“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.” (Luke 16:8)
This parable of the unjust steward has perplexed many Christians, for it seems to indicate that the Lord approved of dishonesty. “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (v. 9) also seems to contradict verse 13, when He said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
The apparent contradiction vanishes, however, when we realize Christ was not commending the dishonesty of the steward, but his acute business sense and concern for the future. Neither does the Lord approve of greed or covetousness, but He does exhort believers to be as prudent in investing their money for the eternal future as shrewd worldlings are in feathering their earthly nests. Sad to say, it is common experience that, by this measure, “the children of this world” do conduct their affairs “in this generation” far more shrewdly than “the children of light.” Even more sadly, the latter often even try to follow the example of the ungodly in “laying up for themselves treasures upon earth,” rather than “treasures in heaven” (see Matthew 6:19-20).
The Lord would exhort us, on the other hand, to use our money (“the mammon of unrighteousness”) to make true friends, “that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9). The “unjust steward” was trying to insure his own earthly future, hoping to make temporal friends by bribing them with money that was not even his own.
How much wiser it is for us to use whatever money the Lord has entrusted to us to make true friends, helping to bring them to Christ and building them up in the faith. Then, when we “fail” from this life, we shall enjoy their fellowship and gratitude in the “everlasting habitations” of eternity. HMM