The unjust steward was a wicked, dishonest man. He was too lazy to work and too proud to beg (v. 3). Yet, when he found out that he was to be put out of his stewardship by his master he determined that he would make friends of his lord' s debtors, so that when he was turned out of his master' s house he might be received into theirs (vv. 4-7). Treacherous as he was, he was brilliant in this one thing - He used the opportunity he had to prepare for his future, when all opportunity would be gone. For this his lord commended him and the Lord Jesus holds him up as an example of wisdom (v. 8).
The unjust steward was not commended for doing the things he had done, but because he had wisely provided for himself. Dishonest as he was, by lessening the bills of his master' s debtors he made friends for himself. Wicked as he was in his deeds, he had an eye to the future. Disgraceful as his actions were, he provided well for himself. He did not sit still in idleness and wait to be reduced to poverty. He schemed, planned, contrived and found a way to secure a future home for himself. Therefore the Lord Jesus said, "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. "
This man, with regard to earthly things, was very diligent. He wisely looked to and provided for the future. This is commendable even in ants (Prov. 6:6-9). It is the nature of man, by base, animal instinct, with regard to earthly, carnal, material things, to look to the future. In fact, we most naturally look to the future with regard to everything temporal. Are we not then fools if we neglect our souls? This unjust steward is a man whose example in earthly things we would be wise to follow in spiritual things. Like him, we should look to the future. Be wise, my friend, make provision for your soul against that day when you shall have to leave your present habitation. Secure to yourself "an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" by faith in Christ. Use every means at your disposal to secure the everlasting welfare of your immortal soul (Mk. 8:34-38). Pray, while you have opportunity to pray. Read God' s Word, while you are able to read. Hear the gospel, while you can hear the gospel. "Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found. " The time will come when you cannot seek him!
"The love of money is the root of all evil" (I Tim. 6:10). Yet, the Lord Jesus says to his disciples, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. " Make to yourself friends of your money and earthly goods, so that when you die you may enter into heaven. Use your earthly goods as a steward under God, with an eye to the future. Use your riches in this world in such a way that they shall be friends to you and not witnesses against you in the day of judgment.
Do not mistake my meaning, or the teaching of our Lord. You cannot purchase an eternal inheritance in heaven with money anymore than you can earn it by your works! The only grounds for any sinner' s acceptance with God is the blood of Christ (I Pet. 1:18-21). Your earthly riches cannot get you into heaven, no matter what you do with them. But they can keep you out of heaven! It was his riches that kept the rich young ruler out of the kingdom of God (Lk. 18:22-24).
It is our responsibility not to serve our earthly possessions, but rather to use our earthly possessions to serve our God, his people and his gospel. All that we have belongs to God and is to be used for God. We are nothing but stewards. A steward owns nothing. But he is responsible for everything. He takes in with one hand and distributes with the other, according to his master' s will (Matt. 6:19-21, 33). God did not put us here to amass wealth, but to use what he is pleased to put in our hands for the glory of Christ and the good of his people.
This is what the Lord Jesus teaches us in this verse : The proper use of our earthly goods, from proper motives, will be for our eternal benefit. It is an evidence of God' s grace in us, which shall befriend our souls forever. Read Ecclesiastes ll: 1, Galatians 6:7-10 and I Timothy 6:17-19. These three passages are inspired commentaries on Luke 16:9.
What has God put in your hands? Will you waste your Master' s goods upon the lusts of your flesh; or will you use them for the service of his kingdom? Of this you may be certain: If you sow to the flesh, you shall of the flesh reap corruption. If you sow to the Spirit, you shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
If we do not make good use of God' s temporal gifts of providence, we need not expect him to bestow upon us the true riches of spiritual things in everlasting grace and glory. The riches of this world are called "that which is least. " Men think riches are great, significant, all important. Man' s philosophy is, "Money answereth all things. " We measure society in terms of wealth. But our Lord calls riches "that which is least, " the very least, the most insignificant of God' s gifts to men. Spiritual riches, the riches of grace and glory, he calls "that which is much, " infinitely, immeasurably much. These are "the unsearchable riches of Christ, " God' s riches in glory by Christ Jesus. " Matthew Henry said, "God withholds his grace from covetous, worldly people more than we are aware of. " And our Lord said virtually the same things (Lk. 18:25). The riches you think are a blessing may be a curse. The poverty you think is a curse may be a blessing.
The riches of this world are deceitful and uncertain, "unrighteous mammon. " Spiritual riches are true riches. I wonder if we really believe that. Those who are rich in faith are truly rich. Those who are rich in grace are infinitely, permanently, perfectly rich, rich in all things (I Cor. 3:21). In Christ all things are ours, all providential things, all temporal things, all gracious things, all spiritual things, all eternal things.
The riches of this world are "another man' s. " They all belong to God. We are only stewards of them, who use them by God' s permission for a very little while. Then we must leave them to another steward. Spiritual, eternal riches are "your own. " They are that good part which shall not be taken from us, neither in this world nor in the world to come. That which God imparts to the soul can never be separated from it. It is our very own forever. Christ' s righteousness, reward, inheritance, and glory are all ours!
It is our Lord' s purpose in these verses to show us the importance of faithfulness in little things. He is telling us that little things test and prove a person' s character. He who is not faithful in little things is probably unfaithful in all things. And he who is not faithful in the little things of earth shall not inherit the great things of heaven.
Hell is full of men and women who tried to prove Christ wrong, who tried to serve both God and mammon. And our churches are filled with men and women, in the pulpit as well as in the pew, who are trying to prove Christ wrong, who are trying to serve both God and mammon. But it cannot be done. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon. " This is a lesson we must learn. "We have no other way to prove ourselves the servants of God than by giving up ourselves so entirely to his service as to make mammon, that is, all our worldly gain, serviceable to us in his service. " - (Matthew Henry).
If you love the world and seek to hold on to the things of the world, you will hate God and despise his grace. Your worship of, service to and faith in God will be made subservient to your worldly interests. You will use the things of God to serve your worldly interests. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
If you love God and seek to hold on to him, serving his kingdom and his glory, his Son and his gospel, then you will hate the world and despise all that it offers. That simply means, when the world comes into competition with God, you throw the world away and hold on to God. You make your business and worldly interests subservient to your worship of, obedience to, and service for your God. You make the things of the world to be neither more nor less than instruments with which you serve the Lord your God. The religious worldling fits the worship of God into his life. But the worship of God is the believer' s life. He arranges the affairs of his life around the worship of God.
"Ye cannot serve God and mammon! " You must let go of one and hold to the other. So I say to you what Joshua said to Israel of old, "How long halt ye between two opinions? . . . Chose you this day whom ye will serve. " Will you serve mammon; or will you serve God? "As for me and my house, " I have made up my mind, "We will serve the Lord. " Will you save your life for yourself, and lose it; or will you lose your life in Christ, and save it?