When you first read this parable, it seems confusing. Is Jesus really praising a man for being dishonest?
Of course not.
Jesus is praising the steward for looking at his situation and trying to make sure he was settled for the future with either hospitality or another job. The steward knew he was too weak to dig and was ashamed to beg. He decided that lowering the invoices to the debtors would buy their good will. He thought they might forget his previous dealings and feel obligated to help him since he helped them.
There has been some discussion that the costs he was cutting out of their bills was his commission. If that is true, he was decreasing his income for future gain. Jesus calls this shrewdness, because he is “making friends with unrighteous wealth”. Jesus goes on to say, in verses 8-9, “…For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of the light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings”.
Jesus is using this parable to show that we have a choice. Are we going to rely on God for our earthly needs or are we going to rely on ourselves?
If we rely on ourselves for our earthly needs, we hold on to the gifts that God has given us, including money. If we rely on God, then we will give of the gifts that we have received from God. For as Jesus says in Mt 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.
Does this mean that we should not have savings? Again, No.
But don’t put all your trust in your savings or your earning capacity. That would mean you are relying on yourself, not on God. Be willing to be generous to those in need.
Jesus has said in another text that “love of money is the root of all evil”. In this parable Jesus tells us “No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money”.
Offer the person standing on the corner a sandwich. Be willing to put fuel in someone’s car when he or she is in need. Be generous in your giving without your own family being in need.