As I look a things this time, I wonder if I have been missing something because of the way we read the word "unrighteous" (adikaios). The word is a big basket word that carries lots of stuff. It can mean wickedness and iniquity. But it also has an accounting sense that means something more like "unfair." Hosea 12:7 has "He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress." The "deceit" here in the LXX is our "not-right" word. Ezekiel 18:8 has the same mercantile use: "He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man." The "iniquity" in this verse is the not-right business practice of usury and gouging. Obviously the wicked can use not-right scales to cheat and oppress.
But here in our parable, the servant is commended for his not-right accounting as he reduces the obligations of his master's debtors. And we are told that not-right mammon should be used this way.
So how about this: We serve a master who has entrusted us with the management of his money. We come across people who are indebted to him. We are not to worry about strict accounts. Go ahead, be generous, take a loss. It's not our money, remember, and the master has a wealth of reserves. And if we're good enough to waste mere money with those who owe, then our master will commend us for our failure to keep full accounts of debt.
What I'm trying to get at here is the way this parable speaks to our practice of ministries of charity and mercy. These are exactly the kind of ministries that require poor book-keeping and bad business judgment. We're gonna lose on the deal every time. Anybody looking at our practice with an eye on the accounts will conclude that we're being foolish: this is not right.
But in the parable, it is the not-right steward who is commended by the master and whose practice gains him a reward. And without taking a breath, Jesus goes on to say, "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?" Which suggests that this not-right practice is actually the kind of faithfulness that God looks for as he prepares to give the true.
I think this is what I think about this.