"And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward 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 four-score. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely; for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? 

"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things; and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts, for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." 

 "There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs, which fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom; the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us, and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they, which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 

And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." 


BOTH  parables given in the above lesson relate to the use and value of property. The first shows how we may use worldly wealth so as to secure eternal good. The second teaches that with abundance of riches, without God's acceptance, a man will be lost forever; while he may be in utter destitution in this world, and if true to God, have eternal life in the world to come. Hence it is better to be poor with the favor of God, than rich without it. In the first parable (verses 1-7) the unfaithful steward found he was about to be deprived of his position and salary.

As he still had legal control of the property, he shrewdly used this power to provide himself with future support. The owner, though unjustly treated, admired his sagacity. Christ then draws most important lessons from the parable. Worldlings show more wisdom in the use of means for temporal objects, than Christians do to secure eternal good. In verse 9, he instructs us that it is our privilege and duty to make our property a means by which we may secure future and everlasting life. Verses 10 and 11 teach us that God places worldly wealth in our hands as a test, that we may show whether we are faithful or unfaithful, as a man who thinks to give his son a great fortune, first places in his hands a small sum to see what use he will make of it. If he should put the small sum to a bad use, he would not dare to intrust him with a far greater sum. So God places worldly good in our hands. If we use it for high and noble purposes, he will give us eternal riches, but if for low and selfish objects, he will not intrust us with the life to come. Verse 12 proves that earthly means are not ours. We are but stewards of the Lord, and must give account to him. If we use his means faithfully and please him, he will freely give us a rich and noble portion to be our own eternally. How dare men to use and abuse God's means as they do? 

Verses 19-31, contain the parable of the rich and the poor man. In verse 14, it is stated that the covetous Pharisees derided Christ because of his cutting words relative to unjust gain. They believed if men were rich in this world, that it was an evidence of God's special favor, and vice versa; hence the rich would have God's favor in the world to come because he gave them such tokens of it here. They also believed that he had little regard for the poor. In this parable he draws the greatest possible contrast between the rich and the poor. Lazarus, a beggar in the deepest affliction, with no friend, but the dumb brute; the rich man rolling in wealth, with all that heart could wish. Wholly selfish, he had no regard for the poor beggar at his gate. Probation closes, and the scene changes. Are the views of these covetous Pharisees correct concerning the future state? Is the rich man still to be the favored one? Ah, no! He must go into the torments of the damned, while the poor sufferer goes to a place of bliss. He had been true to God in the deepest affliction. The rich man had been unfaithful in the use of the means entrusted to him. Worldly wealth can save none of us, unless used for noble objects. Verse 25 teaches the solemn truth that riches used for selfish purposes, only add to our anguish in the day of wrath. This parable should greatly encourage the Christian, struggling with poverty, and alarm the rich sinner. Many pervert this parable, and try to sustain from it the false doctrine of consciousness in death. We may draw important moral lessons from parables, but they are not designed to teach religious doctrines. These must be sustained by plain, clear statements, in order to be a proper foundation for our faith. Figurative language is hardly sufficient, unless explained by inspired testimony. The dead are unconscious. They sleep in the grave till the resurrection. 

Job. 14; Psa. 146:3,4; Eccl. 9:3-10; Isa. 38:9-19; 1 Cor.15. This parable of the rich man and beggar does not contradict these plain scriptures, and many others of similar import. How, then, is the rich man represented as speaking and suffering. On the well-known principle of many other parables which attribute power of speech even to inanimate objects, to teach moral lessons. 

Gen. 4:10; Judges 9:7-15; Hab. 2:11; Isa. 14:4-17; Eze. 32:17-31. The rich man was buried. 

In Hades he lifted up his eyes. This is the grave, not the place of torment. The torment will be real finally, when he shall again be made conscious in the second resurrection. The parable will be substantially true. But it would be folly to make out of this a literal history. How could a spirit without body or parts, if such a thing there be, have a tongue to be cooled with literal water? Could heaven and hell be within speaking distance, and friends talk back and forth, one pleading with the other for help? How could heaven then be a happy place? This is a parable, and simply teaches the great moral lesson above stated, showing the worthlessness of riches without virtue; the certainty of punishment for a life of selfishness, however rich we may be; and the certainty of bliss to the truly good, however poor they may he. 

G. I. B.