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.
Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.
By the "mammon of unrighteousness" we are very clearly to understand money; but why it has been so called by Christ is not so evident. Perhaps the simplest, as it is certainly the most obvious explanation, is because it is so frequently unrighteously acquired, and so much more frequently as the man's own possession, and not as a trust of which he is merely a steward. But, however the epithet "unrighteous" may be accounted for, the thing which it characterizes is money. Now, there is a time when that shall fail. Death says to each man, "Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward." We can carry with us nothing out of this world. Money cannot-simply and only as money — be transferred into the world beyond; but it may be so used in this world as to add to and intensify a Christian's happiness in the next. We are familiar with the fact, in our daily lives here, that money may become the means of procuring that which is better than itself. Thus knowledge is better than wealth; yet by a wise use of wealth we may acquire knowledge. So, by a judicious employment of money as trustees for God, in communicating to the necessities of the saints, we shall secure that those whom we have thus relieved shall receive us into everlasting habitations. This use of money will not purchase our admission into heaven; but it will make friends for us there, whose gratitude will add to our enjoyment, and increase our blessedness. It will not open the gates for our entrance. Only Christ is the door. Through Him alone can we gain ingress. But it will affect what Peter calls the "abundance" of our entrance, for it will secure the presence there of those who have been benefited by our faithful stewardship; and, chiefest of all, it will be rewarded with the approbation of Him who will say, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto Me." It is of grace alone, through Christ, that we are permitted to enter heaven; but once there, the measure of reward will be graduated according to that of our faithfulness here as "good stewards of the manifold bounties of God." Those who have been helped and blessed by our service will lead us up to the throne, and say, "This is he of whom we have often spoken, and to whom we were so much beholden in the life below"; and He who sitteth thereon will reply, "Well done: let it be done unto him as unto the man whom the King delighteth to honour." Thus, though money cannot be taken with us into the future life, we yet may so employ it here, in stewardship for God, as to send on treasure before us into heaven, in the shape of friends, who shall throughout eternity redouble and intensify our happiness.
"Mammon" is just the Syrian word for money, and it is called "unrighteous " or "unjust" because those to whom our Lord was speaking had made their money by injustice. It was as little their own as the unjust steward's was. The steward was unjust because he had not regarded himself as a steward; and in so far as we have forgotten this fundamental circumstance, we also are unjust. We may not have consciously wronged any man or defrauded any; but if we have omitted to consider what was due to God and man, the likelihood is we have more money than we have a right to. The name, indeed, "unrighteous mammon," is sometimes sweepingly applied to all wealth and material advantages, because there is a feeling that the whole system of trade, commerce, and social life is inextricably permeated with fraudulent practices and iniquitous customs — so permeated that no man can be altogether free, or is at all likely to be altogether free, from all guilt in this matter. Take any coin out of your pocket and make it tell its history, the hands it has been in, the things it has paid for, the transactions it has assisted, and you would be inclined to fling it away as contaminated and filthy. But that coin is a mere emblem of all that comes to you through the ordinary channels of trade, and suggests to you the pollution of the whole social condition. The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the house you live in, the money you are asked to invest, have all a history which will not bear scrutiny. Oppression, greed, and fraud serve you every day. Whether you will or not you are made partakers of other men's sins. You may be thankful if your hands are not soiled by any stain that you have wittingly incurred; but even so, you must ask, What compensation can I make for the unrighteousness which cleaves to mammon? how am I to use it now, seeing I have it? Our Lord says, "You are to make friends with it, who may receive you into everlasting habitations." You are so to use your opportunities that when your present stewardship is over you may not be turned out in the cold and to beggary, but may have secured friends who will give you a welcome to the eternal world. It is the same view of the connection of this world and the next which our Lord gives in His picture of the last judgment, when He says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it," etc. Those whom we have done most good to are, as a rule, those whom we have most loved; and what better welcome to a new world, what more grateful guidance in its ways, could we desire than that of those whom here on earth we have loved most dearly? Can you promise yourselves any better reward than to meet the loving recognition and welcome of those who have experienced your kindness; to be received by those to whom you have willingly sacrificed money, time, opportunities of serving yourself?
The old Jewish writers tell us of a certain avaricious Rabbi who was very anxious to invest his wealth to the best advantage. A friend undertook to do this for him. One day the Rabbi asked the name of the investment from which he was assured he would receive the highest interest. His friend answered, "I have given all your money to the poor." You know, that if you were going to take a journey into some foreign country, you would change your English money for the currency of the place to which you were bound. You would convert your sovereigns, and bank notes, and shillings, into dollars, or roubles, or francs, or what not. Well, remember that we all have to take a journey into a land beyond the grave, where our money, and our pride, and our intellect, and our strength, and our success will not avail us — these will not be the currency of the country. Let us change our currency now, and get such property as faith, love, purity, gentleness, meekness, truth — these alone will pass current in the better country. Consecrate your wealth, or your work, or your influence, or whatever you have to God.
Probably most of us understand that we are to do what good we can with our "goods" now, in order that when we die we may receive the reward of our good deeds. But that is a very partial and imperfect reading of the words. It is true that our Lord promises us an eternal reward: but "eternity" is a word that covers the present and the past as well as the future. It is true He promises that, if we make friends of mammon, then, when mammon fails us, our "friends will receive us"; and it is also true that mammon will fail us when we die, for it is very certain that we cannot carry it out of the world with us, even in the portable form of a cheque-book. But may not mammon fail us before we die? May we not, even while we are in this life, lose our money, or find that there are other losses for which no money can compensate us? We know very well that we may, some of us know it only too sadly, Riches have wings for use, and not only for show. It is not only the grim face of Death that scares them to flight; they flee before a thousand other alarms. The changes and accidents in which they fail us are innumerable; there are countless wounds which gold will not heal, endless cravings which it will not satisfy. And the very point and gist and value of our Lord's promise is that, whenever mammon fails us, in life and its changes and sorrows no less than in death, if we have previously made friends out of it, these friends will open eternal tabernacles in which our stricken spirits may find refuge and consolation. It is this present, this constant, this eternal reward of a wise use of our temporal possessions on which we need most of all to fix our thoughts. And, remember, we all need it, the poor no less than the rich. For we all have some acquaintance with mammon, though for some of us, happily, it is a very distant acquaintance. We all have a little money, or money's worth, at our control, and may take one of two courses. Well, now, suppose a man has lived long enough to feel his feet and to consider the courses that are open to him, and to be sincerely anxious to take the right course and to make the best use he can of his life. All around him he sees neighbours who are pushing on with the utmost eagerness in the pursuit of fortune, who are sacrificing ease, culture, pleasure, health, and at times conscience itself, in their love for that which St. Paul pronounces to be a root of all evil, a temptation and a snare, and which Christ says makes it very hard for a man to enter the kingdom of God. He has to determine whether or not he will join in this headlong pursuit — whether he, too, will risk health of body, culture of mind, and sensitive purity of conscience, in the endeavour to grow rich, or richer than he is. He sees that the dignity and comfort and peace of human life depend largely on his being able to supply a large circle of wants, without constant anxiety and care; but be also feels that he has many wants, and these the deepest, which mere wealth will not supply. Accordingly, he resolves to work diligently and as wisely as he can, in order to secure an adequate provision for his physical necessities, and to guard his independence; but he resolves also that he will not sacrifice himself, or all that is best and purest and most refined in himself, to the pursuit of money and what it will fetch. Hence, so far as he can, he limits his wants; he keeps his tastes simple and pure; and by labours that do not absorb his whole time and energies he provides for the due gratification of these tastes and wants. Hence also he gives a good deal of his time and energy to reading good books, let us say, or to mastering some natural science, or to developing a taste for music and acquiring skill in it. He expects his neighbour, who had no better start nor opportunities than he, to grow far richer than he himself has done, if his neighbour think only of getting and investing money. And therefore he does not grudge him his greater wealth, nor look on it with an envious eye; he rather rejoices that he himself has given up some wealth in order to acquire a higher culture, and to develop his literary or artistic tastes. Here, then, we have two men, two neighbours, before us. The one has grown very rich, has far more money than he can enjoy, more even perhaps than he quite knows how to spend or invest, but he has hardly anything except what his money will procure for him. The other has only a modest provision for his wants, but he has a mind stored with the best thoughts of ancient and modern wisdom, an eye which finds a thousand miracles of beauty in every scene of Nature, and an