Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

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Ms 4, 1900

The Unjust Steward

NP

January 2, 1900 [typed]

Previously unpublished.

In His parable of the unjust steward, Christ teaches us that we cannot tamper with dishonest practices without advancing in evil. The scribes and Pharisees were selfish and avaricious, and served mammon instead of making mammon serve the interests of God’s kingdom in the earth. Had the Jewish nation seen where their course of impenitence and pride and covetousness was leading them, they would have changed. Their riches, obtained by robbery and unjust deal, could bring them no lasting gain. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 1

“There was a certain rich man,” Christ said, “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, 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. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 2

“And he said to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 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. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. 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. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” [Luke 16:1-12.] 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 3

Christ does not commend the unjust steward for his dishonesty. He commends those who do not live for their own selfish interests. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 4

We can learn a lesson from this parable. When men find themselves in financial embarrassment, they set to work to save themselves from utter ruin. But those who are in peril of being put out of their stewardship by God, do not realize their danger. Could they see their danger, they would change the order of things. A selfish grasping of riches, and a selfish use of them, proves one unfaithful to his trust and disqualifies him for higher trusts. If he is unfaithful in the little things, he will be unfaithful in larger matters. We are all on trial to prove whether worldly ambition, greed, or selfish grasping of every advantage for ourselves alone will characterize our lives. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 5

Unrighteous mammon. What an immense stock of this there is in trade today. In bank stock and in buildings, wealth is laid up by fraudulent means, by cunning and deceit. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 6

If you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? This question should open the eyes of the greedy, grasping moneymaker. Your palaces, your expensive gardens and luxuries are squandered means, means that did not belong to you. The money on which you trade is borrowed. If it is obtained in strictest honesty, and invested as God’s means, it is being used to represent God’s character, His love, His tender mercy for all His works. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 7

When [he] is entrusted with a large responsibility, when he is commissioned to represent the compassionate, beneficent spirit which Christ revealed to the world, the wealthy man can be a representative of Christ in good works. Between true Christians no barrier of rank or wealth will be built up. “All ye are brethren,” Christ declared. [Matthew 23:8.] The same God and Father is over us all, and we are to treat all, believers and unbelievers, with tender respect, that they may take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. We must work the works of Christ, having a special regard for the poor and sorrowing, and bestowing upon them substantial benefits. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 8

Writing to Timothy, Paul says, “If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strifes, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself.” [1 Timothy 6:3-5.] 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 9

This whole chapter should be regarded as a warning, and it is in perfect accord with the parable of the unjust steward. Paul’s lesson to Timothy is that men may be so deceived as to suppose that their gain is godliness, that their wealth is an evidence of their favor with God. “They that will be rich,” he says, “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 10

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, whereunto thou art also called. ... Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth all things richly to enjoy. 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.” [Verses 9-12, 17-19.] 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 11

God has a settlement to make with every man to whom He has entrusted His goods. Those who have riches can so use them as to bring in a revenue, not to be hoarded, but to be used in blessing suffering humanity. In this work the liberality of God will be revealed. The Lord does not desire that those who claim to be His followers shall seek to be always adding to their wealth, for this will add to their popularity with the world, and will lead them to estimate themselves as men of worth. A man’s riches can do him no good unless he acts out the benevolence and kindness and love of God. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 12

Read the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Do we believe the Word of God? If so, let us overcome our selfishness and covetousness which is idolatry. We are to be representatives of the character of Christ. Then glory will flow back to God in the praise and thanksgiving of those who have been helped by our Christlike unselfish lives. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 13

The whole course of God’s providence proclaims His benevolence and His just and holy character. The psalmist declares, “The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all them that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” [Psalm 145:14-16.] 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 14

When Christ was accused by the Jews of eating with publicans and sinners, by the parable of the lost sheep He taught them that those who thus labor for the salvation of souls bring joy and gladness to heavenly beings. “What man of you,” He said, “having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which I had lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.” [Luke 15:4-7.] 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 15

Ye are laborers together with God. The requirement of God’s Word is that we be like Christ, that we bear His image, imitate His example, and live His life. The master Worker is with us, and we must look to Him and trust in Him. Without Him we cannot advance one step. If we follow in His footsteps, and are imbued with His spirit, we shall achieve a wonderful work. 15LtMs, Ms 4, 1900, par. 16