Friends by the Mammon
This chapter is based on
the following verses:
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
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
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
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 their homes.
"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." R.V.
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
revived with distinctness, and
through the disciples they were brought vividly before the new converts who were added to
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.
To the unfaithful steward his
lord's goods had been entrusted for benevolent purposes; but he had used them for himself.
So with Israel. God had chosen the seed of Abraham. With a high arm He had delivered them
from bondage in Egypt. He had made them the depositaries of sacred truth for the blessing
of the world. He had entrusted to them the living oracles that they might communicate the
light to others. But His stewards had used these gifts to enrich and exalt themselves.
The Pharisees, filled with
self-importance and self-righteousness, were misapplying the goods lent them by God to use
for His glory.
The servant in the parable
had made no provision for the future. The goods entrusted to him for the benefit of others
he had used for himself; but he had thought only of the present. When the stewardship
should be taken from him, he would have nothing to call his own. But his master's goods
were still in his hands, and he determined
to use them so as to secure himself against
future want. To accomplish this he must work on a new plan. Instead of gathering for
himself, he must impart to others. Thus he might secure friends, who, when he should be
cast out, would receive him. So with the Pharisees. The stewardship was soon to be taken
from them, and they were called upon to provide for the future. Only by seeking the good
of others could they benefit themselves. Only by imparting God's gifts in the present life
could they provide for eternity.
After relating the parable,
Christ said, "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the
children of light." That is, worldly-wise men display more wisdom and earnestness in
serving themselves than do the professed children of God in their service to Him. So it
was in Christ's day. So it is now. Look at the life of many who claim to be Christians.
The Lord has endowed them with capabilities, and power, and influence; He has entrusted
them with money, that they may be co-workers with Him in the great redemption. All His
gifts are to be used in blessing humanity, in relieving the suffering and the needy. We
are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the widow and the fatherless, to
minister to the distressed and downtrodden. God never meant that the widespread misery in
the world should exist. He never meant that one man should have an abundance of the
luxuries of life, while the children of others should cry for bread. The means over and
above the actual necessities of life are entrusted to man to do good, to bless humanity.
The Lord says, "Sell that ye have, and give alms." Luke 12:33. Be "ready to
distribute, willing to communicate." 1 Tim. 6:18. "When thou makest a feast,
call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind." Luke 14:13. "Loose the bands of
wickedness," "undo the heavy burdens," "let the oppressed go
"break every yoke." "Deal thy bread to the hungry,"
"bring the poor that are cast out to thy house." "When thou seest the
naked,. . . cover him." "Satisfy the afflicted soul." Isa. 58:6, 7, 10.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15.
These are the Lord's commands. Are the great body of professed Christians doing this work?
Alas, how many are
appropriating to themselves the gifts of God! How many are adding house to house and land
to land. How many are spending their money for pleasure, for the gratification of
appetite, for extravagant houses, furniture, and dress. Their fellow beings are left to
misery and crime, to disease and death. Multitudes are perishing without one pitying look,
one word or deed of sympathy.
Men are guilty of robbery
toward God. Their selfish use of means robs the Lord of the glory that should be reflected
back to Him in the relief of suffering humanity and the salvation of souls. They are
entrusted goods. The Lord declares, "I will come near to you to
judgment; and I will be a swift witness against . . . those that oppress the hireling in
his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his
right." "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we
robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed Me,
even this whole nation." Mal. 3:5, 8, 9. "Go to now, ye rich men, . . . your
riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered,
and the rust of them shall be a witness against you. . . . Ye have heaped treasure
together for the last days." "Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been
wanton." "Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields,
which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are
entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth." James 5:1-3, 5, 4.
Everyone will be required to
render up his entrusted gifts. In the day of final judgment men's hoarded wealth will be
worthless to them. They have nothing they can call their own.
Those who spend their lives
in laying up worldly treasure show less wisdom, less thought and care for their eternal
well-being, than did the unjust steward for his earthly support. Less wise than the
children of this world in their generation are these professed children of the light.
These are they of whom the prophet declared, in his vision of the great judgment day,
"A man shall cast the idols of his silver, and the idols of his gold [xxxmargin];
which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into
the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and
for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth." Isa.
"Make to yourselves
friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness," Christ says, "that when it
shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles." R.V. God and Christ
and angels are all ministering to the afflicted, the suffering, and the sinful. Give
yourself to God for this work, use His gifts for this purpose, and you enter into
partnership with heavenly beings. Your heart will throb in sympathy with theirs. You will
be assimilated to them in character. To you these dwellers in the eternal tabernacles will
not be strangers. When earthly things shall have passed away, the watchers at heaven's
gates will bid you welcome.
And the means used to bless
others will bring returns. Riches rightly employed will accomplish great good. Souls will
be won to Christ. He who follows Christ's plan of life will see in the courts of God those
for whom he has labored and sacrificed on earth. Gratefully will the ransomed ones
remember those who have been instrumental in their salvation. Precious will heaven be to
those who have been faithful in the work of saving souls.
The lesson of this parable is
for all. Everyone will be held responsible for the grace given him through Christ. Life is
too solemn to be absorbed in temporal or earthly matters. The Lord desires that we shall
communicate to others that which the eternal and unseen communicates to us.
Every year millions upon
millions of human souls are passing into eternity unwarned and unsaved. From hour to hour
in our varied life opportunities to reach and save souls are opened to us. These
opportunities are continually coming and going. God desires us to make the most of them.
Days, weeks, and months are passing; we have one day, one week, one month less in which to
do our work. A few more years at the longest, and the voice which we
cannot refuse to
answer will be heard saying, "Give an account of thy stewardship."
Christ calls upon every one
to consider. Make an honest reckoning. Put into one scale Jesus, which means eternal
treasure, life, truth, heaven, and the joy of Christ in souls redeemed; put into the other
every attraction the world can offer. Into one scale put the loss of your own soul, and
the souls of those whom you might have been instrumental in saving; into the other, for
yourself and for them, a life that measures with the life of God. Weigh for time and for
eternity. While you are thus engaged, Christ speaks: "What shall it profit a man, if
he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36.
God desires us to choose the
heavenly in place of the earthly. He opens before us the possibilities of a heavenly
investment. He would give encouragement to our loftiest aims, security to our choicest
treasure. He declares, "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man
than the golden wedge of Ophir." Isa. 13:12. When the riches that moth devours and
rust corrupts shall be swept away, Christ's followers can rejoice in their heavenly
treasure, the riches that are imperishable.
Better than all the
friendship of the world is the friendship of Christ's redeemed. Better than a title to the
noblest palace on earth is a title to the mansions our Lord has gone to prepare. And
better than all the words of earthly praise will be the Saviour's words to His faithful
servants, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from
the foundation of the world." Matt. 25:34.
To those who have squandered
His goods, Christ still gives opportunity to secure lasting riches. He says, "Give,
and it shall be given unto you." "Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a
treasure in the heavens that faileth
not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth
corrupteth." Luke 6:38; 12:33. "Charge them that are rich in this world, . . .
that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to
communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come,
that they may lay hold on eternal life." 1 Tim. 6:17-19.
Then let your property go
beforehand to heaven. Lay up your treasures beside the throne of God. Make sure your title
to the unsearchable riches of Christ. "Make to yourselves friends by means of the
mammon of unrighteousness, that when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal