THE UNJUST STEWARD.
ROBERT GOVETT, M. A.
Luke, 16: 1-13.
Jesus gives His disciples directions concerning the use of money in the parable which is to engage our attention.
1. "He said moreover also to His disciples:- There was a certain rich man, who had a steward; and he was accused to him as wasting his goods.
2. And having called him, he said unto him, 'Why do I hear this of thee? 'Render in the account of thy stewardship; for thou shalt not be able any more to be steward.'
3. But the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do? For my lord is taking away the stewardship from me; to dig I have not strength; to beg I am ashamed.
4. ‘I know [am resolved] what I will do: that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’
5. And having called to him each one of the debtors of his own lord, he said to the first, ‘How much owest thou to my lord?’ But he said, 'A hundred baths of oil.' And he said to him, ‘Receive thy writing, and having sat down, write quickly fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘But how much owest thou?’ But he said, ‘A hundred cors of wheat.’ And he saith to him, ‘Receive thy writing, and write eighty.’
6. And the master praised the steward of injustice, because he acted prudently: for the children of this age are, for their own generation, more prudent than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends out of the mammon of injustice, that when ye fail, they may receive you into the everlasting tents.
7. He that is faithful in the least, is faithful also in much: and he who is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the false mammon, who will trust you with the true? And if, in that which is another's * ye have not been faithful, who will give you that which shall be your own? No domestic can serve two lords: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will attach himself to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." **
[* "Another’s." To put in the word "man" is not only needless, but, as in many like instances, it confuses the sense.]
[**Translation from the Greek by Robert Govett.]
1. In the present parable, by the steward is intended the head-officer of the household of antiquity, who had the charge of all his master's goods, and of his slaves; and whose duty it was, to distribute to each the provisions for the day, or week, or month. But the steward in this case, was accused of being in the habit of robbing his master by wasteful expenditure; nor was this owing to ignorance, and incapacity to manage the business for we see in the close, how cleverly he provided for himself. The waste arose from want of principle. As usually is the case, such faithlessness was at length discovered, and notice given of it to the master.
2. He calls the steward before him, requires him to render in the reckoning of his management, and retains him in office only till he shall have had time to make up his accounts.
3. This is a severe blow to him. He hoped, it appears, always to be steward, to retain a quiet and comfortable place in his old age: but his hope is cut off. He therefore takes a view of his circumstances, and inquires very naturally - ‘What is to become of me? No one will take me as steward again after being dis-missed from my master for waste. I have not strength to take the place of a common day-labourer, and after having been steward, I cannot descend to become a beggar.’ It is evident then, from the steward's debate with himself, that he was conscious that the accusation was true. He knew, that he could not clear himself of the charge: he therefore dismisses that from his thought. He makes no question of his master's interests, but only of his own.
4. A thought suddenly strikes him. He would provide himself a refuge, when the stewardship failed. He would make himself friends among his lord's debtors, that they might be willing to offer him a home with them, when he was no longer steward. His plan therefore, was to call together his lord's debtors, as though he wished to settle accounts with them before making up his own. But he designed to lower the rent of each below the due and fitting sum formerly agreed upon. These debtors were, I suppose, his master's tenants, and the hundred baths of oil,'* and the hundred cost of wheat which they were bound to furnish respectively, were the rent of their land. So we find: Matt. 21: 34; Luke 20.
[* 100 Baths are equal to a thousand gallons. 100 Cors of wheat are equal to 3200 pecks.]
5. He lowers therefore their rent; the one by a half, the other by a fifth. This was his clever device. He bribes them to become rogues along with himself, and gainers by his knavery, in the full assurance, that, in consideration, of their lowered rent, they would be willing to grant him provision, and a home from year to year for the rest of his days. If they offended him, he would have his revenge by informing his master. They were therefore bound to do him kindness, by a sense of gratitude, and of their own interests.
6. But the affair comes to the master's knowledge. He hears of the steward's plan of providing for himself, and he says - ‘It is a very clever plan. He is a very cunning knave, and knows full well how to take care of his own interests.' Observe, not Jesus, but the steward's master praises the steward.* And the master praises the steward only for his prudent regard to his own affairs. Not that the master (and much less the Lord Jesus) thought him right in doing so. The master thought him a villain, even while he praised his cleverness in providing for himself, when his means seemed so limited, and his position so unfavourable. And Jesus calls him the "steward of injustice" (verse 8), to shew us His opinion of him.
[* In proof of this to the English reader, it may be noticed that the word 'lord' is written with a small 'l.']
