A perspective from the pew
Many people have a problem understanding Luke 16:1-15, because Jesus appears to praise bad behavior. This parable, like many, deals with the subject of money. A rich man and the rich man’s manager are the primary characters. The dishonest manager or steward is accused of misusing his boss’s possessions. He hatches a scheme to forgive a great portion of his client’s debt that’s owed to his boss. He does this out of pure self-interest, hoping to establish friendships with his debtors. This way, when things go bad, he will have relationships to help cover him. When his boss discovers the scheme, he praises him for his shrewdness.
Jesus doesn’t fully explain the meaning of the parable, so we are left feeling confused like his disciples, who often came to him afterwards wanting an explanation. Fortunately, most commentators agree that the key to understanding this parable is in verses 8 and 9.