ear that trembles under the ecstasy of sweet harmonious sounds. By some sudden turn of fortune, mammon fails them both; they are both reduced to poverty: both, so soon as they recover from the shock, have to make a fresh start in life. Which of the two is better off now? Which of them has made real friends to himself out of the mammon while he had it? Not the wealthier of the two assuredly; for, now that he has lost his wealth, he has lost all that he had: he has lived only to get rich; when his riches went, all went. But the other man, the man who read and thought and cultivated Ins mental faculties, he has not lost all. His money has gone, but it has not taken from him the wise thoughts he had gathered from books, or his insight into the secrets and beauties of Nature, or the power to charm from the concord of sweet sounds. He is simply thrown more absolutely on these inward and inseparable possessions for occupation and enjoyment. While he had it he made friends to himself out of the mammon of unrighteousness; and, now that it has failed him, those friends receive him into tabernacles which are always open, and in which he has long learned to find pleasure and to take rest. Poor and imperfect as this illustration is, for there are losses in which even Science and Art, even Nature and Culture, can give us but cold comfort — it may nevertheless suffice to make our Lord's words clear. For, obviously, if a man give a good part of the time he might devote to the acquisition of wealth to religious culture, instead of to merely mental culture; if he take thought and spend time in acquiring habits of prayer and worship and obedience and trust, in acquainting himself with the will of God and doing it; if he expend money, and time which is worth money to him, in helping on the works of the Church and in ministering to the wants of the sorrowful and guilty — he, too, has made to himself friends out of the mammon of unrighteousness, and friends that will not fail him when mammon fails him, but will receive him into tabernacles of rest. However poor he may be, he can still pray, and read his Bible, and put his trust in God, and urge the guilty to penitence, and speak comfort to the sorrowful; and, by his cheerful content and unswerving confidence in the Divine goodness, he may now bear witness, with an eloquence far beyond that of mere words, to the reality and grandeur of a truly religious life. Faith, hope, charity, righteousness and godliness, patience and meekness, will not close their doors against him, because mammon has slammed his door in his face. These are eternal friends, who pitch their tabernacles beside us wherever our path may lead, and who welcome us to the rest and shelter they afford all the more heartily because we have not where to lay our head.
It has been observed by an eminent critic, that the words, "mammon of unrighteousness" might be better rendered, "mammon of deceitfulness"; for Christ never condemned the possession of wealth as in itself an unrighteous thing. It is very often the righteous reward of praiseworthy toil. But He speaks of it as deceitful, because he who trusts to it will find that its promises are lies, and will fail at last, leaving him miserably alone; and with this failure Christ contrasts the certainty of eternal possessions. We can enter now into the meaning of the parable. If the riches of life — which are only one and a comparatively insignificant circumstance in man's earthly history — may prepare him for eternity, then it follows that every circumstance of life — our wealth or our poverty, our work or our rest — may form a training. Here, then, seems to be the thought which Christ has shadowed forth in this earthly form — Every circumstance of man's life may become a training for immortality. It is obvious that if this be true it is of supreme importance. But how is it possible for all our life to become a training for immortality? or, to use the words of Christ, how may we so make friends of our earthly circumstances, that when they have passed, we may have been prepared by their employment for the everlasting habitations? The tenth and eleventh verses of this chapter imply two great principles on which this possibility is founded — the eternity of God's law, and the perpetuity of man's character. On the one hand, it is possible to make every circumstance of life part of one grand training, because the law of the immortal life is the law of a blessed life here. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." These words imply that the law of God which guides us here extends over all worlds. The life of time is ruled by no different law from that which prevails in the great life of eternity. The faithfulness which makes men blessed here, is the same law of life which creates their blessedness there. This is obviously the first great principle that renders it possible for us to make our present circumstances an education for the everlasting world. If the law which prevails there were essentially different from that which prevails here, then no present conduct, no employment of the earthly, could prepare for the heavenly; we should have to learn a new rule of life, and every present circumstance would be vain as affording a preparation for the life to come. This is all we need know of the future, as far as regards our present conduct. This thought may perhaps be made clear to every one by taking an illustration with which we are all familiar. We know that in different countries different customs are adopted and different laws prevail. Actions, which in this land would be thought natural, would be considered absurd in another. Deeds, which in one land are common, might else. where be regarded as crimes. The man who would travel into other countries must first of all acquaint himself with their social customs, and study the requirements of their laws. He thus prepares himself to enter other lands without danger, and live another life without difficulty. Now we have a journey to make at no distant period into another world. We stand looking at its dim outlines, seeing friend after friend depart, waving us their sad, solemn farewells, and knowing that we must soon set out for that distant region. But the law, whose fulfilment is love, pervades every world of the blessed. The love of God, which forms the Christian blessedness in this low earth, is the source of the highest angels' bliss in the great eternity. Therefore we have no new law of life to learn. The other fact requisite to show this is the perpetuity of human character. See verse 11: "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" In their deepest meaning these words involve this principle — "Unfaithful in time, unfaithful in eternity." Some illustration of this perpetuity of human character is afforded us by the difficulty of changing men's characters in this world. How, for instance, can you change the character of a hard, selfish, worldly man? You cannot do it by reasoning. We know not what state may await us after death, but as far as we can gather from the teachings of the Bible, death immortalizes character. All life's affections, and fellowships, and friendships — all the revelations we have of human nobleness and grandeur — if they teach us more of God by revealing the Godlike, become a discipline for eternity. Every glory in nature — the pomp of autumn, the rejoicing beauty of the spring, the splendour of the sunset, or the majesty of the starry hosts — everything, in fact, in the outer world which raises our thoughts to the Divine, becomes a training for the immortal. Every dark temptation that makes us strong in resistive might; every gloomy doubt that by its conquest helps to strengthen our faith, every sorrow that drives us to repose more utterly on the eternal love, becomes a schooling for the higher world, where the presence of the Father is boundless joy. In conclusion, let us observe the practical application of the words of our text. They are a call to action. The duty to which Christ here summons us is to watch the formation of character. They contain also a lesson of encouragement.
A FAREWELL IMPORTS A LOOK BEHIND. What is there in the Christian's last look at the world? It is a fact that that look must be taken. We may avoid many things, but not that. Of the end of business we can have no doubt. If it end not before death, it will at death. When the end comes, there will be a tenderness in the adieu. Of course, there will be much to make a farewell pleasant. Business will be an object of not unmingled regret.
1. But still, we say, there must be tenderness in the adieu. It is an adieu.
2. But there are other sources of regret. Business has been a source of positive enjoyment. It has supplied a wholesome excitement. It has exercised the active powers.
3. Nor can we omit to remark that when the Christian fails in death, he leaves, in business, that which has been the channel and scene of spiritual things. It is in business he has "exercised himself to godliness." The place of work has been the place of prayer.
II. Let us now contemplate the Christian IN THAT BRIGHT PROSPECT WHICH IS BEFORE HIM WHEN HE LEAVES THE WORLD, as he looks forward to "the everlasting habitations" to which he will be "received" at his failure in death. That ground is Christ. It is not because we are by good works entitled to it, that we can obtain an inheritance above.
1. And, therefore, I remark, first, that though secular life closes at death, the Christian retains all that made that life holy and noble. With many, business was an end; with him, it was a means. With many, the thought, the care, the aim, the ambition, were all comprised in this outward world with him the outward world was but a glass, a tool, a stepping-stone.
2. And while the Christian retains his principles, which made his business good and holy and happy, those principles are transferred to a better sphere at death.
3. The Christian, in failing at death, will be able not only to expect the continuance of holy activity in a better sphere, but to connect his past with his future activity.
Every rich man who is growing selfish and using all his money for earthly uses only should study this parable. It would surely cure him. Money may be made a grand thing both now and hereafter; for by liberality you can change it into the current coin of heaven. You are like an orphan maid I read of, whose kind master allowed her to give away the fruit of his garden, that she might raise up friends for herself among the neighbours. Wealth thus used is worthy of its name, which is just weal
Mammon, the world — ah, is it not adverse to the interests of our souls? What then? Believer, adversary though it be, you may make it your friend. A skilful seaman, when once fairly out to sea, can make a wind from the west carry him westward! he can make the wind that blows right in his face bear him onward to the very point from which it blows. When he arrives at home, he is able to say, the wind from the west impelled me westward, and led me into my desired haven. Thus if we were skilful, and watchful, and earnest, we might make the unrighteous mammon our friend; we might so turn our side to each of its tortuous impulses, that, willing or unwilling, conscious or unconscious, it should from day to day drive us nearer home.
WHAT KIND OF DWELLINGS ARE THESE?
1. The sweetest peace reigns m them, as regards the body.
(1)There is no earthly burden.