But the great question is - How does the parable apply to us as believers? What is it intended to teach us as Jesus’ disciples? And the answer is: First, wisdom, forethought, provision for ourselves for the future; and secondly, faithfulness. The master commends in the steward his plan of raising up for himself, out of the money committed to him, friends who would give him a home, when thrust out of his former situation.
But let us see how fully the circumstances of the parable resemble ours. Each of us is the steward, and Jesus is the rich man. This is the place that Jesus Himself takes. The master praised the steward. "And I say unto you."
All that we have is not our own, but God's. It is committed to us, not to use it for ourselves, but for Him. But, as the steward was accused to his master as an habitual waster of his goods, so are we. Satan is the great accuser, and he has represented us on high as spending wastefully, and unworthily upon ourselves, the goods lent us to be employed in His service. And we must confess it true, and be silent under the accusation, as the steward was. The proofs are too evident to be denied. As also the steward was reproved by the master for his waste, and was bid to render in his account, so is it with ourselves. We are taught, how displeasing self-indulgence and wasteful we are to Christ, and are informed, that we shall have to give account of ourselves to God. Our master is a "king that would take account of his servants Matt. 18: 23. "After a long time the, Lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them Matt. 25: 19. "So then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God: Rom. 14: 12. We have received warning that we shall be put out of our stewardship at death. We must render up then all the means that are committed to our hands, and our present stewardship will be at an end. What conduct, then, befits us under these circumstances? Just to act as the steward did. He reflected what was best to be done. He must enter on a new and untried scene, and he desires to prepare himself beforehand, that he might not be launched upon the wide world, without power to provide for himself, or friends to lend him a hand and a home. Even thus should we think within ourselves. God is about to put us out of our stewardship; He will soon take us away from the means we possess, and from all this present scene. It should bring us, therefore, to the reflection - "What then ought to be done in these circumstances? - what is most prudent with regard to our own interests?" We should have a plan, and act it out. "For there is no work nor device in Hadees whither thou goest:" Eccl. 9: 10. "The night cometh wherein none can work:" John 9: 4. Our stewardship will soon be at an end. How then can we manage it most profitably for ourselves? for we may not carry away our wealth when we die. The steward argued with himself - ‘I cannot steal and carry off my lord's money; but I can make use, of what is intrusted to me, to raise up friends who will help me, when I am turned out of my present situation.’ So neither may we carry away with us any thing. "We brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out:" 1 Tim. 6: 7.
This is the very point at which Jesus takes up the steward's words and ways, and recommends them to us. His forethought for his interest displayed itself, in making him friends who would stand by him after he left his stewardship, in consideration of kindness done them while he was steward. He employed with eagerness, resolution, and expedition, the hold he yet had on the stewardship, in order to provide for himself when his hold on it should have ceased. ‘So,’ says the Lord Jesus, ‘I say to you, You have only a short and uncertain power over this world's goods; use them while you may, to made yourselves friends. Use your money, not so that it shall come to an end, and all its advantage cease as soon as you are dead; but so employ the goods intrusted to you during the short interval before your stewardship ceases, as to win advantages that will abide by you for ever.’
But the application is yet more particular. Put in practice his very plan. The Saviour's counsel is "Make yourselves friends" as he did: not friends for this life, who will requite you again - for against this the Lord cautions us: Luke 14: 12-14. No: you are about to leave this world: about to enter on the shores of that which is unseen: would you enter it a lonely unknown wanderer? Would you wish, when ushered into the invisible world, to find yourself without a friend? Would you like to be a stranger in a vast city, who knows no one, and whom no one knows? Human nature shrinks from it. If so, then, "make yourselves friends:" friends who will be looking out for your coming, who will go forth to meet you, and welcome your entrance with delight. But how have we the power to make friends? "Out of the mammon of injustice." By "the mammon of injustice" (or unrighteousness) is meant the false riches; riches wrongly so called. This meaning of the expression is proved by ver. 11, where the "unrighteous mammon" is opposed to the "true riches." So 1 Tim. 6: 17.* The riches of the present time are not true riches, but only seeming wealth: and this is all that is within your reach now; the eternal riches are the true riches, but not yet bestowed. Then, says the Saviour, out of the worldly possessions which God has given into your charge here, be making friends. Use what God gives you, not selfishly, to lavish upon yourselves; for this will not make you friends; but to show kindness to others. This is the true use and glory of wealth, to make ourselves eternal friends thereby. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." But it is not only more blessed - more like to God, who ever gives, but it is also more prudent for ourselves. Not prudent as the world regards it, for to the world it seems folly. The world's prudence is to lay up for its own use. ‘I cannot give; I may need it for myself.’ But the believer's prudence reaches much further than time: he is engaged in so investing his money, as to bring him in an eternal revenue. There are many ways of making friends with the mammon of unrighteousness. ‘Here is an orphan, there a widow, yonder a sick and poor brother in the Lord; that poor family is distressed for employment,’ To give, in such cases, is to make friends out of the false and shadowy riches of the world. These friends will last, when the possessions of this world will be no more. Hence, as I suppose, while the parable extends to showing kindness to unbelievers, the persons principally contemplated seem to be believers; for these will be friends for eternity: friends, who, when we die, will meet and welcome us to the everlasting tabernacles. "Let us do good unto all men, specially unto them that are of the household of faith." You must soon "fail:" death will seize you, and put a sudden stop to your stewardship. But if you use mammon as the Saviour admonishes you, you will turn the fleeting treasures of time into those which are eternal, and be welcomed by happy spirits ** who have known your love, to the blessed mansions of eternity. For the tabernacles on high are the contrasts to the present. "I must shortly put off this tabernacle," says Peter: 2 Peter 1: 14. But those are eternal.
