And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely…
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.