(2)There are no afflictions or tribulations.
2. The sweetest peace, as regards the soul.
(1)There is no struggle.
(2)There is no peril.
3. The greatest joy reigns in them.
II. FOR WHOM ARE THE EVERLASTING DWELLINGS?
1. Not for sinners (Revelation 21:27).
2. Only for the just. To heaven we are led —
(1)By unwavering faith.
(2)By childlike humility.
(3)By a strenuous combat.
(4)By true justice.
()I. First, then, I desire to consider briefly that strange, new standard of value which is set up here. On the one side is placed the whole glittering heap of all material good that man can touch or handle, all that wealth can buy of this perishable world; and on the other hand there are the modest and unseen riches of pure thoughts and high desires, of a noble heart, of a life assimilated to Jesus Christ. The two are compared in three points — as to their intrinsic magnitude, as to their quality, as to our ownership of them. Of the great glittering heap our Lord says: "It is nothing, at its greatest it is small"; and of the other our Lord says: "At its smallest it is great." All the wealth of all the Rothschilds is too little to fill the soul of the poorest beggar that stands by their carriage door with hungry eyes. The least degree of truth, of love, of goodness, is bigger in its power to fill the heart than all the externals that human avarice can gather about it. Can we thus enter into the understanding of Christ's scale and standard, and think of all the external as "that which is least," and of all the inward as "that which is much"? The world looks at worldly wealth through a microscope which magnifies the infinitesimally small, and then it looks at "the land that is very far off" through a telescope turned the wrong way, which diminishes all that is great. But if we can get up by the side of Jesus Christ and see things with His eyes and from His station, it will be as when a man climbs a mountain, and the little black line, as it seemed to him when looked at from the plain, has risen up into a giant cliff; and all the big things down below, as they seemed when he was among them, have dwindled. That white speck is a palace; that bit of a green patch there, over which the skylark flies in a minute, is a great lord's estate. Oh, dear brethren, we do not need to wait to get to heaven to learn heaven's tables of weights and measures! One grain of true love to God is greater in its power to enrich than a California of gold. Take, again, the second antithesis, the "unrighteous mammon" and "the true riches." That word, "unrighteous" in its application to material good, is somewhat difficult. If we keep strictly to the antithesis "unrighteous" must be the opposite of "true." The word would then come to mean very nearly the same as "deceitful" — that which betrays. And so we have presented to us the old familiar thought that external good of all sorts looks to be a great deal better than it is. It promises a great many things that it never fulfils, tempting us as a fish is tempted to the hook by a bait which hides the hook. But the inward riches of faith, true holiness, lofty aspirations, Christ-directed purposes, all these are true. They promise no more than they perform. They bring more than they said they would. No man ever said, "I have tasted Thy love, and lo! it does not satisfy me! I have realized Thy help, and lo! it has not been enough!" And then the last contrast is between "another's" and "your own." Another's? Well, that may mean God's; and therefore you are stewards, as the whole parable that precedes the text has been teaching. But I am not sure that that is the only, nor indeed the principal reference of the word here. And I think when our Lord speaks of all outward possessions as being, even whilst mine, another's, He means to point there, not only to the fact of stewardship, but also to the fact of the limitations and defects of all outward possessions of outward good. That is to say, there is no real contact between the outward things that a man has and himself. The only things that you really have, paradox as it sounds, are the things that you are. All the rest you hold by a very slight tie, like the pearls that are sewn upon some half-barbarous Eastern magnate's jacket, which he shakes off as he walks. So men say, "This is mine!" and it only means "It is not yours." There is no real possession, even while there is an apparent one, and just because there is no real contact, because there is always a gap between the man and his goods, because he has not, as it were, gathered them into himself, therefore the possession is transient as well as incomplete. It slips away from the hand even whilst you hold it. And just as we may say, "There is no present, but everything is past or future, and what we call the present is only the meeting point of these two times," so we may say, there is no possession, because everything is either coming into my hands or going out of them, and my apparent ownership is only for a moment. I simply transmit.'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands.And so it passes. And then consider the common accidents of life which rob men of their goods, and the waste by the very act of use, which gnaws them away as the sea does the cliffs; and, last of all, death's separation. What can be taken out of a man's hands by death has no right to be called his.