[* Similarly do the LXX use the word in the Greek of the Old Testament.]
[** Be welcomed by happy souls.’ The soul is the person, not the spirit.- Ed.]
Give to others, so that they may be under perpetual obligation to you. If they do not return it here, they will hereafter. "They cannot recompense thee, but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." If they forget your kindness now, they will remember it by and by, when you enter on the mansions above. The widow whom you supported, the orphan whom you instrumentally saved, by wise expenditure of this world’s goods, from beggary and sin, will meet you as you rise, from the grave; and show you, with joyous face beaming eternal thanks, the way to the everlasting mansions in the city of God, which grace has provided for you. You will not be alone in that city of the just. Everyone who has tasted of your liberality will meet and receive you with gratitude. While he who spent all upon himself will keenly experience his folly and imprudence, you will feel that you have whatever you gave away.
The object of this parable then, is to teach the children of light, wisdom, or rather prudence; that is, a careful regard to their own interests. For, says the Saviour, "The children of this world are for their generation more prudent than the children of light."
The men of this age are not really and absolutely wiser than the children of the age which is to come, but only in one single respect. They are wiser or more prudent "for their generation." The children of light see that the things of this present time are passing away, and that the only objects worthy of steady pursuit are eternal. They are engaged therefore in heart, and determined to follow after eternal realities, and this is true wisdom. The worldly, on the other hand, are chasing the shadows of this present scene, and this is perfect folly; the world, and the period of mortal life, their own times, and the time of their children, is the sphere for which the men of the world are providing. This is their "generation." The eternal ages of glory are the sphere and "generation" of the believer. But while the believer is wise in his choice of the true end, and the worldly is foolish in his choice of a poor and false end; yet, says the Saviour, the worldly is more prudent in regard to time, than the believer, in regard to eternity.
There is no need for any to exhort the worldly to take heed to their own present interests. This is the first principle of their souls, and embodied in their plans, words, and life. But there is need of exhortation to the children of light, to be diligent in the pursuit of the real and true object, which they have set before themselves. "I will be rich;" says a man of the world to himself. With this determination, how steadily, and self-denyingly does he keep the design in view; turning to his advantage every opportunity that comes within his reach: letting nothing go without receiving its full value; lessening, as far as may be, his expenses; putting out his money boldly and lavishly, where it is sure of a large return; and sacrificing present comfort for future wealth. Even thus, should the child of light say to himself: ‘I desire to be rich too; only to be rich for my generation, that is for eternity; to be rich towards God. I will therefore see how I can turn every farthing I possess, so as to produce me the greatest return when I enter heaven. I covet bags that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.’ We have known many determined to be rich in this world, but have we ever known one so steadily setting himself to be rich in the next? Yet this were prudence for eternity, as the other is for time. The worldly then are wiser for the present scene than the believer is for eternity; and the word of Jesus is fulfilled.
Sometimes our Lord bids us seek for honour in the coming [millennial] kingdom; now He calls on us to be rich in the kingdom of glory and of God. The houses of the rich in this world are a great part of their wealth; but they are perishing; the owners are removed from them, and they decay by age, are destroyed by violence, or are ruined by sudden fire. But before you is set the hope of everlasting habitations; a mansion on high.
