And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Do not draw from these verses lessons which they were never meant to teach.
The steward, whom our Lord describes, is not set before us as a pattern of morality. He is distinctly called the ‘unjust steward’. The Lord Jesus never meant to sanction dishonesty, and unfair dealing between man and man. This steward cheated his master, and broke the eighth commandment: his master was struck with his cunning and forethought, when he heard of it, and ‘commended’ him, as a shrewd and far-seeing man; but there is no proof that his master was pleased with his conduct. Above all, there is not a word to show that the man was praised by Christ. In short, in his treatment of his master the steward is a beacon to be avoided and not a pattern to be followed.
The caution now laid down is very necessary. Commercial dishonesty is unhappily very common in these latter days: fair dealing between man and man is increasingly rare: men do things in the way of business which will not stand the test of the Bible. In ‘making haste to be rich,’ thousands are continually committing actions which are not strictly innocent (Prov. 28:20).
Sharpness and smartness in bargaining, and buying and selling, and pushing trade, are often covering over things that ought not to be. The generation of ‘the unjust steward’ is still a very large one. Let us not forget this. Whenever we do to others what we would not like others to do to us, we may be sure, whatever the world may say, that we are wrong in the sight of Christ.
*Excerpted from Day By Day With J.C. Ryle: A New Daily Devotional of Ryle’s Writings by J.C. Ryle (Christian Heritage, 2011).
About J.C. Ryle:
J. C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) was the first Bishop of Liverpool. He was one of the most authoritative churchmen of his time and his writings have been in constant demand throughout the last hundred years. His popularity was due to his clear and simple style, his longevity due to his being a profound thinker and compassionate pastor.
Where to Buy:
Day By Day With J.C. Ryle: A New Daily Devotional of Ryle’s Writings by J.C. Ryle is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below: