Luke 16:8
The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the sons of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the sons of light.
Sermons
An Example of Wisdom from the Unjust StewardF. W. Robertson, M. A.Luke 16:8
Lessons from the Children of This WorldBishop Sanderson.Luke 16:8
Lessons that the Church May Learn from the WorldJ. R. Bailey.Luke 16:8
Ninth Sunday After TrinityJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Luke 16:8
Sagacity CommendedMarcus Dods, D. D.Luke 16:8
The Children of This World Wiser than the Children of LightArchbishop Tillotson.Luke 16:8
The Follies of the WiseAlexander MaclarenLuke 16:8
The Superiority of the Worldly Man's Wisdom to the Godly Man'sH. Melvill, B. D.Luke 16:8
The True WisdomT. Guthrie, D. D.Luke 16:8
The Unjust StewardCharles KingsleyLuke 16:8
The Unjust Steward Teaching a Lesson PrudenceCanon Liddon.Luke 16:8
The Wisdom of Making Provision for the FutureB. Keach.Luke 16:8
Worldlings an Example to ChristiansJ. Ogle.Luke 16:8
A Certain Rich Man Had a StewardW. Arnot.Luke 16:1-8
All Men are Stewards of GodLuke 16:1-8
An Account DemandedVan Oosterzee.Luke 16:1-8
Christian PrudenceF. G. Lisco., J. Thomson, D. D.Luke 16:1-8
Christ's Servants are StewardsB. Keach.Luke 16:1-8
Faithful StewardshipH. W. Beecher.Luke 16:1-8
Man's Debt to His MakerW. Cadman, M. A.Luke 16:1-8
Moral StewardshipJ. Tesseyman.Luke 16:1-8
Our StewardshipDaniel Wilcox.Luke 16:1-8
Owing to GodLuke 16:1-8
StewardshipCanon LiddonLuke 16:1-8
The Obligations of Great Britain to the GospelD. Moore, M. A.Luke 16:1-8
The Proper Improvement of Temporal PossessionsJ. Abernethy, M. A.Luke 16:1-8
The Stewardship of LifeThe Preacher's MonthlyLuke 16:1-8
The Sunday-School Teacher -- a StewardC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 16:1-8
The Universality of Debt to GodR. P. Buddicom.Luke 16:1-8
The Unjust StewardA. F. Barfield.Luke 16:1-8
The Unjust Steward an Example in One RespectS. CoxLuke 16:1-8
Cleverness and SagacityW. Clarkson Luke 16:1-9
Money as a Means of GraceR.M. Edgar Luke 16:1-13
How much owest thou unto my Lord? Taking these words quite apart from the context to which they properly belong, we may let them suggest to us the very profitable question, how much we, as individual men, owe to him who is the Lord of all.

I. WE OWE HIM FAR MORE THAN WE CAN ESTIMATE. Who shall say how much we owe our God when we consider:

1. The intrinsic value of his gifts to us. How much are we indebted to him who gave us our being itself; who gave us our physical, mental, and spiritual capacities; who has been preserving us in existence; who has been supplying all our wants?

2. The wisdom of his gifts; their moderation, not too large and liberal for our good; the conditions under which he grants them - in such wise that all manner of virtues are developed in us by our necessary exertions to obtain them.

3. The love which inspires them. The value of a gift is always greatly enhanced by the good will which prompted its bestowal. God's gifts to us his children should be very much more highly valued by us because all that he gives to us is prompted by his Fatherly interest in us; all his kindnesses are loving-kindnesses.

4. The costliness of one supreme Gift. "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." The costliness of that surpassing Gift is such as we have no standards to compute, no language to express.

II. EACH ONE OF US HAS HIS OWN SPECIAL INDEBTEDNESS. "How much owest thou unto my Lord?"

1. One man has been long spared in sin, and has been reclaimed at last; he owes peculiar gratitude for long patience and merciful interposition at the last.

2. Another has had his rebelliousness suddenly and mightily broken down; he is under peculiar obligation for God's redeeming and transforming grace.

