Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 26: "Friends by the Mammon of Unrighteousness"
Based on Luke 16:1-9
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Christ's coming was at a time of intense worldliness.
Men were subordinating the eternal to the temporal,
the claims of the future to the affairs of the present. They
were mistaking phantoms for realities, and realities for
phantoms. They did not by faith behold the unseen world.
Satan presented before them the things of this life as
all-attractive and all-absorbing, and they gave heed to his
Christ came to change this order of things. He sought
to break the spell by which men were infatuated and
ensnared. In His teaching He sought to adjust the claims of
heaven and earth, to turn men's thoughts from the present
to the future. From their pursuit of the things of time,
He called them to make provision for eternity.
"There was a certain rich man," He said, "which had a
steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had
wasted his goods." The rich man had left all his possessions
in the hands of this servant; but the servant was
unfaithful, and the master was convinced that he was being [p. 367] systematically robbed. He determined to retain him no
longer in his service, and he called for an investigation of
his accounts. "How is it," he said, "that I hear this of
thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest
be no longer steward."
With the prospect of discharge before him, the steward
saw three paths open to his choice. He must labor, beg, or
starve. And he 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, they may receive me
into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's
debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest
thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of
oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down
quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how
much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of
wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write
This unfaithful servant made others sharers with him in
his dishonesty. He defrauded his master to advantage
them, and by accepting this advantage they placed
themselves under obligation to receive him as a friend into
"And the lord commended the unjust steward, because
he had done wisely." The worldly man praised the sharpness
of the man who had defrauded him. But the rich
man's commendation was not the commendation of God.
Christ did not commend the unjust steward, but He
made use of a well-known occurrence to illustrate the lesson
He desired to teach. "Make to yourselves friends by means
of the mammon of unrighteousness," He said, "that when it
shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles." [p. 368]
The Saviour had been censured by the Pharisees for
mingling with publicans and sinners. But His interest in
them was not lessened, nor did His efforts for them cease.
He saw that their employment brought them into temptation.
They were surrounded by enticements to evil. The
first wrong step was easy, and the descent was rapid to
greater dishonesty and increased crimes. Christ was seeking
by every means to win them to higher aims and nobler
principles. This purpose He had in mind in the story of
the unfaithful steward. There had been among the
publicans just such a case as that represented in the parable,
and in Christ's description they recognized their own
practices. Their attention was arrested, and from the
picture of their own dishonest practices many of them
learned a lesson of spiritual truth.
The parable was, however, spoken directly to the
disciples. To them first the leaven of truth was imparted,
and through them it was to reach others. Much of Christ's
teaching the disciples did not at first understand, and often
His lessons seemed to be almost forgotten. But under the
influence of the Holy Spirit these truths were afterward [p. 369] revived with distinctness, and through the disciples they
were brought vividly before the new converts who were
added to the church.
And the Saviour was speaking also to the Pharisees.
He did not relinquish the hope that they would perceive
the force of His words. Many had been deeply convicted,
and as they should hear the truth under the dictation of
the Holy Spirit, not a few would become believers in Christ.
The Pharisees had tried to bring Christ into disrepute
by accusing Him of mingling with publicans and sinners.
Now He turns the rebuke on these accusers. The scene
known to have taken place among the publicans He holds
up before the Pharisees both as representing their course
of action and as showing the only way in which they
can redeem their errors.
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