“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 an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.’”
Dear brothers and sisters, we are going to have a look at Luke chapter 16.
In the previous chapter, there was a story of a man with two sons, one of whom came back after he had left home and wasted all his possessions with prodigal living. His first son complained about his brother. “How can you hold a feast with a fat cow for the son, who left with your possessions and wasted all, while you didn’t give a young goat to me, who have been serving you all these years?” He protested the unfairness of his father’s generosity and insisted upon his right. Then his father replied. “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found” (Luke 15:31-32). Through the story, God is telling His servants to work for Him with a sense of ownership.
Let’s look at verses 1 and 2 in Luke chapter 16. “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.’” When someone reaches the state of being fired because of his incapability on the job, the person will most likely get reprimanded for the failure to do certain tasks. He might be told to hand in a written explanation. By the time the person reaches that point, he might think that he would be let go sooner or later. Some people who are in that situation try to take the confidential documents of the company and sell those to other companies when they leave their jobs. They use the documents as bait, “If you hire me, I will share the confidential of my old company.” In fact there are people who do that.
In today’s Scripture passage, a man was about to be kicked out of his job. I assume he was an accountant. In other words, he seems to have taken care of the finances of the household. Since he was about to be fired, he had to prepare for that; he had to find something to do and some place to go to. Usually landowners have tenant farmers. In the past landowners used to rent their land to farmers, and build their possessions by collecting some portion of the harvests without working on the farm for themselves. They increased their wealth just by renting their land to tenant farmers. The rich man in today’s passage must have had a steward to keep track of his possessions. He had him make an inventory of his possessions and sum up his income and expenses.
When the steward found out that he was going to be let go, he called every one of his master’s debtors to him. He was going to reduce their debt. “How much do you owe my master?” “A hundred measures of oil.” “Take your bill and sit down quickly and write fifty.” He called another debtor to his master. “How much do you owe?” “A hundred measures of wheat.” “Take your bill and write eighty.” They counterfeited their bills this way.
I Want All of You to Become Truly Wise Servants of God
Here is one strange thing; the Lord said, “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” (Luke 16:8). The master in the passage doesn’t refer to a human. If it had happened between a human employer and an employee, the steward would have gone to jail for embezzlement and forgery of private documents. However, the master commended the steward. The master in today’s passage refers to God. In God’s eyes, the steward dealt it shrewdly. He secured his standing ground by being kind to the farmers in case of losing his job and living as a pheasant along with those people who owe his master. He planned wisely.
The Lord didn’t praise his act of forgery. Do you think he would have been commended for the forgery purely done for his benefits? God said that he was wise because he prepared for the future by being magnanimous to his master’s debtors. That is why the Lord said, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).
He continued in Luke 16:9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.” The reason He used the term, ‘unrighteous mammon’ is not because the act of accruing possession is not sinful, but because people tend to use their possessions for evil purposes. However, such unrighteous mammon can be pure in the hand of those who are righteous. Mammon itself is neither evil nor good, but it is merely a tool: It is a good tool when used well; it is an evil tool when used in evil things.
“Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home” (Luke 16:9). This Word of God that commands us to make friends by unrighteous mammon is given to us believers, not to non-believers. As for the worldly people who will go to the burning hell, it is beneficial for them to live only for themselves; but it is right for us believers to make friends with people, bring them to the right place, and make them to receive the remission of sins. God will acknowledge those people who serve the gospel as it is written, “Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). God will give them rewards during the Millennial Kingdom and take them to His eternal Kingdom. But as for those who are not born again, they will have no choice but to enter the everlasting hell by the end of the Millennial Kingdom. The Lord prophesied definitely that those who participate in his first resurrection and those who participate in the second resurrection would be divided that way.
Brothers and sisters, steward is a person who is in charge of someone’s treasure. We are all God’s stewards, who take care of materials from God. This is the reason we should use the materials properly and wisely in doing good. The command that we should make friends by unrighteous mammon means that we must work hard to preach the gospel; to do so, we should serve one Master. One person cannot serve two masters and for us Christians, one Master is more than enough.