3. A third has been led almost from the first by the constraining influences of the home and the Church; he owes very much for the earliness and the constancy and the gentleness of the Divine visitation. Which of these three owes most to the heavenly Father, to the Divine Saviour, to the renewing Spirit? Who shall say? But we can say this, that -

III. WE ALL OWE MORE THAN WE CAN HOPE TO PAY. We are all in the position of him who "owed ten thousand talents," and had not to pay (Matthew 18.). When we consider the unmeasured and practically immeasurable amount of our indebtedness to God, and also consider the feebleness of our power to respond, we conclude that there is but one way of reconciliation, and that is a generous cancelling of our great debt. We can only cast ourselves on the abounding mercy of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, and accept his forgiving love in him. For his sake he will forgive us "all that debt," will treat us as those who are absolutely free and pure: then will uprising and overflowing gratitude fill our hearts, and the future of our lives will be a holy and happy sacrifice, the offering of our filial love. - C.







And the Lord commended the unjust steward.
I. HOW INTIMATELY MIXED UP WITH EACH OTHER ARE VIRTUES AND VICES, GOOD AND EVIL, IN THIS HUMAN WORLD. In fact, no bad man is without some redeeming quality; and no good man (who is merely man) is without some taint or defect that mars the harmony and soils the whiteness of character. In the best men there is something to regret; in the worst there is something to admire and to imitate. What, e.g., can possibly be worse than the general conduct of this steward? Here he is treated with generous confidence by his employer, and he is guilty first of a carelessness in dealing with his master's property, which amounts to a breach of trust, and next of a deliberate effort to gain credit for personal generosity, and to make provision for his own future by falsifying the bonds in his keeping, which represent debts due to his employer. The man's moral nature, we say, must have utterly broken down, before such conduct could have been possible; and yet our Lord discerns an excellence glittering amidst this moral darkness. He puts forth His hand, and He isolates from the corruption which surrounds it in the steward's character, and He lifts up on high, that it may be admired and copied in Christendom to the very end of time one single virtue — the virtue of prudence.

II. THE HIGH RELIGIOUS VALUE OF PRUDENCE; its need and function in relation to the life and future of the soul. Prudence is in man what providence is in Almighty Cod. Its great characteristic is, that it keeps its eye upon what is coming; it looks forward to the future that really awaits us. What is that future? Nothing, most assuredly, nothing that lies within the compass of the few years, if indeed, there are to be a few years, that will precede our disappearance from this visible scene, but the existence beyond, of whatever character it be, to which, so far as we know, there is neither term nor limit. We know what to think of the men who trifle with baubles when great earthly interests are trembling in the balance, in those solemn moments which come and pass, and come not again, the moments on which all depends. Who can forget Carlyle's description of the unhappy Louis XVI., when, in his endeavour to escape from the triumphant revolution, he was brought to a standstill by the suspicious officiousness of some of the petty local authorities of Varennes? A little nerve would have enabled the king to escape the barrier that his enemies had thrown across the public road, by making a slight circuit in his carriage through the adjoining fields, and in twenty minutes or half an hour he would have been safe among his friends; and the course of his own life and all European history might have been very different, to say the least, from the event. But he hesitated, and hesitation was ruin. He hesitated, and as they showed him into the parlour of the village inn he discussed, with the good-humoured courtesy that belonged to him, the precise quality of the burgundy that was placed upon the table. But meanwhile events outside were shaping themselves irrevocably into the fatal grooves of that long procession of humiliation and suffering which ended with the guillotine. This life, for many of us, is the halt at Varennes. It is incumbent on us first of all to feel how immense are the issues that depend on the use we make of its fleeting moments. We must bear in mind that its opportunities are as brief as the consequences that depend on them are incalculable. This power of anticipating the reality, the reality as distinct from the appearance, is the first ingredient of religious prudence. We, too, have the sentence of dismissal hanging over us; but do we understand what it means, as did the unjust steward in the parable? For the second business of prudence is to take measures to prepare for that which is coming on us, and to lose no time in doing so. We must not let things drift, and trust for a good issue to some imaginary chapter of accident; we must make friends, as did the steward, who will receive us in this new future into their houses. And who are those friends? Clearly the friends suggested by the parable are the poor. The story of Fernandez de Cordova, who wrapped up in his robe the leper who was lying deserted by all men on the roadside, and who set him down on his bed to find indeed that he had passed away, but also to trace on his brow, on his hands, on his feet, the marks of His sacred passion, embodies why the poor can be said to be received into everlasting habitations. They are not alone, they are identified with One who has shared their sufferings without sharing their weakness; and who knows well how to reward that which is done to Himself in them. Yes, most assuredly, one Friend there is whose power to help us is without limit. He can help us through our passage to our new home, for He died that by His death He might destroy him that hath the power of death, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. And He can provide for us when we get there, since among His parting words were these: "In My Father's house," etc. Are our relations with Him such as to warrant our claiming His help in the hour of need?