II. Notice for a moment the other broad principle that is laid down in these three verses, as to THE HIGHEST USE OF THE LOWER GOOD. Whether you are a Christian man or whether you are not, this is true about you, that the way in which you deal with your outward goods, your wealth, your capacity of all sorts, may become a barrier to your possessing the higher, or it may become a mighty help. There are plenty of people, and some of them listening to me now, who are kept from being Christians because they love the world so much. The world thinks that the highest use of the highest things is to gain possession of the lowest thereby, and that truth and genius and poetry are given to select spirits and are wasted unless "they make money out of them. Christ's notion of the relationship is exactly the opposite, that all the out. ward is then lifted to its noblest purpose when it is made rigidly subordinate to the highest; and that the best thing that any man can do with his money is so to spend it as to "purchase for himself a good degree," "laying up for himself in store a good foundation that he may lay hold on eternal life."
III. And now let me say one last word as to THE FAITHFULNESS WHICH THUS UTILIZES THE LOWEST AS A MEANS OF POSSESSING MORE FULLY THE HIGHEST. You will be "faithful" if, through all your administrations of your possessions, there runs, first, the principle of stewardship; you will be "faithful" if, through all your administration of your earthly possessions, there runs, second, the principle of sacrifice; you will be "faithful" if, through all your administration of your earthly possessions, there runs, third, the principle of brotherhood.
()Christ here tells us plainly which is the path of wisdom. When we see a man making ducks and drakes of his money, we call him a fool — and so he is, from our point of view, because he might be acquiring solid advantages with what he is wasting. But, from the point of view of the gospel, we are just as great fools ourselves, for those solid advantages of which we speak are probably as far from being eternal as the others; keeping our eyes fixed upon the everlasting future, we must admit that every penny spent upon ourselves is as much wasted as if we had chucked it into the river. Do not then ask me, "May I allow myself this luxury?" or "May I not indulge this taste?" Of course you may, as long as it is harmless, but you will be wiser if you don't, for you might with the same money be making friends for eternity. This saying of our Lord, then, is, in its fulness, for those that can receive it, and they are, perhaps, as few as they are happy; when we get to heaven and behold the richness of their reward, the overflowing happiness of those who have spent and been spent in making others happy, we shall wonder how we could have been so stupid as to waste our money on ourselves. For the rest of us, it is a principle which we must acknowledge humbly, even if we have not strength of mind to act upon it much at present. We may still decide, perhaps, to live up to our income, to live according to our rank, to maintain a certain style, and so on, but we will not be such contemptible hypocrites as to pretend that this is the path of Christian wisdom. The principle which Christ lays down we shall keep before our eyes, and we shall pray that it may sink little by little into our hearts, until it begin to bear fruit in our lives — the principle, I mean, that every penny spent on self is wasted, every penny we can learn to part with is saved because laid up with Him.
()You want to double your riches, and without gambling or stock-jobbing. Share it. Whether it be material or intellectual, its rapid increase will amaze you. What would the sun have been, had he folded himself up in darkness? Surely he would have gone out. So would Socrates. This road to wealth seems to have been discovered some three thousand years ago; at least it was known to Hesiod, and has been recommended by him in the one precious line he has left us. But even he complains of the fools who did not know that half is more than the whole. And ever since, though mankind have always been in full chase after riches, though they have not feared to follow Columbus and Gama in chase of it, though they have waded through blood, and crept through falsehood, and trampled on their own hearts, and been ready to ride on a broomstick, in chase of it, very few have ever taken the road, albeit the easiest, the shortest, and the surest.
PeopleJesus, Job, John, Lazarus
PlacesRoad to Jerusalem
TopicsAge-during, Charge, Dishonesty, Dwellings, Eternal, Everlasting, Fail, Fails, Friends, Gain, Habitations, Mammon, Perish, Receive, Received, Resting-places, Tabernacles, Tempting, Tents, Unrighteous, Unrighteousness, Wealth, Welcome, Welcomed, Win, Yourselves
Outline1. The parable of the unjust steward.
14. Jesus reproves the hypocrisy of the covetous Pharisees.
19. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesLuke 16:9
5503 rich, the
8436 giving, of possessions
8463 priority, of faith, hope and love
9122 eternity, and God
8715 dishonesty, and God
7552 Pharisees, attitudes to Christ
8841 unfaithfulness, to people
5414 money, stewardship
LibraryThe Unjust Steward
Eversley, 1866. NINTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. Luke xvi. 8. "And the Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely." None of our Lord's parables has been as difficult to explain as this one. Learned and pious men have confessed freely, in all ages, that there is much in the parable which they cannot understand; and I am bound to confess the same. The puzzle is, plainly, why our Lord should SEEM to bid us to copy the conduct of a bad man and a cheat. For this is the usual interpretation. …
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons
September 8 Morning
Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.--DAN. 5:27. The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him, actions are weighed.--That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.--The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.--Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth …
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path
February 9 Morning
Now he is comforted.--LUKE 16:25. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.--He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth.--These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore …
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path
February 7. "Faithful in that which is Least" (Luke xvi. 10).
"Faithful in that which is least" (Luke xvi. 10). The man that missed his opportunity and met the doom of the faithless servant was not the man with five talents, or the man with two, but the man who had only one. The people who are in danger of missing life's great meaning are the people of ordinary capacity and opportunity, and who say to themselves, "There is so little I can do that I will not try to do anything." One of the finest windows in Europe was made from the remnants an apprentice boy …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
The Gains of the Faithful Steward
'If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?' --LUKE xvi. 12. In a recent sermon on this context I dealt mainly with the threefold comparison which our Lord runs between the higher and the lower kind of riches. The one is stigmatised as 'that which is least,' the unrighteous mammon,' 'that which is another's'; whilst the higher is magnified as being 'that which is most,' 'the true riches,' 'your own.' What are these two classes? On the one …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
Memory in Another World
'Abraham said, Son, remember!'--LUKE xvi. 25. It is a very striking thought that Christ, if He be what we suppose Him to be, knew all about the unseen present which we call the future, and yet was all but silent in reference to it. Seldom is it on His lips at all. Of arguments drawn from another world He has very few. Sometimes He speaks about it, but rather by allusion than in anything like an explicit revelation. This parable out of which my text is taken, is perhaps the most definite and continuous …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
The Follies of the Wise
'The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.'--LUKE xvi. 8. The parable of which these words are the close is remarkable in that it proposes a piece of deliberate roguery as, in some sort, a pattern for Christian people. The steward's conduct was neither more nor less than rascality, and yet, says Christ, 'Do like that!' The explanation is to be found mainly in the consideration that what was faithless sacrifice of his master's interests, on the part of the …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
Two Kinds of Riches
'He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12. And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?'--LUKE xvi. 10-12. That is a very strange parable which precedes my text, in which our Lord takes a piece of crafty dishonesty on the part of a …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
Dives and Lazarus
'There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23. And in hell he lifted up his eyes, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions Of Holy Scripture
"And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. But he said, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."--ST. LUKE xvi. 30, 31. It is by no means uncommon for any one who is living a life which does not satisfy his own conscience to console himself with the fancy that if only such and such things were different around him he would be a new man, filled with a new spirit, and exhibiting a new …
John Percival—Sermons at Rugby
On the Words of the Gospel, Luke xvi. 9, "Make to Yourselves Friends by Means of the Mammon of Unrighteousness," Etc.
1. Our duty is to give to others the admonitions we have received ourselves. The recent lesson of the Gospel has admonished us to make friends of the mammon of iniquity, that they too may "receive" those who do so "into everlasting habitations." But who are they that shall have everlasting habitations, but the Saints of God? And who are they who are to be received by them into everlasting habitations, but they who serve their need, and minister cheerfully to their necessities? Accordingly let us …
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament
The Good Steward
"Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward." Luke 16:2. 1. The relation which man bears to God, the creature to his Creator, is exhibited to us in the oracles of God under various representations. Considered as a sinner, a fallen creature, he is there represented as a debtor to his Creator. He is also frequently represented as a servant, which indeed is essential to him as a creature; insomuch that this appellation is given to the Son of God when, in His state of humiliation, …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
The Rich Man and Lazarus
"If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Luke 16:31. 1. How strange a paradox is this! How contrary to the common apprehension of men! Who is so confirmed in unbelief as not to think, "If one came to me from the dead, I should be effectually persuaded to repent?" But this passage affords us a more strange saying: (Luke 16:13:) "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." "No! Why not? Why cannot we serve both?" will a true servant of mammon say. …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
The Use of Money
"I say unto you, Make unto yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into the everlasting habitations." Luke 16:9. 1. Our Lord, having finished the beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son, which he had particularly addressed to those who murmured at his receiving publicans and sinners, adds another relation of a different kind, addressed rather to the children of God. "He said unto his disciples," not so much to the scribes and Pharisees to whom he …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
A Preacher from the Dead
Amongst other whims which have occured to the human mind, such an one as that of my text may sometimes have arisen. "If," said the rich man in hell, "if one should arise from the dead, if Lazarus should go from heaven to preach, my hardened brethren would repent." And some have been apt to say, "If my aged father, or some venerable patriarch could rise from the dead and preach, we should all of us turn to God." That is another way of casting the blame in the wrong quarter: we shall endeavor, if we …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857
The Sunday-School Teacher --A Steward
WE HAVE HEARD many times in our lives, that we are all stewards to Almighty God. We hold it as a solemn truth of our religion, that the rich man is responsible for the use which he makes of his wealth; that the talented man must give an account to God of the interest which he getteth upon his talents; that every one of us, in proportion to our time and opportunities, must give an account for himself before Almighty God. But, my dear brothers and sisters, our responsibility is even deeper and greater …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858
Rendering Our Account.
