Instruct us, Lord Jesus, for You are heavenly Wisdom. Amen.
Text: Luke 16:1-9
And He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have 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 master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”
This unjust steward by his unrighteousness is an example to warn us, but even more by his cleverness and resolve he is an example to instruct and humble us.
On the first point the parable says: Remember that you will give an account. You are set as a free lord over all that you have, both your spiritual and your physical things. Yet nothing is yours, but everything is the Lord’s, and you should use it according to His will, to His glory, to benefit yourself and your neighbor. Remember that the time is short and the responsibility great. Let the result of this unjust steward’s wicked conduct alert you in time, so that in the end these words will not “sound like impending doom” to your ears: “Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.”
But on the second point the parable says: Be wise, and be quick to use your time and your goods for your eternal benefit. And this is the main thought of our parable. See how wise and resourceful the children of the world are in their generation. See how they understand how to use deadlines and how they sacrifice both reputation and honor, yes, justice and conscience to secure for themselves earthly portions. Shouldn’t you, the children of light, be even more zealous to win eternal treasure? But the people of the world put you to shame! The unjust steward had only a little time left to dispose of what was entrusted to him; but he understood how to use this deadline for what he needed. He dealt with his lord’s debtors in such a way that he would not be forsaken when he had to leave his service.
It is especially the proper use of earthly things that Jesus here wanted to teach His disciples. “Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” Use temporal things, which always are associated with unrighteousness, and by which so many are robbed of real happiness, use them for true and rich generosity toward those Jesus has dearly purchased, in simple confidence that they are or will become children of God. For what you do to them then, you do to Jesus Himself, and these corruptible things will become eternal treasures of love and heavenly joy.
Jesus’ wise teaching is beyond compare. He teaches us to transform unrighteous mammon into eternal, heavenly treasures. Unrighteous mammon, the name says it all! – But Jesus teaches us to use it so that it is changed into genuine, noble, blessed wealth, and so He uses the unjust steward to teach us by his example! What foolishness to the world!
Lord Jesus, give us the wondrous power and wisdom of love, and let our whole life and all we have be devoted to the service of love. O grant us poor miserable sinners this wealth; grant us poor fools this wisdom. Amen.
O Lord, our God, You give to us
Your gifts and favor brightly;
Your Holy Ghost enlighten us
That we may use them rightly;
As stewards true may we be known
With truth’s sweet friendship as our own,
And never in corruption.
Arouse in us true diligence,
Refresh our zeal so that we
May use our time with faithfulness
Whate’er our calling may be;
O make us worthy to be known
Children of light and heaven’s own,
And to Your heart embrace us.
Landstad: Hvor ilde dog af Synds Begjær L 499:5-6 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Ach Gott vom Himmel; alternate hymn: What is the world to me ELH 446:4.8