(Canon Liddon.)

1. From their sagacity learn to forecast how to please God; to forearm ourselves against all assaults and wiles of Satan; to fore-think, and to be in some measure provided beforehand of needful and proper expedients for any exigent or cross accident that may probably befall us.

2. From their industry learn not to be slothful in doing service, not to slack the time of our repentance and turning to God; to run with constancy and courage the race that is set before us; to think no pains, no travel, too much, that may bring us to heaven; to work out our salvation to the uttermost with fear and trembling.

3. From their hypocrisy and outward seeming holiness learn to have our conversations honest towards them that are without, not giving the least scandal in anything that may bring reproach upon the gospel; to shun the very appearances of evil; and having first cleansed the reside well, to keep the outside handsome too, that by our piety, devotion, meekness, patience, obedience, justice, charity, humility, and all holy graces, we may not only stop up the mouth of the adversary from speaking evil of us, but may also win glory to God, and honour and reputation to our Christian profession thereby.

4. From their unity learn to follow the truth in love, to lay aside vain janglings, and opposition of science falsely so called; to make up the breaches that are in the Church of Christ, by moderating and reconciling differences, rather than to widen them by multiplying controversies, and maintaining hot disputes; to follow the things that make for peace, and whereby we may edify one another. This doing, we may gather grapes of thorns; make oil of scorpions; extract all the medicinal virtue out of the serpent, and yet leave all the poisonous and malignant quality behind.

(Bishop Sanderson.)

It was a piece of sheer rascality from beginning to end. There was no honesty in the man. He was out and out a child of this world — an example of the bad faith and base principles which govern in those who have no fear of God before their eyes. Though he did most unjustly, he yet did "wisely." There was a cunning, skill, calculation, farsightedness, and perfection of adjustment of means to his ends, worthy of all praise, if only it had been used in a better cause. And it is just here that we find the chief point in this parable. Separating the morality of the deed from the wit that directed it, the Saviour fixes upon the skill and prudence of this unjust man as an illustration of the foresight and calculation which should mark our conduct with reference to the necessities that are upon us in relation to eternity. There are three things specially noticeable in the case of this shrewd villain, in which his example furnishes copy for our imitation.

1. He considerately directed his thoughts towards the future. His worldliness and wickedness we are of course to eschew. But as he looked forward to his needs when his stewardship was ended, so are we to have respect to the solemn realities of the judgment and another life.

2. The unjust steward was also very diligent in improving his time, and making the most of his opportunities. If ever there was energy in him, it was now called into the fullest activity. Here was wisdom. Had he waited, postponed, delayed, the opportunity would have passed. O that miserable delusion. Time enough yet! How many has it utterly and irremediably ruined!

3. The unjust steward made very efficient use of very transient possessions. The control of his master's estates was in process of passing for ever from his hands. But he was wise enough to make them yet tell for his advantage in the beyond. And in allusion to this the Saviour says, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness"; that is, of the deceitful and fleeting riches of this world; "that when ye fail they may receive you" — or, ye may be received — "into everlasting habitations." There is nothing so fleeting and uncertain as riches. But fleeting, deceptive, and uncertain as they are, so long as they are in our hands, they may be turned to good account, and made to tell advantageously upon our eternal peace. We cannot buy admission into heaven with money. But we can add to our blessedness with money, and attain to higher rewards in heaven by a right disposition of the possessions of this life. " He that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord"; and the same shall be returned again with interest. "The liberal soul shall be made fat." Closehanded miserliness, and reckless waste and speculation, are as sinful and incompatible with piety, as profaneness and unbelief.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

I. THEY RECOGNIZE MORE CLEARLY THE NECESSITY OF PERSONAL EFFORT TO ENSURE SUCCESS. It was so with this unjust steward. Must do something. It is so with the politician, lawyer, business man. Instead of merely hoping, wishing, they put their shoulder to the wheel.