The use then of the unrighteous mammon, consists in giving it away. For this is the wisdom of God, this the trial of faith. To be rich for eternity, you must act in a way quite opposite to those who would be rich for time. He who would be rich now, hoards up for himself, or spends for himself, so as to produce the best return. But he who would be rich hereafter must now give to others, in order then to be rich.
7. But the Saviour proceeds to take up another part of the parable. He had bid us note the prompt cleverness of the steward in providing for his own interests: He had recommended us to be endeavouring, with the means now in our hands, to raise ourselves friends for eternity; and had exhorted the disciples to imitate the steady pursuit of the worldly after the riches of time, by their like steady pursuit of the riches of God and of eternity. But there was yet another most weighty lesson to be taught. He looks at the steward in regard of his responsibility to his master. Money is not our own, but a trust committed in order that we may render in an account at the last. He teaches us therefore next, the use of money, considered as involving responsibility to Himself. ‘You are stewards,’ he would say; ‘what you have is not your own. You are to use it, therefore, not for yourself, or with a view to your own pleasure; but for God. You are a steward, and it is "required in stewards that a man be found faithful." If then you reckon it as your own, and determine to spend it as you please, in luxurious eating and drinking, in sumptuous clothing, in jewellery, expensive furniture, amusements, music, unworthy books, and so on, this is abuse of your trust; and for this you will have to give account. You are not only accused to your master of wasting his goods, and ready to be turned out of your commission, but you will have to answer it when you render in your account.’ "He who is faithful in the least, is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much." That is, God is now trying us as His stewards; by committing to our hands that which is of small value. All the riches of the world are but poor and valueless, when compared to things to come. But though they be of small value, yet they serve to shew the characters of men. All can tell by our conduct with regard to the little with which God intrusts us now, how we should behave if placed in a nobler sphere. If then we prove faithful in the use of the wealth of this world, we shall still be accounted faithful when we enter upon the loftier scenes of the manifested kingdom. Every day of life is either proving us trustworthy, or the reverse; and according to the character we have displayed here, so shall we be regarded hereafter. And justly so, for character once formed amid the lower scenes, abides through the greater. The servant who has manifested himself careful in things of smaller moment, will prove careful if he be advanced to things of higher importance. The tempers that dwell in the soul amidst the employments of this world, will still reside there, and exhibit themselves, when the scene is enlarged. And therefore he who has been found trustworthy in the things of earth, will be found trustworthy, and treated as such, in the vastly more important ones, soon to burst upon us in heaven. He who has managed faithfully only a field, would be as faithful for his lord, if he gave him the charge of a province. And, in like manner, he who has been careless and faithless to his trust in a small matter, would be so in case his sphere were greatly enlarged. Change of circumstances does not change the character. The servant who stole pence from his master, when shillings were intrusted to him, would not become honest, if his master gave him the oversight of thousands of pounds. The present state then, is not only our education for the greater scene in which we are about to enter, but our present conduct will be remembered there. The tempers and dispositions that are fostered here, will go with us into the world beyond, and the acts of those tempers will be recompensed there. And as God does not (any more than any other master) desire to have His goods wasted, He is trying us here, to prove who are worthy of trust hereafter.
Having then stated the matter as to the principle, the Saviour proceeds in the application. Jesus desires to find trustworthy servants; and He will deal out to the disciples honour and riches eternal, as they have shewn themselves faithful or not. They must give in their accounts. If they have conducted themselves faithlessly in their present trust, they will not be promoted hereafter, and on high. The unjust steward is turned out of that which he has; a fresh commission is neither expected, nor granted him. If you have abused worldly riches, which are merely a shadow, who shall give you the true riches? Not God, for He requires faithfulness in His stewards! And yet, none but He can give it you. Here, therefore, recompense according to works even for believers is taught us ; though not salvation by works. If you have been faithful in a little, you will be entrusted with much. The parable of the Talents proves that: for he who used his talent to make it ten, is promoted over ten cities; with the remark from his master, that such fidelity in a little, was recompensed by authority over much,
The wealth of this world is the false mammon. It seems to be riches, but indeed it is not. It calls itself a thing real and stable; yet it continually flees from him who calls himself its possessor; and he is taken from it. It is exposed to the thief, and to losses from within and without; it is only the shadow of that which is on high. There all is real, fixed, and certain. Thief cannot enter; moth does not waste. Neither violence from without, nor corruption and decay from within, endanger it; nor is the possessor snatched away from it. The wealth that is coming is the true. It is to be your aim, therefore, so to discharge your trust amid the fleeting possessions of this present state, that God may account you worthy of the true riches when you enter on His mansions on high. Your circumstances there will answer fully to your conduct here. If here you waste His goods, you will not only be ashamed at His audit-day, but you will not be entrusted with the heavenly riches. As you have shewn yourself unworthy of trust in the one, so will the Lord esteem you unworthy of confidence in the other. Who will put confidence in a steward dismissed his place for carelessness or dishonesty? And in our case there is no choice of masters; the one offended is the only one who can promote us. Promotion belongs only to the trusty. Shew yourselves therefore trusty in what is committed to you, and you will be advanced one day to a position nobler by far.
