April 23, 2017

Make Friends for Yourselves
The Parable of the Unrighteous Manager

Luke 16:1-9 (NASB)

Now He was also saying to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and this manager was reported to him as squandering his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’ And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He *said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Remember that parables are stories or fables that parallel real life. We don’t build our doctrine upon parables, but we do find that the parables of our Lord are like windows that shine light onto His truth. This parable of the unjust steward causes confusion and consternation among Christian commentators.

  1. It seems (and rightly so) that the “unjust steward” failed in his responsibilities to his master.
  2. It seems (and rightly so) that when the unjust steward stands before his master, he’s commended.
  3. It seems (and rightly so) that the commendation is for “making friends” with his master’s money.
  4. It seems (and rightly so) that Jesus tells His disciples to learn from the wisdom of this world.
  1. Everyone who thinks himself faithful and obedient to God is, in reality, an unjust manager.
    This unjust steward represents all men and women. God is the Master, we are simply stewards.
    1. It’s no accident this parable comes after the parable of the elder brother.
      The elder brother was proud of his service to his father and thought himself worthy of blessing. The Pharisees and Sadducees who listened to Jesus tell His parables all felt themselves superior.
    2. There comes a time in all our lives when we feel deeply our failure as God’s stewards.
      This manager was reported … as squandering the master’s possessions” (v. 1). Remember when Charles Spurgeon was told that people were spreading all kinds of nasty rumors and lies about him. His friends asked, “Mr. Spurgeon, what should we do about this?” Spurgeon replied: “Leave the gossips alone. What they are saying is lies, but if people knew the real truth about me, it would be worse than the rumors.” That deep sense of one’s own failures is profound.
    3. A gospel church is a place where the obedience of Christ is honored more than our own.
      Someone asked what I thought about the men’s movement “Promise Keepers.” I said, “I would be more apt to join if the name of the movement was “The Promise Keeper” referring to Jesus Christ.
  2. When our failed stewardship ends (death), we will stand before the Master and be commended.
    This is the Good News. This is the gospel. It’s about having a Master who loves sinners who fail. The gospel is about finding a righteousness that is outside of yourself, one that is found in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. “God sees no sin in His people,” writes John Gill. Do you comprehend that? “And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he acted shrewdly while a steward” (v.8).
  3. My Master is at peace with me, so His only concern is that I love people like He loves me.
    What did this guilty, failed manager of the master’s money do to earn the praise of the master? He forsook all trust in himself (v. 3). He focused on the future (v. 4). He forgave others’ debts (v. 5). The Old Covenant Law is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk. 10:27). Nobody lives the Law. After Jesus fulfilled the Law, and in love for us, died for us, He gave a New Commandment to “love others as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Nowhere are you called in the New Covenant to love God with all your heart. Why? He loves you.
  4. We ought to impact lives with the Lord’s money here so that people will welcome us in heaven.
    Jesus said, “Make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness so that when it fails, they (the friends you’ve made in this life) will receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Lk. 16:9). Matthew Henry said, “God withholds His grace from covetous people more than we are aware of.” We’re to use the wealth we have to make friends by showing them the unsearchable riches of Christ.

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.