II. THEY RECOGNIZE MORE CLEARLY THE NEED OF THOUGHT, REFLECTION, ON THE METHODS TO BE ADOPTED. III. THEY ARE MORE WILLING TO MAKE PERSONAL SACRIFICES.

IV. THEY MORE FREQUENTLY MAKE SELF-EXAMINATION. Take stock. See whether they are advancing or going backward.

(J. Ogle.)

I. IT IS PART OF GREAT WISDOM TO PROVIDE FOR THE FUTURE.

1. This appears by the care and practice of all wise, rational men.

2. It appears by the care and labour of irrational or mere animal creatures.

3. It appears to be a point of great wisdom, because God Himself bewails the folly of His people of old upon this respect (Deuteronomy 32:29).

4. It must needs be great wisdom to provide for the future well-being of our souls, because all that were ever esteemed to be wise before or above all other things preferred this matter (Hebrews 11:25, 26; 2 Corinthians 4:18).

5. Because there is no avoiding our entering into an endless state of joy or sorrow.

6. Because the soul far exceeds in worth the body and all things in this world.

7. Because God from eternity studied and provided for the future good of our souls and bodies for ever.

8. Consider how soon I or any may fail, how soon the youngest may like a flower fade away; it may be this year, this month, this week, nay, this night.

9. If you are not provided for your future state, consider how dismal at death your state will be. Is it not the highest wisdom to prevent or seek to escape the greatest evil, and be possessed of the greatest good?

10. Consider that God has found out a way to make us happy for ever; and observe what promises He has made to such as before all things seek the kingdom of heaven and His righteousness.

11. How have many thousands bewailed their great folly in not providing for the time to come!

II. WHAT FUTURE TIME IS IT SUCH WISDOM TO PROVIDE FOR?

1. Against that time when the means of grace may fail, or all provision for the future may utterly be cut off, or our understanding fail.

2. The hour of death.

3. The day of judgment.

III. SHOW WHEREIN A WISE AND PRUDENT CARE TO PROVIDE FOR THE FUTURE CONSISTS.

1. We ought to think of our future state, into which we shall and must pass, when the soul shall be separated from the body.

(1)Think of the certainty of a future state of joy or sorrow.

(2)The nearness of it,

2. Consider the necessity of your knowing Christ, or of being united to Him by faith; for unless you truly believe in Jesus Christ, you cannot be prepared for the time to come.

3. This wisdom consists in a careful use of the means God affords, and has ordained, in order to faith, or a sinner's believing in Christ Jesus.

(1)Prayer.

(2)The hearing of the Word (Isaiah 42:23).Conclusion:

1. This reproves such as pursue the world as if they came into it for no other end but to eat and drink and heap a little white and yellow earth.

2. It reproves such as prefer the world above the Word, and the body above the soul.

3. It reproves such as put the evil day afar off, as if we spoke of things that will be long before they come.

4. It commends those who are heavenly, it shows the saints only are truly wise.

(B. Keach.)

Note some respects in which the world shames the Church.

1. There is the clearness of vision with which the worldly man perceives the object of his pursuit.

2. There is the unremitting effort with which, in relation to the attainment of this world's good, men pursue their object. Religion is not so real to most of us as markets and money are to merchants.

3. Think how careful men of the world are to use all their resources for the attainment of their end. No drones. No square men in round holes..

4. Think how determinedly the children of this world refuse to be deterred from prosecuting their schemes by the temporary failure of their efforts.

5. Is it not true that even the children of light themselves prosecute their worldly affairs in far more vigorous fashion than their religious duties? Does not care sometimes wellnigh crowd prayer out of our lives? Are we not all too prone to count our own private business that which must be done, and God's work that which may be done?

(J. R. Bailey.)

I. THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD. There are three classes of men. Those who believe that one thing is needful, and choose the better part, who believe in and live for eternity; these are not mentioned here: those who believe in the world, and live for it: and those who believe in eternity, and half live for the world. Forethought for self made the steward ask himself, "What shall I do?" Here is the thoughtful, contriving, sagacious man of the world. In the affairs of this world, the man who does not provide for self, if he enter into competition with the world on the world's principles, soon finds himself thrust aside; he will be put out. It becomes necessary to jostle and struggle in the great crowd if he would thrive. With him it is not, first the kingdom of God; but first, what he shall eat, and what he shall drink, and wherewithal shall he be clothed. Note the kind of superiority in this character that is commended. There are certain qualities which really do elevate a man in the seals of being, lie who pursues a plan steadily is higher than he who lives by the hour. You cannot but respect such an one. The value of self-command and self-denial is exemplified in the cases of the diplomatist who masters his features while listening; the man of pleasure who is prudent in his pleasures; the man of the world who keeps his temper and guards his lips. How often, after speaking hastily the thought which was uppermost, and feeling the cheek burn, you have looked back in admiration on some one who held his tongue even though under great provocation to speak.

II. In contrast with the wisdom of the children of this world, the Redeemer SHOWS THE INCONSISTENCIES OF THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT. Now the want of Christian wisdom consists in this, that our stewardship is drawing to a close, and no provision is made for an eternal future. We are all stewards. Every day, every age of life, every year, gives us superintendence over something which we have to use, and the use of which tells for good or evil on eternity. Childhood and manhood pass. The day passes: and, as its close draws near, the Master's voice is heard — "Thou mayest be no longer steward." And what are all these outward symbols but types and reminders of the darker, longer night that is at hand? One by one, we are turned out of all our homes. The summons comes. The man lies down on his bed for the last time; and then comes that awful moment, the putting down the extinguisher on the light, and the grand rush of darkness on the spirit. Let us now consider our Saviour's application of this parable. There are two expressions to be explained.

1. "Mammon of unrighteousness." Mammon is the name of a Syrian god, who presided over wealth. Mammon of unrighteousness means the god whom the unrighteous worship — wealth. It is not necessarily gold. Any wealth; wealth being weal or well-being. Time, talents, opportunity, and authority, all are wealth. Here the steward had influence. It is called the mammon of unrighteousness, because it is ordinarily used, not well, but ill. Power corrupts men. Riches harden more than misfortune.