But not merely is the wealth of this world falsely so called, because of its instability, so that it is not worthy to be named a possession; it is also unworthy of the name of riches on another ground. It does not belong to the party who holds it. He may think it is his, and call it so, and use it as if it were such. But indeed it is "another's." Riches are not ours, they are God's. He never gives them, to any in its full sense, so as to abandon the right to them, and to permit the possessor to do as he pleases with them. He trusts them to many, but he commits them to all only as to stewards; he intends that all shall give Him an account of what they have had, and how they have expended it. Not only then does prudence dictate, that we should use what we have as best will subserve our future interests in eternity, but a sense of duty and honesty should keep us watchful. ‘The money I have is not mine. I must lay it out, then, not as on myself, and for myself, but as a steward for God.’ If you thus act, something shall one day be made over to you, that shall be yours for ever - yours in full possession. Herein your expectation is greater than the steward’s. He looked for a place in another's house; you will have one of your own. But if otherwise, how can you obtain wealth which shall be yours? Such can come only from God; and if He find you a faithless steward, he will, after the example of the parable, rather turn you out of what was committed, than impart to you new possessions.
The service of mammon, that is, the acquiring and laying up wealth for ourselves, is impossible to be reconciled with the service of God in the matter. There is no middle course in the use of money, between the worldly use of it, and that pointed out by Christ. God and mammon are opposite in their tempers. God is love; mammon is selfishness. And as their tempers are different, so are the services and requirements of each, not only different, but opposite. The one says, "Lay up;" the other, "Give away." The servant must fall in with one or the other of these masters. If he loves mammon, he must neglect God, and in a measure refuse His service. If he loves God, he will serve Him, and so disobey mammon. The service of mammon is abuse of the stewardship which God has committed, and to the loss of your best interests in eternity.
But now, in conclusion, a few remarks upon the peculiarities of the parable. The question has often suggested itself both to friends and foes - ‘Why did Jesus present to our imitation a wicked man, and his deeds?’ To this we may offer a two-fold reply. 1st. That it is not only lawful, but right to learn from the evil, if they can teach us, either directly or indirectly, that which is good. Our Lord bids us imitate even the serpent. "Be ye wise as serpents;" so that we imitate them not in their venom, but are "harmless as doves."
2nd. But the chief reason, as I am persuaded, why Jesus took the case of an unjust steward instead of a just one, is, because He wished to impress on His followers a double lesson. Had He presented the case of a just steward, He could have shewn only the man’s fidelity to his master, and consequent reward. But the Saviour wished to manifest to us the full scope offered us, for prudence in consulting our own interests in the present use of money, as well as, the call to faithfulness in the, certainty of our giving account to God. By holding up the instance of an unscrupulous, unprincipled man, who at any rate would push his own interests, regardless of his lord's, the Saviour finds occasion to invite us to be as diligent as the steward, in the prudent regard to our own eternal interests. From the address of the culprit He teaches us the advantages of the prudent use of wealth in its eternal consequences. And by the sad results to the steward of his faithlessness, displayed in his rebuke and casting out of the stewardship, He would instruct us in the like disadvantageous consequences of unfaithfulness, to ourselves. The steward was prudent, and reaped the reward of his prudence; but he was faithless, and reaped also the sad recompense of his faithlessness. While then he was prudent, but faithless, be you prudent and faithful. By his prudence he gained friends. By his abuse of his trust he lost his post of honour. You, if prudent, will by your heavenly prudence, gain friends, as he did, only friends for eternity: and if faithful, you will be displaced from an earthly stewardship, only to be promoted to enduring possessions on high. As the master praised his steward for his prudence, so (it is implied) that Jesus will praise us, if we act as prudently. Yea, with further reason, for we shall then have acted agreeably to His instructions as obedient servants. By his prudence the steward won for himself friends among his lord’s tenants, and praise from his lord; as from his faithlessness he derived blame, and the loss of his character and place. But what was divided in the parable, may be united, yea, must be united, in you. If you are foolish for yourself, you will by the same conduct be faithless to your master; and if faithless to your master, you cannot make friends for yourself. If prudence extorted praise even from one made unwilling by injury received, how much more shall praise flow forth willingly from your Master in heaven, if to diligence for yourself, you have joined faithfulness to Him! If prudence could raise up friends, even when the master was offended with the steward, how much more certain shall the result be when the master is himself well-pleased? He gives the home in our case, and provides the eternal mansions: the friends we make only welcome us!
