I. Scripture: Luke 16:1-13

The Parable of the Unjust Steward

"Jesus said unto his disciples, ‘There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. {2} And he called him, and said unto him, ‘How is it that I hear this of you? Give an account of your stewardship; for you will no longer be steward.’ {3} Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? for my lord is taking away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. {4} I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ {5} So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, ‘How much do you owe to my lord?’ {6} And he said, ‘An hundred measures of oil.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ {7} Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, An hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ {8} And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. {9} And I say unto you, ‘Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. {10} He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. {11} If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? {12} And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? {13} No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.’"

II. How This Verse Is Misused By Some. Some misread verse 9 to say that we in the Church should use our money to make friends among the people of this world (i.e., to make friends of the world through unrighteous mammon).

III. True Explanation

Verses 1-8, In Palestine, there were many absentee landlords. Jesus’ disciples may have drawn this analogy of the rich man or master in this parable who may well have been one of these absentee landlords and his business may well have been entrusted into the steward’s hands. The steward had followed a career of embezzlement. No doubt what was owed was rent, which was often paid to the landlord, not in money, but in produce or commodities. It was often an agreed proportion of the produce of the part of the estate, which had been rented. The brilliant steward falsified the entries in the books so that the debtors were debited with far less than what they actually owed. This would have two effects. 1. the debtors would be grateful to him. 2. He involved them in his own misdemeanors of which he was now in a strong position to exercise a little judicious blackmail.

The master, instead of being shocked, was amazed at the steward’s shrewd business dealings and praised him.

Verse 8, the difficulty of the parable is clearly seen from the fact that Luke attaches different lessons to it. The lesson is that the sons of this world are wiser in their generation than the sons of light. If a Christian was as eager and ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as a man of the world is in his attempt to attain money and comfort, he would be a much better man and a better Christian.

Verse 9, Let’s look at this verse from the NIV translation: "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

The lesson is that material possessions should be used to cement friendships wherein the real and permanent value of life lies. A man can use his wealth, selfishly, which is what the steward did, or he can use it to make life easier, not only for himself but for his friends and his fellow man. One idea of this would be to set up a scholarship to help students to continue their education.

Verse 10, the lesson is that a man's way of fulfilling a small task is the best proof of his fitness or unfitness to be entrusted with a bigger task. This will show how honest he is and what his true character is like. We can apply this to our life in paying our tithes, our work ethics and how we treat other people.

Verse 13 lays down a rule that no slave can serve two masters. The slave master possess the slave exclusively. A slave had no spare time, all of his energy belongs to the master. Serving God cannot be a part-time job. We must serve God with all of our energy, heart, mind and soul..

In summary: In verse 9, Jesus shows us how to correct our lack of wisdom by making to ourselves friends with or by means of (proper translation from the Greek) the mammon of unrighteousness. That, "when you fail" (or, correctly in the Greek, "when you die") those (friends) who have been converted through the aid of your tithes and offerings may receive you into God's Kingdom at the resurrection.

Christ was not telling His disciples to make friends of the world through unrighteous mammon, but to help convert some in the world through the proper use of mammon, your tithes and offerings, etc. Notice verses 10 and 11 which carry on the context and show we should be faithful in using our money wisely -- by investing it in God’s Work.

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