Sermon for 07.17.22 “The Shrewd Steward”

Sermon for 07.17.22 6th Sunday after Pentecost

Text: Luke 16:1–14

Theme: The Shrewd Steward

1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.

1. Luke 16:1-14 serves as our sermon text for this morning. which reads
as follows:

1He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager,
and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.

2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you?
Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’

3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is
taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am
ashamed to beg.

4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management,
people may receive me into their houses.’

5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first,
‘How much do you owe my master?’

6He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill,
and sit down quickly and write fifty.’

7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred
measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’

8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the
sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation
than the sons of light.

9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous
wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal

10“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and
one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will
entrust to you the true riches?

12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will
give you that which is your own?

13No 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.”

14The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and
they ridiculed him.

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

1. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our heavenly Father and from our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

1. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:


[image: image.png] A. As I mentioned , chapter 16 of the Gospel of Luke
serves as our text for this morning and let’s get right to the difficult
verse, verse 9:
– “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous
wealth [wicked mammon], so that when it fails [runs out], they
may receive
[welcome] you into the eternal dwellings.” This is the Word of the Lord.

4. Three things about Jesus’ teaching are going to help us understand
this parable.
1. Today’s Gospel forces us to face at least three things about Jesus’
teaching that are going help us with verse 9.
1. First, pastors preach mainly to one group, and we’re all on the
same team—same beliefs, same goals.
1. Yeah, there are young, old, happy, or stressed out, and we
have to try to give medicine that somehow helps everybody,
and for little
guys, that’s plenty.
2. But when we’re talking about Jesus’ hearers, welcome to the
big leagues. Most of the time, he was addressing two or
more groups, goals,
beliefs, disciples, crowds, enemies—and he’s the Master.
3. He even had two kinds of enemies that didn’t even like each
other try to gang up on him and trap him in his own words, and,
to this day, even people who don’t know the story say at
tax time, “Render
unto Caesar.”
4. We just got through looking at the parables that Jesus spoke
to both the sinners and the religious leaders, and when he
was done, the
shoes always fit: the sinners believed in him, which is
what he wanted, and
those with religious pride wanted to kill him, which is
what he wanted.
Something for everybody. That’s the first thing to remember.

1. The second thing is that Jesus used a lot of bad people as positive
1. When he was teaching us to be persistent in prayer, remember
the man who wouldn’t give bread to his friend in the middle
of the night,
but finally would give it just to get rid of him (Luke11:5–13)?
2. If persistence works with a bad person, won’t it work with God,
who is good?
3. Jesus taught the same thing using a judge who did not fear God
and did not respect man (Luke 18:1–7).

1. Thirdly, there’s the “treasure hidden in a field” (Matthew 13:44).
1. Here’s a guy who knows the land is worth more than what the
owner thinks and makes it his life’s work to get it!
2. That’s bad.
3. That is a sin against the Ninth Commandment.
4. And in the parable, God is the buyer!
5. But, again, he uses the savviness of sinners to illustrate even
God’s desperate act of love.

1. Which brings me to a third thing about Jesus.
1. Sometimes, because of the doctrine of Jesus’ sinlessness, we
can imagine that if he had come instead into our day and
time, he would
have been this awkward, inward guy who didn’t know about the
stock market,
or how extortion works, or whether people worked under the
table or had
surpluses on their EBT cards.
2. He’s just off in his own little world and doesn’t sin because
he just never thought about it much.

1. This is all fiction.
1. Two thousand years ago, in Galilee, Jesus was savvy.
2. He knew the stunts people pulled in business and why they work
and who gets hurt.
3. He had tools, contracts, and customers.
4. He knew about “go along to get along” and “get rich quick” and
“do unto others and run.”
5. He was smarter than everyone else, and more clever.
6. Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove.

1. The reason he didn’t sin is not because he didn’t have the skill or
1. He didn’t because he wouldn’t.
2. He loved his Father too much to sin against him, and he loved
you too much to let you down.

3. The steward shrewdly sweetens his golden parachute by putting the
boss in a pickle and implicating his clients.
1. So, as was said at the beginning, Jesus spoke to multiple audiences.
1. Well, here Jesus spoke to his disciples, but when he’s done, we
find out in verse 14 that there were eavesdroppers:
1. “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things,
and they ridiculed him.”

1. So do you think that Jesus was savvy enough to know who was listening
and savvy enough to include something for everybody?

1. Well, in this parable, Jesus talks about money, as he did a lot,
because he knows what is near and dear to our hearts.
1. He uses a man who’s a scoundrel through and through as an
example, and, remember, Jesus made up this story, he invented
the scoundrel
and all his stunts, because he knows real life in our world
through and

1. The manager, or steward, was in a crisis.
1. He was reported to his boss as squandering his possessions, and
he knew he was not in a position to deny it.
2. The shell game was over.
3. All he had was a pink slip and the logbook to turn in.
4. Did he decide to admit what he was and get his hands dirty with
good honest work or at least come clean and ask the boss for mercy?
5. Heck no.
6. His heart was not divided.
7. He appealed to his god, mammon.
8. If you enjoy plots that twist and turn, this guy is poetry in

1. First, he approaches those who owe his rich boss money.
1. He makes friends for himself by discounting their debts.
2. He does it one at a time, so each thinks he’s special.
3. Take your bill and knock off half, buddy!
4. Now they love him, so maybe he’ll have a place to live and work
once he’s fired.
5. They love his rich boss too, because they think this all too
generous gesture was the boss’s idea!
6. It was a brilliant plan. What could go wrong?

1. Now the boss is in a pickle.
1. How will it look if he goes through with firing the steward,
right after he lowered their bills?
2. Does he then tell his customers the truth about their bills?
3. They’d all hate him.

