Whereas the previous lesson focuses on God’s grace, this lesson emphasizes man’s responsibilities. Although the Pharisees were also present, Jesus spoke mainly to His disciples. The Lord taught them to make wise use of what they have been entrusted with. He warned those who love money the eternal consequences of abusing material possessions. With additional teachings on forgiveness and faith, He concluded His lesson by reminding them the correct attitude in carrying out His commands.
Did You Know...?
1. Millstone (17:2): A heavy stone rotated on a mill for crushing grain.
- The Shrewd Steward (16:1-13)
- Additional Teachings (16:14-18)
- The Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31)
- Sin, Faith, Duty (17:1-10)
Was Jesus commending the steward’s dishonesty?Hide Answer
Note that the steward’s dishonesty goes back to his mishandling of the master’s goods (1). The master could not condone the steward’s dishonesty, and that is why he dismissed him. Therefore, the master commended the unfaithful steward not because he was dishonest, but because he prudently prepared for the future by making friends for himself (8). In fact, reducing the debtors’ debt may not be a dishonest act because the amount forgiven was probably the steward’s own commission. [ref]
How are the sons of this world more shrewd than the sons of light?Hide Answer
The people of this world, whose minds are on material riches and selfish gain, tend to be better managers of wealth, i.e. in the secular sense. But the Lord is not commending the dishonest handling of wealth that often characterizes worldly shrewdness. Rather, He uses the shrewdness of the present age (“more shrewd in their generation”) as an analogy to teach believers about managing wealth wisely for the sake of eternity.
What does it mean to make friends by unrighteous mammon (9)?Hide Answer
We need to be good stewards of our God given possessions by investing them in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Instead of spending our wealth for our own enjoyment, we ought to use it for the Lord’s work and for helping the poor and needy.
What does it mean to be faithful in the least, in the unrighteous mammon, and in what is another man’s (10-12)?Hide Answer
All three things refer to material possessions. They are “the least” because their value is insignificant compared to the rewards we will receive in the future. They are “the unrighteous mammon” because they are often used for ungodly purpose. They are also “another man’s,” meaning that we do not own them but God has entrusted them to us. We must be faithful over our material possessions by using them wisely to accomplish the Lord’s will.
What does it mean to serve mammon?Hide Answer
Loving and serving mammon means laying up treasures on earth so as to “take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk 12:13 21 NIV). It means having our minds on earthly things and serving our fleshly desires (Phil 3:18,19).
Why is it not possible to serve both God and mammon?Hide Answer
Just as a slave can only serve one master, we can only serve either God or mammon. Either master demands total loyalty. It is not possible to love both because they are conflicting. The materialistic pursuits of this life that comes from our lusts are contrary to the spiritual growth that God has called us to (Gal 5:17). We cannot love one without giving up the other (Rom 8:5 8; Jas 4:2-5).
How are you using your possessions to serve God? How can you do better?
What does 15 teach you about having the right values?Hide Answer
Secular values are contrary to God’s standard.
What does it mean to press into God’s kingdom (16)?Hide Answer
Entering God’s kingdom involves great effort (Lk 13:24). The discussion on entering God’s kingdom is related to the contrast between human values and God’s will in verse 15. Those who “press into” God’s kingdom are those who make an effort to change their values to conform to the kingdom’s standard.
Why did Jesus emphasize the enduring effect of the law (17)?Hide Answer
The Lord’s teaching here continues the theme of differing values. Men may choose to abide by their secular values, reject God’s will for themselves (cf. Lk 7:30), and remain outside the kingdom of God. But only God’s law (spiritual values of God’s kingdom) will endure forever, and only those who are willing to change their values may enter the eternal kingdom.
According to the Lord Jesus, what two conditions constitute adultery (18)?Hide Answer
1. Divorcing and remarrying (cf. Mk 10:11-12; note the exception of divorcing on the grounds of sexual immorality in Mt 5:32; 19:9). 2. Marrying a woman who is divorced from her husband (cf. Mt 19:9).
How does the teaching in 18 reveal the error of the Pharisees?Hide Answer
Jesus cited the issue of divorce and remarriage as a specific example of the conflict between popular values and God’s law. Although divorce displeases God, the Pharisees considered it an acceptable practice (Mt 19:7-8). This example illustrates Jesus’ point that what men highly esteem is an abomination in the sight of God (15).
Why did the rich man end up in Hades?Hide Answer
See 25. The problem with the rich man wasn’t his wealth, but his love of money. Because he chose to serve mammon, he did not obey God’s command, for he indulged daily in luxury and failed to love his neighbor. He did not forsake all things by giving to God ownership of his possessions but instead misused what was entrusted to him for selfish purposes (cf. 14:33; 16:12).
What did you learn from this story about riches?Hide Answer
How we use our riches in this life will have eternal consequences. Those who love money like the Pharisees (14), indulge in pleasure like the rich man (19), and reject the law of God like the rich man’s brothers (28 31) will suffer in Hades.
What can we learn from 31 about man’s heart?Hide Answer
Even a great miracle cannot change a callous heart.
How will you live differently after studying this parable?
What kind of offense is Jesus referring to in 1-2? Why is such offense so serious?Hide Answer
The NIV renders “offenses” as “things that cause people to sin.” These refer to behaviors or speech that become others’ stumbling block in faith.
What are the two steps of dealing with someone who has sinned against you?Hide Answer
Rebuke and forgive (3).
What helps you to forgive those who sin against you?
What is the point of verse 6?Hide Answer
The apostles asked the Lord for greater faith because total forgiveness, as required by the Lord in verse 4, seemed to be an impossible task. But the Lord teaches how God can help us overcome hindrances in carrying out His will if we put our faith in Him (cf. Php 4:13).
According to 7-10, what attitude should we have in carrying out the Lord’s command?