Eight Sunday after Pentecost – The Unjust Steward

 ‘And the Lord commended the unjust steward, for as much as he had done wisely.’ — ST. LUKE xvi. 8

I. WISDOM is so great a good, that we should be glad to learn it, from the lips of even our enemies. Hence, Our Lord does not hesitate to put before us, in the parable of the unjust steward, the criminal action of a dishonest man, that from it we may learn a lesson. He had enough fore sight and skill to secure for himself a home and a source of maintenance for his declining years. From his conduct God would have us learn to be farseeing and careful about our eternal welfare. This steward, like many in his position at the present day, had probably lived far beyond his means, and in order to supply the deficiency of his income, had no doubt made free with his master’s property. His delinquencies soon became known to his employer, who one day summoned him into his presence, charged him- with his dishonesty, and called for his accounts, as it was impossible for him any longer to retain his office.

Hereupon, the critical nature of his position flashed upon him in all its horrible reality. Disgrace and beggary stared him in the face. But, if heretofore he had shown himself to be a fool, his worldly wisdom now did him good service. He bethought him of a plan which would free him from the necessity for labour, and from the disgrace of begging. Going to each of his master’s debtors, he told one, who owed a hundred barrels of oil, to pay back only fifty. Another, who owed a hundred quarters of wheat, he bade restore only eighty ; and so on through the whole list. When thrust out of his office, he knew that these men whom he had treated so generously would receive and maintain him in their houses. The master heard of his steward’s sharp practice, admired it, and praised him for it ; much in the same way as we should admire and praise the dexterity of a thief who had cleverly purloined our watch or our purse ; and Christ, turning to each of us, says : ‘ From this learn a lesson. Be ashamed to have less wisdom in securing your eternal salvation, than this wicked steward had in providing for his daily bread.’

II. A little reflection will point out to you what a startling similarity there is between the position of this unjust man and your own. Like him, you are simply the administrator, and not the proprietor of the various goods which you possess. Your memory, your understanding, your will, — your body, with all its powers, are not so entirely your own as that you can do with them what you please. They are given to you in trust, by God your Master, to be employed in His service, and for His advantage. But, though this is an admitted truth, yet there is a notion in the heads of many boys, that the time for thus serving God with all their strength is not the period of youth. They look upon its bright and hopeful days as the proper season for having what they call their fill of the world’s pleasures. There are, consequently, not a few who give themselves up to a life of sin, indulging their corrupt nature in all its desires ; refusing not to eye, or to ear, or to heart the gratification for which it craves, and thus waste and destroy the excellent good things which belong not to them, but to the great Master and Lord of all. They hope that the riper years of early manhood will bring with them greater facilities for employing God’s gifts in God’s service. But this is a delusion ! Youth is the spring-time of life, when good seed may be sown in the heart. But if, instead of planting good seed, what the world calls ‘ wild oats ‘ are sown in its place, what can be expected but a crop of sinful thorns and thistles, fit only to be burnt with unquenchable fire ? For, as the Lord of the unjust steward came suddenly upon him, and caught him in the midst of his dishonest practices, so will the Master and Lord of the wicked boy, now grown into the still more wicked man, come at the time when He is least expected ; He will touch him with the cold hand of death, whose summons no man can refuse to obey, and will call for an account of his stewardship, and then he will be steward no longer.

III. If you wish to escape a fate so terrible, learn wisdom from the conduct of that unjust steward. He showed him self to be keenly alive to his own interest, by making pro vision against the evil day. Do you act in like manner, by not neglecting your eternal interests, for the sake of a few moments of mad, delirious pleasure. You have in your hands all God’s glorious gifts, which, if wisely put out to interest, will bring you in a hundredfold. Therefore, keep well before your mind the position which; you hold, and the purpose for which your various faculties have been given to you. You are simply God’s steward. That which you have is His property, and not your own. You are in the world, to prepare yourself for the company of God and of His Angels in heaven; and you do this by gaining a complete mastery over yourself, and ruling your whole being as a sovereign prince. Your passions must be made to submit unconditionally, and for ever. There will then be peace in your heart, and where there is peace, a rich harvest of virtues will spring up. You will be pure, truthful, unselfish, generous, and charitable. You will enjoy the liberty of the sons of God, for you will be free from the slavery of sin. You will be crowned with glory and with honour, and you will have a never-ending source of joy in your heart, in being able to look back upon a well-spent youth, and forward to an eternity of bliss. Gird up your loins, therefore, and accomplish the task imposed upon you by God. Serve Him now in the days of your youth, for He is worthy to be loved and obeyed at all times. Carry out, in act, this excellent principle, by never straying from the path of duty. Then, the peace and the joy which will fill your soul in consequence of the thought of a faithfully discharged stewardship, will repay you, even in this world, for the little struggle which a life of virtue necessarily entails.

 

Taken from – Lectures for Boys

 by Rev. Francis Cuthbert Doyle, 1879

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