THE Lord spoke a parable about a steward, a man who had care of a rich man’s property, perhaps renting his farms and selling his crops. The steward would have in his keeping the statements signed by the different people who owed the rich man, showing how much they owed him. The writing was often done on a waxed surface with a pointed style, and words could be erased by smoothing out the wax with the other end of the style. One owed a hundred measures of oil; the steward told him to write fifty: another owed a hundred measures of wheat; he should write eighty. Both debts were for large amounts. It seems that the steward acted dishonestly so that the debtors would be his friends; and the master commended him for his shrewdness. The Lord does not say that he did right. If he acted dishonestly he did very wrong. But the lesson is that if this worldly man with such wisdom as he had, used the property in his hands so that he would have friends, ought we not honestly and with real wisdom, to use the good things trusted to us in this world, so that they will do our souls good, and so that angels will be our friends and receive us to homes in heaven?
And he said also 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. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 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. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. 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. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? 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. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.—Luke XVI. 1-13.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
Parable of the unjust steward >> Using present opportunities so that they will result in future good
Debts of oil and wheat >> What we owe the Lord for His goodness and His truth
Writing a smaller number in both places >> We cannot fully confess how large the debt is, but we must confess it as fully as we can
Fifty measures of oil >> As much gratitude for the Lord’s goodness as we can give
Eighty measures of wheat >> Such gratitude as we can give for the Lord’s truth, with the resolution to be faithful to what we know, through whatever trial or temptation (80)
“I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.” >> The impossibility of receiving heavenly life hereafter if we do not prepare for it now
“Cannot dig” >> The impossibility of thinking truly
“ashamed to beg” >> The impossibility of desiring what is good
“Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when it shall fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” >> Use natural good things in such a way as we can be trusted with heavenly good things
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum