Read: Luke 16:1-10
Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth. (v. 9)
I pay special attention to every sermon I hear on this text, and without fail the pastor inevitably says, “It’s hard to say exactly what this parable is about.” Challenges arise because on the surface it appears that Jesus is praising dishonesty.
But if we begin with the presupposition that Jesus would not do that, we are left to wonder just what Jesus meant and what sort of “shrewdness” Jesus was praising the manager in this story for. I believe the key to this passage is plainly stated in verse 9: “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous [other translations use the word worldly] wealth.”
The question animating this parable is “what is money for?” It has no eternal value, after all. They don’t put luggage racks on hearses and no one pulls a U-Haul to a graveyard. Money is a temporal object, of use only in this world, and according to Jesus it is a tainted object as well. Shrewdness, exhibited by those with “street smarts” like the manager in the parable, comes from understanding how to use money wisely. The wise use of money isn’t in investing it to make more; it’s in investing it to make friends. That makes sense, because right relationships are vastly more important to God than money. Think of how many marriages and business partnerships are ruined over money.
When we use money for building relationships between ourselves and others (and God), we are on a kingdom path. —Jeff Munroe
As you pray, ask God to guide you in building good relationships.
About the Author
Jeff Munroe is the editor of the Reformed Journal and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.