The Parable of the Dishonest Steward, told in the first 13 verses of Luke’s 16th chapter, is the most confounding for study. Jesus speaks to his disciples about a steward, entrusted with the lands of an absentee landlord.

A rumor of mismanagement reaches the master — and the steward’s livelihood is threatened. He panics — for he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t collect.

So he turns to underhandedness. As each tenant comes to him, he slices the bill, attempting to secure his own future. In the best case, the master will be satisfied. Worst case? The tenants now owe the steward loyalty — at least enough to put a roof over his head if needed.

He’s making “friends” through generosity. Magnanimous — with somebody else’s stuff.

It makes me think of some cheap TVs, cellphones, jewelry, drugs — you name it — bargain mammon that “fell” off the back of a pick-up.

And then the confusion — for Jesus calls the steward “shrewd.” That sure doesn’t sound like the condemnation of sleaziness we’d expect. This story is just a mess. So much is wrong. And while there are possibilities, we can’t resolve the whole thing.

I find the truth of the story in its concluding verses: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”

The foundational element of community is trust. From the master to the steward to each of us — all the time — Is there trust? While we cannot take away the meaning of the whole story, we can take away a message of trustworthiness.

We are to be trusted never to use another for our own means. We are entrusted with all of life and all God gives us for the glory of God and to show God’s face — not to flounder trying to buy in our own security. Never worked. Never will.

The question is — with Jesus by my side, all the time — am I making decisions He would make?

We live in a broken world. We are not yet fully in the Kingdom of God. We live in a world where clearly there are shortages. Like the steward, some days give us hard choices. In our world, there are no easy answers.

So often questions present that have no apparent solution. No matter what, somebody’s going to hurt. Yet in hope, we live into the Kingdom of God that is abundance.

The field of ethics — character — studies choices, and how and why we make them. There are so many different ways.

Some choices are made strictly following the “rules.” Some are utilitarian — for the greatest good or the least harm.

In life as followers of Jesus, our choices ultimately are to be made toward a goal — that is the goal of living as Jesus. Faithful, loving, trusting and trustworthy. Making every each decision toward life in the Kingdom of God.

Remember this recent news story? A Boston homeless man found and returned a backpack with over $40,000 and a passport. The gentleman who found the money expected nothing. When interviewed, he indicated he’d never have kept a cent. In his experience, he had God looking after him.

The news accounts of this went viral. Why? I think the enormous interest and outpouring of support for this man indicates our hunger for people who do the right thing — no matter how much they need personally.

It tells us that in a world where communications lean heavily on the sensation that builds ratings, we are starving for glimpses of trustworthiness and hopefulness. It tells us that at our core, we yearn to live in a world that is good and fair and honest. We crave a world of integrity — not a world of me-first.

That begins with each one of us, living as stewards of God in all we do. That means deciding every word and deed and response through His eyes.

For God is faithful. God redeems. God sustains. And when all we are given here is gone, God alone remains — love alone remains. And isn’t that all we’d ever hoped for?

The Rev. JANICE JONES is rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Killeen.

(1) comment


My name is Jennifer Lynn McDonald. I agreed in a civil contract to allow my daughter Shannon Elizabeth Obrien to be held in temporary custody via her Paternal (not really paternal or any DNA to my daughter, just an agreement that James Joseph Obrien IV signed her birth certificate as we were in a relationship) Grandparents Jim and Linda Obrien III. I was moving back to Florida and signed an agreement for 6 months temporary custody. The intentions were that when I established stability, a home and place of employment, I would get my daughter Shannon and bring her to Florida where she was born. Since then, I did come back as agreed with Janet Pruitt hired as an attorney. I was told that I would bring my daughter back to Florida so I acquired a car seat and clothing and diapers as needed to transport Shannon back via rental vehicle to Florida. Linda and Jim O’Brien’s attorney prevented a hearing by stating that the Judge was a visiting Judge and Not a regular Coryell County Judge. I was not permitted to even have a hearing. First, Linda and Jim Obrien told the visiting Judge I did not communicate with them and then I proved that to be a lie by bringing in copies of email conversations between myself and the O’Brien’s email address. Since then I have felt powerless. For a year and a half Linda and Jim did not allow me to visit or talk to Shannon, due to the visit we encountered at the courthouse where I was bullied to not have a hearing. I have been trying to appease Jim and Linda Obrien, feeling I have no choice but to do whatever they want me to, in order to see my daughter and in hopes they would just give her back to me. Linda led me to believe if I accomplished certain tasks in my life agenda, she would bring Shannon to visit me, then she said Shannon could stay for a summer, and then come live with me. Linda told me that I must acquire my Registered Nurse Degree and get a Job as an RN in order to get Shannon back. Well I have been working full time and raising my other two children, I married and he has 3 children. I have been going to State College of Florida School part time for four years. Now Shannon is 8 years old. After completion of this semester I have one more Gordon Rule Math course Liberal Arts Math, to complete and I will graduate with my AA Degree. I am then to transfer to a private college Galen University in Saint Petersburg to obtain my Registered Nurse Training and acquire my Associate in Science Degree. Once I complete the State Board Exam, I will be able to obtain employment as a Registered Nurse. Here is the problem. I am doing what I agreed upon verbally and contractually. Linda and Jim Obrien are not . Neither their contractual agreements are honored, nor their verbal promises, and continual excuses of why I cannot have my daughter back. Finally, I am coming for a visit scheduled for November 15-17. Linda Obrien told me that she did not ever want to give Shannon back to me because their life is revolved around Shannon. I told her that she genetically is not Shannon’s Grandmother, but she still insists I never get custody of my daughter. I feel helpless. My rights are gone. I feel like my daughter was stolen and I will never get her back. The intentions of the 6 month temporary custody was just to be temporary. I feel like I was tricked and my daughter has been taken. I feel like it doesn’t matter if I become a doctor, the law should uphold the contract agreement and a social contract, according to Thomas Hobbs, morally should be withheld and protected by the state(court). The truth should be honored in a moral society and I should be given my daughter back. Will you please tell me why I am not protected by my intentions to be Shannon’s mother. Since this, James Joseph Obrien, who signed the birth certificate died in Jim and Linda Obrien’s home. He died of Pneumonia at the age of 42 years of age. I think it was from overdose from the pain medications he received from a physician and combination of alcohol. That is why I was relocating away from Texas to Florida, because of the drugs and alcohol with their son James. I wanted to make a better life for Shannon. I don’t deserve to lose her forever for improving my bad situation. If you look in your court documents for their son James J Obrien IV you will see that after I left in 2007, James got in a lot of violent legal troubles. Please answer my plea and tell me what I can do to have my daughter.

Sincerely, Jennifer (Holder) McDonald
1001 30th st west
Bradenton, Florida 34205

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