Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 26: "Friends by the Mammon of Unrighteousness"
Based on Luke 16:1-9
God never meant that one man should have an abundance of
the luxuries of life, while the children of others should cry for bread.
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 being [p. 367] 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 steward."
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 write
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
"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." [p. 368]
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 [p. 369] revived with distinctness, and through the disciples they
were brought vividly before the new converts who were
added to the church.
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 [p. 370] 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
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 free," [p. 371] "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
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 embezzling His [p. 372] 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,
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 [margin]; 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. 2:20, 21. [p. 373]
"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
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 [p. 374] 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.
Find out more today how to purchase a
copy of this enlightening book about the parables of Christ.
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.
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 [p. 375] 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.
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 tabernacles." R.V.
Click here to read the next chapter:
"Who is My Neighbour?"