The parable in Luke 16:1-13 says:
He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
“Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have 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 master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So 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?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
We see here that this steward was petrified when his master found out that he was not doing his job well. He was lazy and not very good at managing his master’s accounts. He didn’t care about collecting bills for the master and he was losing money hand over fist for him, but when he was about to lose his job, he said to himself, “I can’t go and dig roads. I can’t do manual labor. Hard labor will kill me and I am too ashamed to beg.”
Someone who is jobless doesn’t have a sense of security. In those days, if you couldn’t do the hard manual labor required on farms, things were tough for you. This steward may have been overweight and unfit. If that was the case, then he would find manual labor difficult and he would have to beg, and begging takes great humility. Therefore this steward devised another option: he put a plan in action to secure his future!
We read in verses 4 to 8 what he did. He basically went to all the people who owed his master money. He gave them big discounts on their bills and collected all of the money. He knew he was ripping his master off and eventually he would be fired, so he had set himself up to look good in the eyes of the master’s debtors. He figured that those whom he given discounts to would give him work when he lost his present job. He was thinking that when he became poor and had no food, he would need a job: any of those to whom he gave hefty discounts to, would be merciful to him by giving him food and lodging.
This man was both lazy and shrewd. He had been living off his master’s income and had been dishonest in administering his master’s funds. Like some of the government workers who waste the people’s money, this manager was just a waste of space. He was self focused and lacked integrity: he didn’t care about his master’s business at all, but was out to just save himself from calamity.
When he realized that he couldn’t bring himself to dig ditches, to beg and also lacked the humility to appear desperate: he knew he was in a bad position. Therefore, he became cunning and “wise” with money. When he gave huge discounts to the people who owed his master money, they jumped at the opportunity of a discount. Who wouldn’t?
At that time, he was still in the employ of the master, so his statement of account that the bills had been settled was legal tender. The master couldn’t come back and say, “My steward was unfaithful. Pay me the rest.” It was legal because the manager was still exercising authority on behalf of his master. The manager wanted to build up friendship with the debtors in the hope that one of them had an easy job for him in the future. He was building up future protection for himself.
Verse 9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.”
Jesus said here that money can be used for an eternal home. He was taking the example of this unjust steward to be applied to His Kingdom. He hinted at using the money of the unrighteous mammon on earth to build up a foundation and a security in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Paul talks to Timothy about a similar thing in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 - “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
This was the Apostle Paul speaking to Timothy under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is a message for all of us too. Paul was referring to rich people. If you are in the West, even if you are on a social security pension, you are richer than ninety percent of the people in the world. Paul was saying, “Do not be proud. Do not be haughty nor trust in your wealth or in your job, but trust in God and share your money.”
Verse 18 suggests that we should be ready to give and be willing to share our resources all the time. By doing so, we will store up for ourselves a good foundation for the time to come. This is how money should be treated in the Kingdom of God: Christians should be willing to share, give, and do good works.
Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”
Jesus was saying here that money is the least thing in the world. There are a lot harder things in the Christian faith than tithing and giving money to other deserving things. If you have a problem with tithing, Jesus was saying that tithing is the least and easiest thing to do. There are lot harder things, like dealing with persecution and bearing with someone who is really hard to deal with or forgiving someone who has maligned your name or attacked you. In the Kingdom of God, there are many more difficult things to deal with than giving or tithing. Jesus was saying that one of the easiest things to do is to give. You have to allow God to change your tight-fisted attitude to bring it in line with His kingdom purposes. Jesus said, “Use your money wisely and give.”
Therefore, if you have not been faithful in money—in unrighteous mammon— it says who will commit to you the trust of true riches? Jesus says, “I cannot trust people with other treasures, if they cannot be trusted with their money.”
Verses 12 and 13 continue: And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
This man used his master’s money to serve himself and build up riches for his own benefit. If we use all our money on ourselves with no thought of others or God, we have the potential to become just like this unjust steward. We need to see ourselves in this parable. Jesus wants us to realize money is important in this world and it has been given to us for a good reason. We should administer our money correctly; and our Master, Jesus, should receive His share.
To sum this up, God is saying that you have to choose who you serve. Money is the least. You need to get over the love of money and start giving your money to God and trust Him. God gives us tests, not for Him to see what we are made up of, but for us to see what we are made up of. Bear in mind: if you are not trusting God in the least of things, how can He bless you in the most blessed things that will count for all eternity.
I don’t mean to be on your case, but this is what God is saying here: money should be the least of your concerns. If you are generous with your wealth and give with open arms to the Lord, then the Lord is your Master. If you are not generous in sharing with God’s Kingdom, then money is your master. This parable is as simple as that to understand.
What people don’t realize is that when you see all your money as belonging to God: He knows this and financially honors us. He is then free to multiply our resources, just like He did with the feeding of the huge crowd with a small boy’s lunch. Similarly, we don’t understand how a small seed grows but God does. God delights to be able to create! When our money belongs to Him, He does far more with it than any budget we can devise. I know this from personal experience and millions of other Christians would be able to confirm this truth. It’s amazing! God’s book-keeping skills are supernatural.
It is not my intention to fill you with condemnation and guilt. The opposite is true: I want to build your faith in God. It takes great soul searching and faith to start giving, especially when you have a small income like mine, but the joy of doing it far outweighs the pain, I can assure you. As you discover God’s faithfulness to you in financial matters, it increases your faith that He will also come through for you in other far more important matters, such as saving your loved ones.