The Unjust Steward
And He said also to His disciples, There was a certain rich man, who had a steward, and this man was accused to him that he was wasting his belongings. And he called him and said to him, “What is this that I hear of thee? Render an account of thy stewardship, for thou canst not be steward any longer.”
And the steward said in himself, “What shall I do? For my lord takes away from me the stewardship; I do not have the strength to dig; to beg I am ashamed. I know what I will do, that when I am removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.”
So he called for every one of his lord’s debtors, and said to the first, “How much dost thou owe to my lord?” And he said, “A hundred baths9 of oil.” And he said to him, “Take thy bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.” Afterwards he said to another, “And how much dost thou owe?” And he said, “A hundred cors10 of wheat.” And he said to him, “Take thy bill, and write eighty.”
And the lord praised the unjust steward because he had done prudently; for the sons of this age are in their generation more prudent, above the sons of light. And I say to you, Make friends for yourselves of the mammon11 of injustice, that when you fail, they may receive you into eternal tabernacles.
He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unjust mammon, who shall entrust you with the true? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who shall give you that which is yours? No house-servant can serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
The sons of this age are more prudent than the sons of light.
AE 763:2. Sensual men have the ability to think, speak, and act craftily, because all evil has its seat in man’s sensual, and in it cunning is as predominant as intelligence is in the spiritual man. This has been made evident to me by the cunning of the infernals, which is such and so great that it cannot be described; and in the hells all are sensual. This is the meaning of the Lord’s words.... Make friends of the mammon of injustice.
DP 250:5. By the mammon of injustice are meant the rational conceptions of truth and good possessed by the wicked, which they employ solely to acquire for themselves dignities and wealth. It is these knowledges of which the good or the sons of light are to make themselves friends, and which shall receive them into everlasting habitations.
No house-servant can serve two lords.
TCR 437. At the present day it is believed that charity is simply doing good, and that then one does not do evil; consequently, that the first of charity is to do good, and the second not to do evil. But it is wholly the reverse. The first of charity is to put away evil, and the second to do good. For it is a universal law in the spiritual world and from that in the natural world also, that so far as one does not will evil he wills good. Thus so far as he turns away from hell, from which all evil ascends, so far he turns towards heaven, from which all good descends. Consequently also, so far as anyone rejects the devil, he is accepted by the Lord. One cannot stand with his head vibrating between the two and pray to both at once.
9 A Hebrew liquid measure (AC 2252:5), 8 or 9 gallons each
10 A Hebrew dry measure, 10 or 12 bushels each
11 Wealth personified
Questions and Comments
- We are stewards of talents, knowledge, energy, etc. that belong to our Master. We tend to attribute these good things to ourselves. “The Lord joins Himself to people by means of appearances. For the appearance is that it is from himself that a person loves the neighbor, does good and speaks the truth; and except for this appearance a person would not love the neighbor, do good, and speak truth, thus would not be joined with the Lord” (DP 219:5).
- It seems the steward gave away his commission to reduce the debts of his master’s debtors. Perhaps this represents acknowledging that none of our gifts are our own, but the Lord’s with us. Meanwhile the sense that these gifts are our own is a stepping-stone on the way to heaven, a mediate good.
- What might be an example of the spiritual mammon of injustice, i.e., rational conceptions of truth and good possessed by the wicked? (DP 250)
- What might be an example of acting on the thought that charity is simply doing good, versus acting on the teaching that the first of charity is to put away evil? Think of a friendship, or a job situation, or a marriage, or parenting....
- How might believing that charity is simply doing good without bothering to get rid of evil be a way of serving the wrong lord?