2. "Make to yourselves friends." Wise arts, holy and unselfish deeds, secure friends. Wherever the steward went he found a friend. The acts of his beneficence were spread over the whole of his master's estate. Go where he would, he would receive a welcome. In this way our good actions become our friends. And if it be no dream which holy men have entertained, that on this regenerated earth the risen spirits shall live again in glorified bodies, then it were a thing of sublime anticipation, to know that every spot hallowed by the recollection of a deed done for Christ, contains a recollection which would be a friend. Just as the patriarchs erected an altar when they felt God to be near, till Palestine became dotted with these memorials, so would earth be marked by a good man's life with those holiest of all friends, the remembrance of ten thousand little nameless acts of piety and love.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. Our first object is TO ESTABLISH THE FACT, THAT "THE CHILDREN OF THIS WORLD ARE WISER IN THEIR GENERATION THAN THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT." We hold unreservedly, in both these respects, the wisdom of "the children of this world" is a vast deal more conspicuous than the wisdom of "the children of light." You need only cast your eye over the busy group of the world's population, and you will observe for the most part a fixedness of purpose which is altogether admirable. If a man have turned his desires on the amassing of money, he will not be driven aside, even for a solitary moment, from the business of accumulation; it will be plain to all around him, that he is literally given up to the influence of one engrossing and domineering passion; and if pleasure and ambition do exert over him authority, they are but tributaries to the prominent desire, and in no sense the principal in the empire of his heart. The case is exactly the same with the man of ambition: he has fastened his wishes on some lofty point in the scale of human preferment, and it is not the syren voice of voluptuousness, and it is not the stern ruggedness of the upward path, by which he can be induced to turn away his eagle glance from the shadowy prize which floats above him. But if we turn from " the children of this world" to "the children of light," we shall not find the fixedness and constancy of purpose which we see indicated in "the children of the world." But we go on to observe, in the second place, that wisdom is to be discovered in the choice and employment of means as well as in fixedness and constancy of purpose; and thus we think in this respect the comparison will go against "the children of light." You cannot fail to observe among the men of the world a singular shrewdness in finding out the methods most likely to effect their designs, and as singular a diligence in trying and adapting them. You will see nothing irrelevant, nothing which in all probability is likely to frustrate in place of forwarding, no risks run unless the chances of advantage do more than apparently counterbalance the chances of damage. You will not find them endangering their property by exposing it to sharpers, as a Christian does his piety by bringing it in contact with unrighteousness. You will not observe them so dull of apprehension, when there are opportunities of personal aggrandizement to be improved, as religious men appear when God affords them occasions to become better acquainted with Himself. You will not detect in them that indiscreetness in making associations with parties who are not likely to help them, which you see in believers running heedlessly into fellowship with unbelievers. The complaint of the prophet has lost nothing of its force in coming down through a succession of centuries; "Men are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge." And if in the choice of means, pre-eminence of wisdom must be denied to "the children of light," then in the employment of means we fear they still less can be held supreme. If you take "the children of light" in the Church where they are professedly giving their whole soul to the service of God, and take "the children of this world" on the exchange, when avowedly occupied with their temporal aggrandizement, on which side will yon find the most devoted attention to the business in hand? If you take "the children of light," when met by difficulties in their heavenward career, and "the children of the world" when stopped in the path of human preferment, which will set themselves with the most out and out energy to overleap the impediments? If you take "the children of light" when scoffers are around them jeering their piety, and " the children of the world "when sarcasms are being passed on covetousness or ambition, which will he most movedII. We come now to INVESTIGATE THE CAUSES TO WHICH THE SUPERIORITY UNDER REVIEW MAY BE LEGITIMATELY TRACED. In the first place it would seem well-nigh impossible that the delights of the next world should exert as powerful and pervading an influence as the delights of the present world, which address themselves directly to our senses. "The children of the world" have nothing to do but to follow the dictates of their senses; while we do almost say, that "the children of light" begin by doing violence to their senses. And thus, while worldly men may bring mind and body, and life together to the pursuit of their end, godly men have the body as well as the mind from the outset to the termination of their career to combat with; and if it be lawful to bring forward these truths, by way of excuse they may clearly be adduced, as accounting for the fact that the ungodly exhibit greater constancy of purpose than the godly; or in other words, that "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." Again, the unrighteous have only to do with one world; whereas the righteous have necessarily to do with two worlds. If I make the amassing of wealth my end, I may give to it an undivided and an undistracted attention, I concern not myself with the things of eternity; and what then shall interfere with my pressing on in the pursuit of the things of time? It is widely different with "the children of light." There must be earthly matters just as well as heavenly matters which require their attention; they cannot detach themselves from commerce, or from labour, or from study, and care only for the soul as ii there were no body to provide for, just as the worldly care only for the body as if there were no soul to provide for; and though it may be perfectly true, according to some of our foregoing remarks, that the minor interests may be, and ought to be, made subservient to the major; it is equally true that the difficulty is almost incalculable of so using the present world as not to abuse it, and following the occupations of earth with the dispositions of heaven.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The words are a comparison, in which we have —

1. The persons compared, "the children of this world," and "the children of light." It is a very usual phrase among the Hebrews, when they would express anything to partake of such a nature or quality, to call it the son or child of such a thing. Thus good men are called "the children of God," and bad men "the children of the devil"; those who mind earthly things, and make the things of this world their greatest aim and design, are called "the children of this world"; and those who are better enlightened with the knowledge of their own immortality, and the belief of a future state after this life, are called "the children of light."

2. Here is the thing wherein they are compared, and that is, as to their wisdom and prudence.

3. The object of this prudence, which is not the same in both; as if the sense were that "the children of this world are wiser than the children of light" as to the things of this world; but here are two several objects intended, about which the prudence of these two sorts of persons is respectively exercised, the concernments of this world and the other; and our Saviour's meaning is, "that the children of this world are wiser in their generation," that is, in their way; viz., as to the interests and concernments of this world, "than the children of light " are in theirs; viz., as to the interests and concernments of the other world.

