Luke 16:9 NIV
I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
New King James
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.
I spoke on this passage this morning. It's a difficult passage, seemingly contradicting traditional, orthodox Christian teaching on many levels.
In this passage, Jesus is teaching with a parable of a rich master, who has a dishonest manager. The master hears about his manager, and gives him notice, with orders to produce an accounting of his work before he finishes. The manager uses this final part of his employement to fiddle with his master's accounts, allowing people who owe him money to alter the books, so that their debts are substantially reduced.
The master actually commends his manager for acting shrewdly, with Jesus stating that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than the children of the light.
Then Jesus states what sounds like, "use your money or wealth to get friends, so that when it's gone, they, or somebody, will welcome you into heaven."
1. Does Jesus really mean that we should be wasteful, or careless with our wealth?
2. Does Jesus imply that this sort of action leads to salvation?
3. Who are these people we should win, with our wealth, into friendship?
I found this a difficult passsage to speak on, but I believed that if I sought God on this passage he would help me understand.
On the first question regarding squandering our wealth, it was good to simply look back on the previous chapter in Luke. There we see a clear story of someone who wastes their wealth on wild living. The prodigal son. Yes, this waste does lead to suffering, and that suffering does lead to repentance, so you could argue that wasting wealth and possessions can actually lead to salvation.
But clearly this is not a positive part of the prodigal son story. And then if we simply read on one verse beyond Luke 16:9, we read Jesus warning us that if we are dishonest in small matters we will be likewise dishonest in large matters. Trust and integrity are clearly valued by Jesus. Therefore Jesus would not himself commend the manager for fiddling with the accounting.
Lets look at my third question.
Who are the "friends" that can welcome us into eternal dwellings"? Do random people we are generous towards aid us in receiving salvation and entering God's kingdom? Or is it people that we know, or have known, maybe loved ones who have gone before us?
Later in this chapter, the story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar explains how there is an uncrossable chasm between heaven and hell, and though the rich man only wants a drop of water on his tongue, Abraham is unable to send Lazarus to soothe him. And it is implied that the rich man could have aided Lazarus before both of them died, and maybe this would have changed the outcome. (see an earlier post about this passage)
But we clearly understand, from countless passages of scripture, that there is only one friend who can welcome us into heaven, and that is Jesus himself. No other person has atoned for our sin, died for the sin of the world, exchanged his righteousness for our unrighteousness. He is the only true unblemished lamb of God, who's blood speaks a better word than Abels.
And we also understand that this gift of forgiveness, faith and repentance, is unable to be earnt (addressing question 2), it is by grace we are saved, through faith. Not by works. But we gladly walk in the works that God has prepared in advance for us to do, and they may well include giving away vast sums of money for the work of God.
Jesus stated in John 14, that he goes ahead of us to prepare a place in his Father's house (with many rooms) for his disciples. Surely it is Jesus himself who will welcome us into our heavenly dwellings, and all of this because he himself has wasted all of his wealth, his health, his perfect obedience, his unswerving loyalty to God's good and holy will, on us!
So my restating of Luke16:9, is something like this:
Everything we have is from God, so let us "waste" everything he gives us on serving him, because, he wasted everything he had (his own dear Son) on us, so that he could welcome us into his wonderful heavenly home.
And as a small footnote, when we are making financial decisions, let us make them with reference only to God's will for our lives, not to the potential monetary returns we might receive, nor to avoid monetary losses. If we make our decisions with profit and loss as our main concern, we are then serving money. And Jesus says clearly in this passage, that we can only serve either God or money.
It is my opinion that God allows us to suffer financial loss, and other losses, as well as victories, in order to rely, respond and be grateful to Him.