Shall we look at verse 13? “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.’” In this verse, God is asking us whether we should serve God or we should serve mammon; which one we should cherish. Brothers and sisters, the choice is not so difficult, is it? This is a very easy choice. It is important for us Christians to understand the Word of God, but it is more important to live out the knowledge by faith. So the Lord said this.
In Luke chapter 15, there is a parable of two sons. The second son left the house with his father’s possession and retuned home after wasting all the possession by prodigal life. However, the father embraced his second son, washed him, clothed him, put a ring on his finger and held a feast for the second son. The first son, who had been working hard in his father’s house without any complaints, felt displeased and upset to see all that. His father did not even kill a goat, not to mention a cow for him, who served the father all his life, but his father held a feast for such a prodigal son. It is understandable why the first son was so upset. But we should not look at the Scripture passage only superficially, because this passage was written for you and me.
The second son in the parable stands for those who do not know the Lord or the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and used up everything from God physically and spiritually. But such prodigal son came back with faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Therefore, God says it is worthwhile to have a feast, for the lost son is now back.
But how about the first son, who had been working himself to death? From human perspective, he could have felt that he was unfairly treated, but from his father’s point of view, what belongs to him belongs to the first son. After the harvest on earth is over, ‘the first son’ will have his portion waiting for him. Brothers and sisters, we who have had faith first might not be treated fairly while we are on this earth. That is why God is telling us to take such thing easy.
The Lord is telling us the parable of the steward for the same reason. It is not surprising to hear that one man cannot serve two masters. ‘Making friends by unrighteous mammon’ means preaching the gospel with all our strength. Should we seek the mammon or God? For whom should we live? Whom should we serve? For what should we live as we live on this earth? What is the wisest way of life as the world is heading to an end? To all these questions, there is one common answer. It is serving the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord told us the parables to enlighten us with the truth. Therefore, it is crucial for us to be loyal and faithful as the stewards of the Lord. We should know that God assigns His work to those who are faithful.
How are we supposed to live as believers of the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Even though we may not be acknowledged or treated well on earth just as the first son, who worked hard silently, we should live faithfully with servant’s heart. We should obey the Lord remembering that we will be recognized and rewarded for our work when we get to His Kingdom. That is why we should always live for His Kingdom.
We are meant to seek His will even if we won’t get any reward from the Lord. We are the people who are supposed to live for God. Since God has saved us by the gospel Truth of the water and the Spirit, removed our sins, adopted us as His children, promised us eternal life, happiness and glorious life, we must live such a faithful life even if we may not get any immediate reward for our work. We should live such a life just because of the salvation we have received.
The Lord asks us the question, “What is the wise way of life after the salvation” and gives us the answer to the question. We cannot serve two masters. We need to make up our mind and choose one; whether to serve God or serve the world. We should choose God, of course. We can’t have two masters. It is impossible to serve two masters. Then which side should we choose? We ought to serve the Lord, who has saved us, He will take care of our future, He will bless us, and lead us into the eternal Kingdom. We have to do His work faithfully until He calls us to His eternal Kingdom. This is what the Lord tells us to do.
Unfortunately, we forget this truth so often. I am not accusing you for not working faithfully, but I just want to emphasize that all the work we do should be the ministry that gives people joy and receive love from them. I hope that our Church will become a Church that benefits people and receives more love from them. It is our job to preach the gospel and help people by praying for them. We are doing such ministry to serve the gospel.
The message from today’s Scripture passage that we should make friends by unrighteous mammon implies that we should preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to those who are not born-again and lead them to salvation. This is what the Lord is telling us through today’s passage. When we ask people if they have sins, some people respond coldly, “Why do you care if I have sins or not?” Nevertheless, we still need to preach the gospel to them. To do so, we need some material things. Without money, it is difficult to hand out books or to manage our homepage; but it is hard to make money while it is easy to spend it.
Brothers and sisters, stewards have a mission to take good care of their master’s wealth and bring profit to their masters. That is their duty. Therefore, we should not pretend to live a holy life without doing anything, but we should earn money and spend our material things for the gospel.
I want to make friends by unrighteous mammon. I want to live a life of faithful steward. I believe you have the same wish. I pray that God will bless us who have such desire. I strongly believe that God will do so. I pray that we will have much more mammon so that we will serve the Lord abundantly.