Making Friends of the Mammon


"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations" (Luke 16:9).

In Jesus' parable of the unjust steward, the wise use of money to secure the future is the main point. A manager ("steward" via) of a rich man was called to account for wasting his lord's assets ("goods" sib). He was fired on the spot (v.2). This meant that over the next few days he would have to turn over all the business records of his lord's customers.

As the steward considered the consequences of being suddenly unemployed (v.3), he hit upon a shrewd plan that would help him secure food and lodging for the immediate future (v.4). He called all his master's clients together to drastically reduce their bills. The man who owed one hundred measures of oil (800 gallons), had his bill cut in half to fifty (v.6). The man who owed a hundred measures of wheat (1,000 bushels) went down to 80 (v.7).

When the master of the business heard what the unjust steward had done, he commended his foresight in making friends through easing the financial burden of these people (v.8). From a moral point of view, it was wrong. But as an act of self-protection, he showed a shrewd understanding of human nature. He knew that his kindness would be returned. After all, one good turn deserves another.

Jesus knew that using money entrusted by God would also benefit His stewards in far better and lasting ways. But God's stewards are usually less perceptive. "...for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (8b). The unjust steward was highly motivated by the fear of poverty, which made him creative in a crisis.

In contrast, God's stewards seem hardly motivated at all by the future! In verse 9, Jesus doves home his point. Someday, we all will "fail." This is not a moral failure, but a physical one. Whether a little over time or a lot at once, our health will eventually fail and we will die. But if we have invested our money in the Lord's work, especially the gospel, then we will be welcomed into heaven by those we have reached for Christ. What a "welcome wagon" that will be! Of course, you will thank your Savior, for making eternal friends with your money was the way of the Master!