surviving day by day. God created something powerful and placed it in us: love. He gave us feelings of love, and we see them between a man and a woman or parents and their children. The Bible is full of such examples to help us understand the love of God. We can find many passages representing Christ as the bridegroom and the church or each believer individually as the bride (John 3:29), (2 Corinthians 11:2), (Revelation 21:2).

The entire book of Song of Solomon discusses the love between a man and a woman, which represents the love between Christ and the church (us). God has blessed us with this beautiful sense and feeling to remind us that we are not here merely to exist and survive, led by our instincts, but for a higher purpose. Sadly, in today's world, love and other beautiful feelings are being suppressed and disregarded.

There are two fundamental aspects that govern our lives: consumption and pleasure. They have become an integral part of our lives. Some people even avoid getting married. Everyone is being incited to prioritize their own well-being over others. Perhaps this is a tactic of the enemy to deprive us of feelings connected to the love of God. I am not saying that our love is the same as the love of God. His love is unconditional and goes beyond our limits. It gets us to walk two miles instead of one, and to forgive those who harm us. Still, our love, even being just a shadow of His love, is there to show us that we are created for a purpose.

There is a bond between love, faith, and hope; they complement and reinforce each other, but the strongest of the three is love. It often leads us to faith and hope. Whenever we feel a lack of either faith or hope, we can always turn to love. Of course, it is faith which comes first, and through it we get saved. However, we mustn’t forget that we are saved because the love of God that reached us first and helped us to have faith.

I said the things above for those who are already saved. In this case, the steward was already participating in God’s Kingdom, but like many Christians who are already saved, he was not demonstrating love and was not giving it value. I understand when someone says that to love is a choice. For those already saved, it is, but for those who are not saved yet, it is impossible to have it. They still need to be reached by the love of God. The parable in Matthew 25:31-46, which speaks about reaching out to 'the least of these' as Jesus said, is intended for believers. It refers to what is expected of believers.

With all that I have said, my purpose is not to promote human love. If we examine it closely, that kind of love always has self-interest attached to it and an expectation of reward. In contrast, the love of God is pure and not selfish because it reflects His heart. The reward for such love comes from God.

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