What the Gospel of “the unjust steward” says is also an image of this matter. He says to the debtor [of one hundred measures of wheat], “Take your bill, sit down, and write eighty,” and the other things that are related. You see that he said to each man, “Take your bill.” It is evident from this that the documents of sin are ours, but God writes documents of justice.1
Why did the Lord Jesus Christ present this parable to us? He surely did not approve of that cheat of a servant who cheated his master, stole from him and did not make it up from his own pocket. On top of that, he also did some extra pilfering. He caused his master further loss, in order to prepare a little nest of quiet and security for himself after he lost his job. Why did the Lord set this before us? It is not because that servant cheated but because he exercised foresight for the future. When even a cheat is praised for his ingenuity, Christians who make no such provision blush. I mean, this is what he added, “Behold, the children of this age are more prudent than the children of light.” They perpetrate frauds in order to secure their future. In what life, after all, did that steward insure himself like that? What one was he going to quit when he bowed to his master’s decision? He was insuring himself for a life that was going to end. Would you not insure yourself for eternal life?2
EPHREM THE SYRIAN:
O children of Adam, buy for yourselves those things that do not pass away, by means of those temporary things that are not yours!3
Mammon is the Hebrew word for “riches,” just as in Punic the word for “profit” is mammon. What are we to do? What did the Lord command? “Make yourselves friends with the mammon of iniquity, so that they too, when you begin to fail, may receive you into eternal shelters.” It is easy, of course, to understand that we must give alms and a helping hand to the needy, because Christ receives it in them.… We can understand that we have to give alms and that we must not really pick and choose to whom we give them, because we are unable to sift through people’s hearts. When you give alms to all different types of people, then you will reach a few who deserve them. You are hospitable, and you keep your house ready for strangers. Let in the unworthy, in case the worthy might be excluded. You cannot be a judge and sifter of hearts.4
What excuse will we have if we heedlessly lock our money behind doors and barricades, and we prefer to leave it lying idle? Instead, we should make it available to the needy now, so that in the future we may count on support from them.5
- HOMILIES ON GENESIS 13.4. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 254). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 359A.10. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON TATIAN’S DIATESSARON 14.21. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 359A.11–12. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILIES ON GENESIS 3.21. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 256). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.