Luke 16:9 – Use Wealth to Gain Friends

I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Luke 16:9-10

Misinterpretation

When we read the above verse without synchronizing our minds with the mind of Jesus, we start encouraging believers to earn money by whatever means (even unrighteous ways) to cater to the needs of the Church and its projects. While some think that the church is surviving because of their generous funding out of their own pockets. These believers are still lingering on worldly things and they choose people who have the same school of thought as their leaders.

For people who are struggling to come out of the lust of their flesh and pride of this world, verse 10 seems like a relaxation so that they may reach the higher level, by doing some good deed but continue with their sinful living. Their core understanding of this verse is that no one can survive in this world without committing evil and so they do a little good deed along with their evil deeds. They think that shrewdness is the way to extend their jurisdiction of power and authority. Unfortunately, some leaders encourage their misconception to maintain the Sunday attendance.

Background

Love for money is the root cause for all kinds of evil. In the ancient days, man exchanged goods and services in return for his own needs. In due time, man invented money to replace the barter system. Thereafter, money became a medium of transaction to purchase the provisions of God in the name of commodities.

God did not create money but man invented it to spend on the commodities he wanted. Jesus too brings forth this truth by taking a coin and asking “whose likeness and inscription is this?” On the contrary, man began treating money itself as a commodity and hoards it. Man has developed an attitude to avail everything he needed without spending money but by manipulating the authority given to him. The love for money does not allow man to spend it for its intended purpose.

The Shrewd Manager, who worked for a rich man, used his authority to waste his master’s goods. As a result he was on the verge of losing his job. He never bothered about others but once he knew that he was going to lose his job, he wanted to gain favour in the eyes of others. He realised that once he lost his job, he could neither labour nor beg so he wanted someone to help him. He went about this by cooking the books and reducing the liabilities owed by the borrowers to his master. As a result, people paid back the new reduced loan amount and the rich man received partial payments.

The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly…

Luke 16:8

Either the rich man was extremely happy and that is why he appreciated his manager for his good job or he knew how shrewdly the manager gained friends for himself at the expense of his master’s wealth. An appreciation for dishonesty always disturbs God’s people who walk in the truth. Even the Psalmist questioned God for this alleged injustice –

“Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them.
And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning.”

Psalm 73:7-14

Jesus also ranks the shrewdness of the people of this world higher than His children. But what is He trying to convey through His statement? Is He scolding His children for not being shrewd? Or is He encouraging them to act like the people of this world and make friends in high places?

Interpretation

In most of the parables, Jesus inserts Himself as the good character, while the evil one plays a wicked role, who manipulates His believers. Unlike those parables, both the main characters and the people portrayed in this parable are all worldly characters. If we understand why Jesus is placing Himself outside this parable, then it will be easier for us to absorb the truth He brings out through this parable.

Jesus tells this parable to warn us about our earthly life. Do we realize that when this life ends, neither our wealth nor our deeds are going to help us enter into eternity? Are we longing for someone to receive us into our Lord’s Kingdom? If Jesus is telling us that we should earn friends by means of unrighteous wealth so that someone may receive us in heaven, then who else do we think is going to receive us in eternity other than Jesus? Does Jesus need this unrighteous wealth from us to pay for our entry fee?

“Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.”

Proverbs 16:8

Jesus is neither asking us to earn in an unrighteous way nor does He demand anything from us as an entry fee.

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Psalm 50:12-15

Jesus promises a dwelling place for all who believe Him.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:2-3

Jesus is our only friend who is eligible to invite us into His Kingdom. He is offering us to earn his friendship by shifting our priorities from the focus of worldly wealth to the values of His teachings, so that He will receive us when we lose this earthly life.

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

John 15:15

To earn earthly friends, we have to acquire unrighteous wealth but to earn Jesus we have to forego unrighteous wealth. By giving away his unrighteous earnings, Zacchaeus, the tax collector was able to give away his unrighteous earnings as soon as he met Jesus.

Application

We are created in His image and we belong to Him. Apart from creating us in His image, Christ has also bought us with His precious blood when we were slaves to sin.

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”…

Matthew 22:21

Using our money to earn friends for getting a warm welcome in our eternal dwellings‘ in Jesus’ perspective, is about our preparedness to forego everything we posses, for the sake of fulfilling the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Matthew 19:21

When Jesus said “Whoever can be trusted with very little”, it does not mean that we have a relaxation to reach the higher level with our few good deeds while continuing to do evil but it does mean that in whatever state we are, we have to live a perfect and truthful life for God. Most of the time we expect God to bless us first so that we may be faithful to Him. God asks us to trust Him first so that He will lift us high.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

1 Peter 5:6

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