4. Here is a decision of the matter, and which of them it is that excels in point of prudence, in their way; and our Saviour gives it to the "children of this world"; they "are wiser in their generation than the children of light."

I. I SHALL ENDEAVOUR TO CONFIRM AND ILLUSTRATE THE TRUTH OF THIS, BY CONSIDERING THE SEVERAL PARTS AND PROPERTIES OF WISDOM.

1. They are usually more firmly fixed and resolved upon their end. Whatever they set up for their end, riches, or honours, or pleasures, they are fixed upon it, and steady in the prosecution of it.

2. "The children of this world" are wiser in the choice of means in order to their end; and this is a great part of wisdom, for some means will bring about an end with less pains, and difficulty, and expense of time than others.

3. "The children of this world" are commonly more diligent in the use of means for the obtaining of their end; they will sweat and toil, and take any pains, "rise up early, and lie down late, and eat the bread of carefulness"; their thoughts are continually running upon their business, and they catch at every opportunity of promoting it; they will pinch nature, and harass it; and rob themselves of their rest, and all the comfort of their lives, to raise their fortune and estate.

4. The men of the world are more invincibly constant and pertinacious in the pursuit of earthly things; they are not to be bribed or taken off by favour or fair words; not to be daunted by difficulties, or dashed out of countenance by the frowns and reproaches of men.

5. The men of the world will make all things stoop and submit to that which is their great end and design; their end rules them, and governs them, and gives laws to all their actions; they will make an advantage of everything, and if it will not serve their end one way or other, they will have nothing to do with it.

II. GIVE SOME PROBABLE ACCOUNT OF THIS BY CONSIDERING WHAT ADVANTAGES "THE CHILDREN OF THIS WORLD" HAVE ABOVE "THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT."

1. The things of this world are present and sensible, and, because of their nearness to us, are apt to strike powerfully upon our senses, and to affect us mightily, to excite our desires after them, and to work strongly upon our hopes and fears: but the things of another world being remote from us, are lessened by their distance, and consequently are not apt to work so powerfully upon our minds.

2. The sensual delights and enjoyments of this world are better suited, and more agreeable to the corrupt and degenerate nature of men, than spiritual and heavenly things are to those that are regenerate.

3. The worldly man's faith and hope, and fear of present and sensible things, is commonly stronger than a good man's faith and hope, and fear of things future and eternal. Now faith, and hope, and fear, are the great principles which govern and bear sway in the actions and lives of men.

4. The men of the world have but one design, and are wholly intent upon it, and this is a great advantage. Application to one thing, especially in matters of practice, gains a man perfect experience in it, and experience furnisheth him with observations about it, and these make him wise and prudent in that thing. But good men, though they have a great affection for heaven and heavenly things, yet the business and necessities of this life do very much divert and take them off from the care of better things; they are divided between the concernments of this life and the other, and though there be but one thing necessary in comparison, yet the conveniences of this life are to be regarded; and though our souls be our main care, yet some consideration must be had-of our bodies, that they may be fit for the service of our souls; so that we cannot always and wholly apply ourselves to heavenly things, and mind them as the men of the world do the things of this world.

5. The men of the world have a greater compass and liberty in the pursuit of their worldly designs, than good men have in the prosecution of their interests. The "children of light" are limited and confined to the use of lawful means for the compassing of their ends; but the men of the world are not so strait-laced; they are resolved upon the point, and will stick at no means to compass their end.Concluding remarks:

1. Notwithstanding the commendation which hath been given of the wisdom of this world, yet upon the whole matter it is not much to be valued and admired. It is, indeed, great in its way and kind; but it is applied to little and low purposes, employed about the concernments of a short time and a few days, about the worst and meanest part of ourselves, and accompanied with the neglect of greater and better things. This ii wisdom, to regard our main interest; but if we be wrong in our end (as all worldly men are), the faster and farther we go, the more fatal is our error and mistake. "The children of this world" are out in their end, and mistaken in the main; they are wise for this world, which is inconsiderable to eternity; wise for a little while, And fools for ever,

2. From what hath been said, we may infer, that if we lose our souls, and come short of eternal happiness, it is through our own fault and gross neglect; for we see that men are wise enough for this world; and the same prudence, and care, and diligence, applied to the concernments of our souls, would infallibly make us happy.

