Parable of the Unjust Steward
The late Lloyd John Ogilvie, a Presbyterian pastor and chaplain of the United States Senate, gives an account of a conversation he had on a cross-country flight with one of America’s most successful businessmen. He asked the man, ‘What was the secret of his success?’ The business man’s response was quite interesting.
‘Shrewdness!’ was his one-word reply.
To which Ogilvie was somewhat shocked by his frankness.
The man went on to say that he spent every waking hour thinking, scheming, planning, developing and putting deals together. In it all he had tried to be completely honest in all his affairs, he claimed.
Ogilvie couldn’t help but admire his single-mindedness. Ogilvie stated,
“He knew what he wanted and left nothing to chance. He worked hard to achieve goals. All the power of his intellect, the strength of his seemingly limitless energies, the determination of his iron will and the resources of his calculated discernment of people were employed to accomplish his goals.”
As Ogilvie engaged the man in conversation, he eventually shifted it into what the man believed about God. To which there was a long silence. The man admitted that he had not taken any time to think about that. Ogilvie’s response astonished him. Ogilvie said to this gentleman, “If you ever put the same time, energy and will into being a disciple of Jesus Christ, you would be a contemporary Apostle Paul.”
Following a pause of silence, the man’s response was thoughtful and reflective: “Nobody has ever challenged me with that!”
The conversation with Ogilvie’s traveling companion made a deep impression on him. Ogilvie later wrote that this conversation forced him “to wonder if I could say that Jesus Christ meant as much to me as this man’s career does to him.” As he reflected on this conversation, it led him into a long analysis of people he knew in business, entertainment, government and sports who invest incalculable personal thought and resources to get ahead. No cost is too high; no sacrifice too demanding. Scheming, study, rehearsal, practice and determination are committed as a small price for perfection and success.
Ogilvie then wondered, ‘What would happen if Christians took following Jesus Christ as seriously as these people take getting ahead?’
In this account, we have grasped the jugular vein of the parable of the unrighteous steward. Jesus wanted to teach one central truth in this very startling account. There is no parable with as many enticing dead-end possibilities as this one. We can go astray down any one of them and miss the main point.
I hope you can join us this Lord’s Day as we look at what Jesus is teaching us through this story of an unrighteous steward. What is Jesus commending in this parable? What is he calling us to do? Are you a shrewd saint? What if you are not?
For His Glory,
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