christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

luke 16, the unjust steward and unrighteous mammon

Read Luke 16 at Bible Gateway.

This entire chapter forms its own chiastic structure (posted here), but today I discovered a smaller chiastic structure in the parable of the unjust steward:

Luk 16:1-13
1a) Luk 16:1-8a, The parable of the unjust steward;
1b) Luk 16:8b-9, The sons of this world are more shrewd in their use of unrighteous mammon;
central axis) Luk 16:10, He who is faithful + unjust in what is least is faithful + unjust also in much;
2b) Luk 16:11-12, If you have not been faithful in unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?;
2a) Luk 16:13, No servant can serve two masters: you cannot serve God and mammon.

Now it seems to me that ever since Luk 9 the Lord has been teaching on identifying the true disciples, or the mark or cost of true discipleship. There was a type of class warfare going on in His day and time. The Pharisees were seen as the keepers of the Law, the ones who were “in” with God. Their complaint about Jesus was that He received tax collectors and sinners and ate with them (Luk 15:1-2). But Jesus has been teaching who it is, who is really “in” with God – those who repent.

In the parable of the unjust steward, here we have someone who is in the Master’s employ, in a position of authority over everyone else. He has been given a charge to keep. But because the steward loved money more than he loved his Master, he did not keep his charge faithfully, and he was put out of the Master’s household.

The unrighteous mammon is what is least, the first test given to disciples, to test whether they will be faithful or not. How are we tested or asked to steward unrighteous mammon or money? I believe it is by being faithful in returning tithes and offerings to the Lord, and in obeying the commandments concerning stealing and coveting, which concerns material wealth.

What we have, belongs to Him. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. We are merely stewards of it. He has commanded that firstfruits and tithes be returned to Him. Now why? He has no need of it! No, but we have need of obeying Him in it, so that we may remain free of the love of money, and reveal our love for God over the course of our lives by our faithfulness.

Then also, above our firstfruits and tithes, He sends people into our lives to collect the fruit of His vineyard. This may take the form of giving when we hear of needs, above our firstfruits and tithes; saying “Yes” to that still, small nudge in our hearts that moves us to action by compassion. It may take the form of returning patience, gentleness, or self- control (fruit) instead of accusation, anger, or bitterness.

But God will not entrust to us true riches — which is NOT material wealth — until we have shown ourselves faithful in false riches, or unrighteous mammon.


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