The dishonest manager


“And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.  And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes” (NRSV, Luke 16: 8-9).

This parable of the Dishonest Manager (or Unjust Steward) at first sight appears to present some difficulty because it holds up a dishonest man as an example to be imitated.

Here we have the manager of a rich man’s estate who has been given notice for culpable negligence.  Before he leaves, therefore, he sends for all those who have bought produce from the estate but have not yet paid for it.  He then hands them their IOUs, which he has been holding against the settlement of their debts, and tells them to make out fresh IOUs for much smaller amounts.  By putting them under an obligation to him in that way, the manager could look to them to help him when he was out of a job.

After the manager had left, the news of what he had been up to leaked out; and his master on hearing it, could not help admiring his foresight in using his employer’s money to secure his own future.  The “master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly…” (NRSV, Luke 16: 8).

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