Read­ing Time: 11 minutes

(Ref. Texts: Amos 8:4–7; Ps 112113; 1Tim 2:1–8; Luke 16:1–13)

The man or woman who enjoys the spir­it of our reli­gion has no tri­als; but the man or woman who tries to live accord­ing to the gos­pel of the Son of God, and at the same times clings to the spir­it of the world, has tri­als and sor­rows acute and keen, and that too, con­tinu­ally. This is the decid­ing point, the divid­ing line. They who love and serve God with all their hearts rejoice ever­more, pray without ceas­ing, and in everything give thanks; but they who try to serve God and still cling to the spir­it of the world have got on two yokes– the yoke of Jesus and the yoke of the dev­il, and they will have plenty to do. They will have a war­fare inside and out­side, and the labour will be very galling, for they are dir­ectly in oppos­i­tion one to the oth­er” (Brigham Young, Journ­al of Dis­courses, vol. XVI). 


After address­ing and remind­ing the Phar­isees and the Scribes that people should not be judged based on the fact that they are dif­fer­ent, and espe­cially after the power­ful les­son on the neces­sity of repent­ance (cf. Luke 15:1–32), Jesus con­tin­ues his prac­tic­al teach­ings spe­cific­ally to the dis­ciples and to all believ­ers (cf. “And he also said to the dis­ciples” in Luke 16:1). There is a close link between the par­able of the waste­ful admin­is­trat­or and the chief act­or (the young­er son) of the par­able in Luke 15:11–32. Both had a con­sid­er­able share of worldly wealth entrus­ted unto them. Unfor­tu­nately, these goods were mis­used, squandered and wasted. In fact, the same Greek term (dia­skorp­izō) is used to indic­ate the waste­ful­ness (cf. Luke 15:13; 16:1). The world has developed a cul­ture of waste that so many things are con­tinu­ously wasted with impun­ity. For instance, how many lives and prop­erty are wasted here in Niger­ia? What about the uni­ver­sal scene? It is the same music – waste and con­tinu­ous waste of lives, prop­er­ties, val­ues and mor­als. The “and he also said to his dis­ciples” in Luke 16:1 indic­ates Jesus wants his dis­ciples and Chris­ti­ans to avoid waste. In fact, the par­able is about a rich man who received a report that his stew­ard was squan­der­ing his prop­erty. The idea of waste implies injustice and reck­less­ness. Who­ever is involved in this needs repent­ance. Each per­son should reflect and find out what he or she is squan­der­ing and have a change of heart. Account­ab­il­ity and sal­va­tion means we can­not do as we like and hope to be saved. Account­ab­il­ity and sal­va­tion are inseparable.

The wasteful steward

Then Jesus1 said to the dis­ciples, there was a rich man who had a man­ager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squan­der­ing his prop­erty. So he summoned him and said to him, what is this that I hear about you? Give me an account­ing of your man­age­ment, because you can­not be my man­ager any longer” (Luke 16:1–2). When the man­ager was accused of squan­der­ing his master’s possession/property (Greek: uparch­onta), the rich man summoned him, and asked him to sub­mit the account of his stew­ard­ship (Greek: oiko­nomia) because he will no longer admin­is­ter (Greek: oikonomeō) his resources/company. This inform­a­tion con­cern­ing his dis­missal led the admin­is­trat­or to plan for his sur­viv­al. By order­ing the debt­ors of the mas­ter to falsi­fy their account (cf. vv.1–2), the man­ager of the household/administrator/steward (Greek: oikonomos) con­firms the accus­a­tion against him (cf. v.3–7). Observe these terms: oikonomos, oiko­nomia and oikonomeō. That is, min­is­ter, ministering/stewardship and the act of administering/serving. Both terms refer to uparch­onta. That is, the wealth of the rich man. An oikonomos is a per­son respons­ible for the house­hold. In this sense, he or she is a stew­ard, a ser­vant or a man­ager (cf. Luke 12:42). In some sense, each per­son is an oikonomos. How do you man­age what is entrus­ted to you?

Note that the term eco­nomy derives from oikonomos. In fact, the term eco­nomy means man­aging or man­age­ment of resources (money, goods, people, etc.). The prot­ag­on­ist of this par­able was actu­ally the min­is­ter of eco­nomy of the rich man. That is, he had the charge of man­aging his master’s prop­erty. Cer­tainly, the rich man trus­ted him and entrus­ted him with such respons­ib­il­ity. A trust he betrayed. Instead of tak­ing care of the man’s resources, he wasted them, prob­ably, enrich­ing him­self, his fam­ily and friends to the det­ri­ment of his mas­ter. He left his mas­ter with no option than to dis­miss him else, his waste­ful­ness and selfish­ness, could reduce the man to poverty and cause unem­ploy­ment to oth­ers. This was the only way to safe­guard the com­pany and save oth­ers from the danger of unemployment.

Just think of how the vari­ous min­is­ters of eco­nomy in vari­ous nations and insti­tu­tions, espe­cially in Niger­ia squander the resources of their coun­tries, caus­ing poverty and unem­ploy­ment. Yet, they are not fired. Incred­ible! Nigeri­an politi­cians and the vari­ous min­is­ters are worse than the man­ager of our par­able, yet, they retain their seats. Nat­ur­ally, they can­not be dis­missed because even those who are sup­posed to send them park­ing are also guilty of the same crime. As the Nigeri­an slo­gan has it, they are shar­ing the nation­al cake. Yes, they are par­ti­tion­ing the nation’s cake among them­selves, their fam­il­ies, friends and polit­ic­al god­fath­ers and moth­ers while the masses suf­fer and die. It is a fact that the level of poverty in the coun­try is respons­ible for the reli­gious pros­ti­tu­tion of the popu­lace. Nigeri­an masses erro­neously sub­mit to reli­gion as the solu­tion to their pre­dic­a­ment. In fact, things are not even dif­fer­ent. Things are not dif­fer­ent because reli­gion as solu­tion has giv­en rise to unima­gin­able rise of false proph­ets and min­is­ters of self-enrich­ment. Unfor­tu­nately, many Chris­ti­an lead­ers are not bet­ter man­agers. Well, some might con­clude it is a mat­ter of con­science. Yes, it might be a mat­ter of con­science yet, we can­not pre­tend not to know that many are god­less and selfish oikonomoi. Many waste (steal) pub­lic money and prop­erty, yet they remain in their pos­i­tions. Why? Why are the dis­hon­est and unright­eous lead­ers not dis­missed? Why are they allowed to keep squan­der­ing the resources they are sup­posed to administer?

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