The Clever Rascal: The Unjust Steward
Tonight’s subject is “The Clever Rascal.” This is taken from the 16th chapter of the Book of Luke. There’s a story told there of an unjust steward. There’s a very rich man who had a steward and charges were brought against the steward that he was wasting his man’s goods. So he called the steward and told him to turn in his stewardship, for he could no longer represent him. The steward went out and got all of the debtors and asked each in turn what they owed his master. “The first one said, ‘One hundred measures of oil.’ He said, ‘Sit down and write, quickly, fifty measure of oil.’ Then he said to the second, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ ‘You sit down and you write eighty.’” And so, he falsified the entire record of his master, making friends for himself. For he felt, I am too weak to work and too proud to beg, and so by doing this I’ll make these friends of mine, so when I’m fired from my job they will know that they are in my debt. For I gave this one fifty percent of what he really owed, and that one twenty percent of what he owed; and so at least to this extent they are indebted to me. When his master heard what he had done, the master highly commended him for his prudence. Then he said to those to whom he told the story, ‘Make for yourself friends of the unrighteous mammon. For if you are not faithful to that unrighteous mammon, who will trust you when it comes to the real riches of the world?’”
Now, a parable has a central jet of truth and the outer story is secondary to its meaning, what it really tries to convey. He is not recommending the man who stole his master’s goods or falsified the master’s records; it’s a story. What is its meaning? That’s the important thing. And what are the real riches against the so-called riches of the unrighteous mammon? Well, the Encyclopedia Britannica defines for us the word righteous as “equitable, just, right thinking,” therefore “unrighteous” would be the opposite. It would not be just, it would be unjust. It would not be right thinking, just the opposite of right thinking. Now, what is right thinking? If today I reflect on the activities of the day and I have a hundred percent recall, I would have a perfect record of what happened today.
If I had a perfect recall, that when we had dinner, for instance, I should not only know what I ate but the order in which I ate it, the chronological order. Did I take this piece before that? Did I take a sip of coffee with the meal or after the meal? Everything in the day—the mail as I received it, as I opened it, not only as I opened it, my reactions to the mail—everything should be perfectly recalled if my memory is perfect and I have a hundred percent recall.
So memory is the conservative aspect of imagining. So I recall the day; that is right thinking, that’s righteous mammon. But I don’t like what happened today, and I’m invited to emulate the unjust steward and simply recall the day and simply revise every little aspect of the day that does not conform to the day as I wish I had encountered.
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