It is extremely worthy of notice to remark, how Jesus puts the latter of the two lessons. He does not say, ‘He found a home, who expected nothing from his master because of his being false to his trust; but you may expect something from your master if you have been faithful.’ This would have set us upon wrong ground, and made us ready to calculate upon our merits as deserving reward. Therefore Jesus states the matter as a logician would say, destructively. If unfaithfulness be discovered, a certain ground is established why promotion should not be granted to the faithless servant. But there lies no natural ground of claim for promotion when faithfulness has been displayed. The guilty betrayer of his trust is worthy to be sent adrift: but it does not follow that the trusty steward must be advanced. Reward and promotion shall indeed follow upon faithfulness: not because it is due, but because of promised mercy. We may argue therefore certainly as to the case of the unfaithful, while we may not argue front this parable upwards to the case of the faithful.
There is one great difference between the case of God our heavenly Master, and the earthly steward, which makes a corresponding difference in the result, highly worthy of notice. In things of this life, a steward cannot use a master’s goods for his own advantage without damage to his employer, and betrayal of his trust. But in our service to the Lord, we may use the wealth He has given us, in promoting our own eternal advantage, not only without injuring God’s cause and interests, but to their best advancement. God's interest, our brethren's, and our own, are united, and coincide, when we give to others. We are prudent for ourselves, in making friends for eternity; we are trustworthy towards God, in expending the goods committed us in the manner He approves. The steward lost his principal friend by the injury he inflicted on his master; while his prudence raised him up others. But we may, by gracious prudence and faithfulness, find both our Master and our Master's tenants our friends at the last, prepared, the one to welcome, the other to recompense us. In giving away to others the money of this world, you are not wronging your Lord as the steward wronged his; nay, rather, owing to the difference of the cases, you are executing your trust aright. It would be to defraud your master, were you selfish to hoard up money, or foolishly to squander it upon the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life. This would be folly for eternity; for money so spent is lost; and it would be faithlessness to your trust, calling forth rebuke, and loss in the day of account.
1st. Imitate then the steward’s prudence, and you will meet a like reward. Spend every shilling if possible, so that it shall bring in a hundredfold hereafter.
2nd. Imitate not his faithlessness to his charge, lest to you it bring damage eternally, as it did to him in time. As you are stewards, faithfulness is the prime quality required. Like him are you situated as to present duty, and as to future recompence. On your acquitting yourself conscientiously of your trust, turns, not your salvation, but the degree of your glory or dishonour hereafter. Dispose of what you have, in remembrance that it is God's, to be accounted for before the Lord Jesus, and therefore to be spent for Him now.
In the first lesson of imitating the steward, the result is traced to your own deeds as the natural consequence, "Make yourselves friends." In the second, touching your responsibility, the true riches are traced to God’s bestowal of them in the capacity of a judge recompensing you, "Who will give you your own?" As money is your own to dispose of, use it for your own future interests. As it is not your own, use it with an eye to God’s glory. And the time is short; let us use it diligently therefore! The time is uncertain; let us seize every opportunity!
The worldly, in putting out their money for their own advantage, inquire, in general, but two things: first, the goodness of the security; and secondly, the percentage or interest it will yield. On neither of these points need you stand in doubt. Your security for repayment is the word of God. "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth to the Lord; and that which he hath given, will He pay him again:" Prov. 19. 17. And the return for what you lay out is not as the world gives, five for a hundred, or at the best ten for a hundred. God gives a hundred-fold the sum put out: ten thousand for a hundred! Matt. 19. 29.
How marvellously and graciously would the Lord thus arm us against our natural selfishness, by shewing that our very self-love should prompt us to give to others, as the best way of providing for ourselves! And how it becomes the believer to expend his money with an eye to that day, when, before our Lord and Saviour, we shall give account of our stewardship!