One of the strengths of my Anabaptist tradition is that it takes the Bible and biblical authority seriously but also expects believers, particularly younger people, to argue and raise questions about the text. The parable of the shifty steward in Luke 16 was a delight to my friends and me in our coming-of-age years. Any adult defending a “one right answer” approach to biblical interpretation had to be prepared to take on a barrage of questions about this parable from avid teenagers.
The setting of the parable is a wealthy estate. The rich owner, or master, receives a report that the steward has not been doing his job adequately and calls him to immediate account. This demand throws the steward into a tizzy. He does not fall apart, however, but faces up to his limitations honestly. He knows himself pretty well—he’s too out of shape to do manual labor and too proud to beg.