Read Luke 16:1-13. Yeah, it’s a confusing passage. Let me recap: A wasteful manager was fired the man he worked for. The man then realizes that he’s in trouble because he is to weak to do manual labor and too ashamed to beg. So he calls in a couple of people who owe his recent boss a large debt and he tells them to change the records on how much they owe. His boss then commends him for acting shrewdly. Yeah, not the reaction I would have had, but the result is that these guys whose debt he reduced will now welcome him into their homes and he will have a place to live.
We get this verse: “The master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted astutely. For the sons of this age are more astute than the sons of light in dealing with their own people. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous money so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.” What on earth does that mean?
When I think about greed I often times think of a man sitting in a high rise office in Manhattan in a three piece suit, smoking a cigar and cheating people out of their hard earned money. And when I think of someone who isn’t greedy? I think of someone working hard to make ends meet. I mean, that’s right isn’t it? Rich people are greedy and poor people aren’t.
But that’s not true and we know it. Jesus tells us exactly what he means by this parable in verse 13: “You can’t be slaves to both God and money.” The astute manager in the parable uses money to create security for himself. He uses money as a means. Greedy people don’t use their money as a means to an end, they want the money for the security it represents. So greedy people go about their lives trying to make sure that their money is always there and growing. We all can be like this. I am like this. I will worry about my wife spending money on our kids clothes…at Goodwill where she can fill their closets for less than one outfit from Oshkosh. I know it’s unreasonable, but fear takes over and I become a slave of money.
The wise use of money is to only use it as a means to reach an end. But what end? This is where that confusing phrase “eternal dwellings” becomes important. And I could try to explain it to you, but here is the gist from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:
“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!
“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
So we see in the Sermon on the Mount, the only purpose of money for believers is to further the kingdom, in particular relationships.