3. What a shame and reproach is this to the children of light!

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

It is merely the wisdom, the practical sagacity, the savoir faire of the steward that is commended to our attention and imitation. A bad thing may be well done. The most admirable qualities — industry, perseverance, bravery, quickness — may serve to accomplish a wicked as well as a righteous purpose. Few can withhold a tribute of applause from the forger who successfully copies a very difficult bank-note, or elaborates a professedly medieval document so as to deceive even the experts. No one commends the morality of David when he played the madman at Gath, and scrabbled on the gate; but who has not smiled at his skill in meeting the occasion, in overreaching all his enemies, and making them serve him by the simple device of hiding the brightest intellect of the age under the vacant, silly stare of the idiot? The wisdom of the unjust steward, which we are invited to admire, appeared mainly in his business-like apprehension of the actual situation in which he was placed, and his sagacity and promptitude in making the most of it. He looked the facts in the face. He did not buoy himself up with delusive hopes. He did not waste his brief opportunity in idle expectations. He manfully faced the inevitable, and this was his salvation. The ability to do so is a great part of what is known as a strong character

(Marcus Dods, D. D.)

Our Lord pronounced the children of this world "wise in their generation"; and who can doubt that thousands who are lost would, with God's blessing, be saved, did they bring the same prudence, and diligence, and energy to their eternal, as they do to their temporal interests? But in how many people is consummate wisdom joined to the greatest folly? They are wise enough to gain the world, and fools enough to lose their souls. Convince a man that the only way to save his life is to part with his limb, and he does not hesitate an instant between living with one limb and being buried with two. Borne into the operating theatre, pale, yet resolute, he bares the diseased member to the knife. And how well does that bleeding, fainting, groaning sufferer teach us to part with our sins rather than with our Saviour. If life is better than a limb, how much better is heaven than a sin? Two years ago a man was called to decide between preserving his life, and parting with the gains of his lifetime. A gold-digger, he stood on the deck of a ship that, coming from Australian shores, had — as some all but reach heaven — all but reached her harbour in safety. The exiles had been coasting along their native shores: and to-morrow, husbands would embrace their wives, children their parents, and not a few realize the bright dream of returning to pass the evening of their days in happiness amid the loved scenes of their youth. But as the proverb runs, there is much between the cup and the lip. Night came lowering down; and with the night a storm that wrecked ship, and hopes, and fortunes, all together. The dawning light but revealed a scene of horror — death staring them in the face. The sea, lashed into fury, ran mountains high; no boat could live in her. One chance still remained. Pale women, weeping children, feeble and timid men must die; but a stout, brave swimmer, with trust in God, and disencumbered of all impediments, might reach the shore, where hundreds stood ready to dash into the boiling surf, and, seizing, save him. One man was observed to go below. He bound around his waist a heavy belt, filled with gold, the hard gains of his life; and returned to the deck. One after another, he saw his fellow-passengers leap overboard. After a brief but terrible struggle, head after head went down — sunk by the gold they had fought hard to gain, and were loth to lose. Slowly he was seen to unbuckle his belt. His hopes had been bound up in it. It was to buy him land, and ease, and respect — the reward of long years of hard and weary exile. What hardships he had endured for it! The sweat of his brow, the hopes of day and the dreams of night, were there. If he parts with it, he is a beggar; but then if he keeps it, he dies. He poised it in his hand; balanced it for a while; took a long, sad look at it; and then with one strong, desperate effort, flung it far out into the roaring sea. Wise man I It sinks with a sullen plunge; and now he follows it — not to sink, but, disencumbered of its weight, to swim; to beat the billows manfully; and, riding on the foaming surge, to reach the shore. Well done, brave gold-digger! Ay, well done, and well chosen; but if "a man," as the devil said, who once spoke God's truth, " will give all that he hath for his life," how much more should he give all he hath for his soul? Better to part with gold than with God; to bear the heaviest cross than miss a heavenly, crown!

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

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