1. The steward who got fired knew just how to sweeten his golden
1. Just in case his new friends weren’t grateful enough to welcome
him into their homes, he had dirt on them!
2. He’d involved them in a criminal conspiracy, to set them up for
extortion later.
3. Remember, he had them take their bills and lower them.

1. The prophet Amos called it making the bushel smaller and the shekel
bigger, and cheating with dishonest scales (cf Amos 8:5).
1. We call it conspiracy to defraud.
2. And the employer praised the dishonest steward for his
cleverness (cf verse 8a): “Do you believe this guy? He’s been
bleeding me
dry, and the day he’s exposed and fired he picks my pocket on
the way out!
3. Takes one to know one.
4. To their own kind, the sons of this world seem more clever than
sons of light (cf verse 8b).

2. There’s something in that for everyone . . .
1. What a pathetic ending!
1. The conniver,
2. the blackmailed,
3. and the pragmatists, all handcuffed together on the island of
4. Who would even dream up a story like this? Jesus would and did.
5. Why? He knows how the children of this world think.
6. And there’s something for everybody.

1. So what’s in the story for the eavesdropping Pharisees, who loved
1. Of course, when Jesus talked about money, the Pharisees smirked
at him, as in, “If you’re so smart, how come you’re broke?”
2. After all, how much did Jesus own—that unemployed vagrant
preacher who created the universe out of nothing and kept it
existing by
his all-powerful word?

1. These words were directed at them, those Pharisees, and all who
worship the god mammon: then use wicked mammon to make yourself friends.
1. What kind of friends?
2. Friends in low places.
3. Then be children of this world; let them call you clever, so
that when the money runs out, your friends will take you with
them into
eternal housing.
4. Ultimately, Jesus is talking about hell.

1. And what’s in the story for the disciples, the children of light?
1. He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in
much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is
unrighteous also
in much. If you couldn’t be trusted with wicked mammon, who’s going to
trust you with real wealth? If you couldn’t be trusted with
somebody else’s
property, who’s going to give you something for your own?
(verses 10–12) .

1. All this money and stuff we thought we owned was somebody else’s
property all along.
1. Christ is the sole owner.
2. All human beings are managers of some part of his property.
3. No one’s got any choice about that.
4. We can be honest managers or dishonest, trustworthy or
untrustworthy, but if we’re human beings, all things we have
he’s richly
given us to manage for the moment.
5. And his orders are pretty simple:
1. Don’t waste it.
2. Enjoy it,
3. but don’t squander it on yourself.
6. For the moment, money’s powerful, so enjoy doing good with it.
7. For the moment, money’s necessary, so give it to those who need
8. Make money! Just don’t keep it all.
9. Don’t obey it;
10. manage it—for the moment that it’s in your hands.

1. Great. That just leaves the six-thousand-pound elephant in the room:
1. Who are any of us to play the role of a child of light?

1. . . . including for us to play the role of children of light: Jesus
was about to enter Jerusalem, to die on the cross.
1. Let’s not lose the big picture.
1. Where was Jesus on his journey when he told this parable?
2. He was about to enter Jerusalem, to die on the cross like a
derelict in the dark in order to make you a child of light!
3. That’s what makes you a different steward, that you should be
rescuing people on God’s behalf with his goods!
4. Baptized into his name most holy!

1. But it’s way bigger and better than being made stewards of the stuff
he owns.
1. He owns you.
2. He owns me.
3. Paul says:
1. “You are not your own; for you were bought with a price” (1
Corinthians 6:19b–20a).
4. Jesus is the owner now.
1. He redeemed us, purchased and won us.
5. You are a steward of . . . you!
6. We’ve been entrusted with real wealth!
1. Forgiveness, life, and salvation! So…


1. Be Shrewd like That Sleaze in the Parable.

1. What about those of us who agree that we should live as children of
light, but our performance even since we were supposed to be children of
light has been more like children of this world?
2. What about the books we’ve already cooked?
3. Be shrewd about believing him when he says,
1. “though your sins are like scarlet,” write down “white as snow”
(Isaiah 1:18).
4. It’s still dark out there!
5. What if I mess up again?
6. I have no faith in me.
7. Good! Be shrewd about trusting Jesus to get you home!
8. Even now, O child of light, Jesus is savvy enough to notice when
we pull stunts on ourselves.
9. You know, the psalm says darkness and light are all the same to
him (Psalm 139:12).
10. It means he can see in the dark just as well as He can see in the
11. I can’t see in the dark doesn’t mean he doesn’t see all the games
I play.
12. That’s why he says,
1. “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the
Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).
13. So the stewards now are shrewd to realize the Owner can see in
the dark, and they come out into the light.
14. “You know all things, Lord. You know I’ve sinned.”
15. The Owner says, “What have you wasted or squandered on yourself?
Quick, write down ‘Nothing.’ ”
16. He says, “How have you sinned with my property, that body I
redeemed? Quick, write down ‘Not at all.’ ”
17. And all of this must be okay, because he’s the Owner.
18. Jesus’ sacrifice settles all accounts; his death balances all
19. The blood of the Owner cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
20. His love writes “Well Done” on everyone who believes him.
21. It puts everlasting life into our hands, for us to take hold of.
22. Even pastors are stewards of these mysteries.
23. The “one God, . . . one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5) was crucified like a scandalized
steward, and, as if it were his life that was at stake, asked,
“How much do
you owe?” We said, “All of it, Lord.”
24. And Jesus said, “Take your bill, and make it zero, child of
25. Be shrewd. Do it. Amen.
26. Let us pray:
27. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your
hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
28. In the Name of the Father…Amen.