(Ninth Sunday after Trinity.) S. LUKE xvi. 2. "Give an account of thy stewardship." My brothers, we shall all hear that command one day. When our earthly business is finished and done with, when our debts are paid, and our just claims settled, and our account books balanced for the last time, we must render our account to God, the Righteous Judge. But it is not only at the day of Judgment that the Lord so calls upon us. Then He will ask for the final reckoning,--"Give an account of thy stewardship, …
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2
(First Sunday after Trinity.) S. LUKE xvi. 19, 20. "There was a certain rich man, . . . and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus." What was the rich man's sin? We are not told that he had committed any crime. He is not described as an extortioner or unjust. There is no word about his having been an adulterer, or a thief, or an unbeliever, or a Sabbath breaker. Surely there was no sin in his being rich, or wearing costly clothes if he could afford it. Certainly not: it is not money, but …
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2
1st Sunday after Trinity. S. Luke xvi. 23. "In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments." INTRODUCTION.--What a great surprise for Dives! So utterly unawaited! Dives, who had lived so comfortably, clothed in purple and fine linen, and had had such a good coat, and such excellent dinners, and such a cellar of wine, and such good friends at his dinners, goes to sleep one night after a banquet, and wakes up, and lo!--he is in hell. Surprise number one. He feels the flames, he perceives himself …
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent
9th Sunday after Trinity. S. Luke xvi, 3, 4. "What shall I do?--I am resolved what to do." INTRODUCTION.--The dishonest Steward in to-day's Gospel shows us the natural tendency of the human heart when in a scrape--to have recourse to dishonesty to escape from it. He knows that he is about to be turned out of his stewardship because he has been wasteful--not dishonest, but wasteful. He has not been a prudent and saving steward, but a sort of happy-go-lucky man who has not kept the accounts carefully, …
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent
The Unrighteous Mammon
(Ninth Sunday after Trinity.) Luke xvi. 1-8. And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved …
Charles Kingsley—Town and Country Sermons
First Part of the Book.
At the first: man shall look that he lose not his short time, nor spend it wrongly, nor in idleness let it pass away. GOD has lent man his time, to serve GOD in, and to gather grace with good works, to buy heaven with. Not only this short time flies from us, but also the time of our life, as the wise man says: "Our life-time passes away." And S. Gregory says:--"Our life is like a man in a ship; sit he, stand he, sleep he, wake he, ever he gets thitherward where the ship is driving with the force …
Richard Rolle of Hampole—The Form of Perfect Living and Other Prose Treatises
The Unjust Steward - Dives and Lazarus - Jewish Agricultural Notes - Prices of Produce - Writing and Legal Documents - Purple and Fine Linen -
Although widely differing in their object and teaching, the last group of Parables spoken during this part of Christ's Ministry are, at least outwardly, connected by a leading thought. The word by which we would string them together is Righteousness. There are three Parables of the Unrighteous: the Unrighteous Steward, the Unrighteous Owner, and the Unrighteous Dispenser, or Judge. And these are followed by two other Parables of the Self-righteous: Self-righteousness in its Ignorance, and its dangers …
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
The Prudent Steward.
"And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, …
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord
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