By Sharon K. Perkins
“Give me an accounting of your management.” ~Luke 16:2
Our Resident Bean Counter
When our oldest daughter was still in her pre-teens, she declared that she wanted to be an actuary when she grew up. Once I figured out what it was that an actuary did, I was not surprised by her admission. She had been a “bean counter” from an early age, even improvising a ledger in a small spiral notebook for tracking credit entries (her weekly allowance) as well as the occasional debit (when her father and I had to borrow a little cash!). Her aptitude for accounting has since guided her career path as a corporate auditor and investment consultant—but her professional acumen is matched only by her bargain-hunting skills. Her shrewdness in financial matters surpasses even my penny-pinching abilities, helping her (and others!) to survive and even prosper in challenging economic times.
The Crafty Steward
Today’s gospel about the “crafty steward” has always intrigued me. Why would Jesus hold up as a model, a servant who engaged in probable embezzlement of his master’s property and some somewhat shady manipulation of his accounts? From Jesus’ perspective, the point here is not the steward’s immorality but his astuteness. The dishonest accountant, realizing that he’s about to become unemployed, takes quick and prudent action. By rewriting the debtors’ invoices, he enhances his master’s reputation for generosity. And he uses material goods to build relationships that will benefit him in the long run.
Stewardship from a Grateful Heart
With the benefit of many years of hindsight, I can honestly say that God has not only provided for my family’s needs but has blessed me with all sorts of resources, tangible and intangible. Thus, the older I get, the more I realize the importance of gratitude, proper perspective, and prudent action regarding God’s gifts. As Scripture asserts, I am called to be thankful, especially for the gifts that I don’t recognize as gifts at the time. The blessings God bestows aren’t simply provided for my benefit—they’re given to demonstrate God’s generosity to others. Lastly, my life’s goal isn’t about accumulating “stuff”—it’s about building relationships with the people God places in my life and taking wise but practical action on their behalf.
Ultimately, good stewardship isn’t about the state of the economy: it’s about the state of one’s heart.
Lord God, in your abundant love, you are all generous with your gifts to me. Please help me to be grateful, prudent, and generous in turn. Show me how to have a true steward’s heart and to act accordingly. Amen.
Call to Action
Reflect upon and thank God for the many blessings in your life, especially those you didn’t initially recognize as blessings. Then, ask yourself: in what way(s) have you been a good steward of those blessings and used them for God’s purposes?
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