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Whatcha Do with Somebody Else’s Money?

Make Heavenly Friends

Luke 16:1–9 (CSB)

16 Now he said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who received an accusation that his manager was squandering his possessions. So he called the manager in and asked, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you can no longer be my manager.’

“Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do since my master is taking the management away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig; I’m ashamed to beg. I know what I’ll do so that when I’m removed from management, people will welcome me into their homes.’

“So he summoned each one of his master’s debtors. ‘How much do you owe my master?’ he asked the first one.

“ ‘A hundred measures of olive oil,’ he said.

“ ‘Take your invoice,’ he told him, ‘sit down quickly, and write fifty.’

“Next he asked another, ‘How much do you owe?’

“ ‘A hundred measures of wheat,’ he said.

“ ‘Take your invoice,’ he told him, ‘and write eighty.’

“The master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the children of this age are more shrewd than the children of light in dealing with their own people. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of worldly wealth, so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.

Dear fellow redeemed: This section is in a part of Luke in which Jesus is talking about God’s mercy, with the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son. From that last parable, Jesus goes into this story about the shrewd manager. From there concludes with some interesting instruction:

USE YOUR MONEY TO MAKE FRIENDS IN HEAVEN

  1. The Basic Ideas
  2. The Story
  3. Now Go and Make Friends
  1. The Basic Ideas

Now the manager is like you, he was in charge of his master’s possessions and could do with them whatever he wanted, although if honest, he would manage them faithfully. Whatever we seem to possess is not really ours, we are just in charge of it for the Lord. We use the Lord’s property, including our minds, our talents, our time, our possessions, our money and our very selves for many different purposes. “Our stuff” definitely needs to be in quotes. It is our Lord’s.

Part of what you are in charge of is called “mammon” in the Bible. Basically, it is what you own beyond what you need for survival. It is your “expendable money” beyond what you need to stay alive. Here’s a newsflash: It isn’t ours. We don’t actually get to spend it any way we want; and we don’t get to spend all the money entrusted to us on ourselves.

This is obvious, really. All of us here have more money than we actually need to stay alive today. With the extra, parents feed and clothe their children. The earners provide for the non-earners in the household. We pay our taxes. We help out family, friends, or strangers. We give to charities to help others. We provide for the gospel. And we spend it on ourselves, from things we want, like telephones, or tv’s to downright luxuries, like fast food, good coffee, a nice car, or the like. Remember this is “mammon,” the wealth beyond absolute necessity, it is somebody else’s money, and we are in charge of it, and supposed to manage it well.

We have all heard of the parents who don’t feed their children, but have all kinds of cool toys, or the people who spend all their money on themselves in the form of drugs or booze or other vices, and so they can’t pay rent. We know of people who don’t use their time on themselves, so they lose a job when the don’t show up for work. Unfaithful managers.

Most people would say they misused their time, talent, and money wrongly. Because sinners so often use mammon sinfully, Jesus calls it “unrighteous mammon,” or “worldly wealth.”

These are the basic ideas. Now let’s get to the story.

2. The Story

The story begins with the “outing” of the manager. He has squandered his master’s wealth. Who knows what he spent it on? Whatever it was, the master didn’t get the benefit of his own money, and he fired the manager.

This manager was clever, and so for the little time he had left in which people would think he was in charge, he used his master’s wealth yet again. “Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do since my master is taking the management away from me? I’m not strong enough to dig; I’m ashamed to beg. I know what I’ll do so that when I’m removed from management, people will welcome me into their homes.’

He used his master’s money to be merciful to the master’s debtors. “So he summoned each one of his master’s debtors. ‘How much do you owe my master?’ he asked the first one.

“ ‘A hundred measures of olive oil,’ he said.

“ ‘Take your invoice,’ he told him, ‘sit down quickly, and write fifty.’

“Next he asked another, ‘How much do you owe?’

“ ‘A hundred measures of wheat,’ he said.

“ ‘Take your invoice,’ he told him, ‘and write eighty.’

Smart guy. Crooked as all get out, but a smart guy. He knew his master had a reputation for being merciful and wouldn’t countermand the merciful treatment of the debtors. Even the master praised him for his shrewdness.

“You be like that,” Jesus said (paraphrasing) Use the mammon, the extra wealth that you have (that isn’t actually yours) in a merciful way, so that others will benefit from it. Don’t be so “heavenly minded” that you are no earthly good. “The master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the children of this age are more shrewd than the children of light in dealing with their own people. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of worldly wealth, so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.

Here’s the thing: Dishonest people in our society know how to take care of themselves: The congressman who loses the election finds a cozy spot with the lobbying firm whose clients benefited from the congressman’s votes. More on our level, a smart thief makes sure that he spreads the goodies around with his pals who cover for him. I can tell you that on the streets of Chicago the gangbangers are often deeply loved father-figures to children; they are the only source of the comforts of life. For the children of this age are more shrewd than the children of light in dealing with their own people. As strange is as it may seem, like the unjust manager, they are merciful with other people’s money. They know how to make friends

3. Now You Go and Make Friends

What does that say about the children of light, about Christians? Here we are: Everything we have is our Lord’s. Jesus is saying that if we are as shrewd as this crooked steward, we would be using His wealth, so often used unrighteously, to make friends for ourselves in the way that really counts, in the gospel.

Remember, this is not a way to heaven for you, for Jesus is talking to those who are “the children of light” already. His righteousness, including His perfect stewardship, is yours by grace through faith. As children of light, we want to do what is right, but we aren’t so good at it. Here Jesus is helping us get better.

To help understand all this, remember that we serve God by serving our neighbor. We don’t serve God by locking ourselves in a monastery and praying 20 hours a day, but by serving our neighbor, as Christ says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:37–40, CSB)

So, if the unfaithful manager knows how to make friends for himself in his exile, why don’t we? With OUR Lord’s money we could show mercy to people as well. We do this when we take good care of our families, when we are faithful in our vocations as we give glory to God, and as we bring the gospel to others.

Jesus says, And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of worldly wealth, so that when it fails, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings. Have you given conscious thought of how you use the wealth of this world to build His kingdom? Think about it. Figure it out. It’s management of money with real purpose.

Use your money to live where there is a church, and your children can be taught.  Support Christian schools. How many would greet us in eternity because they were not seduced by the humanism of secular, progressive education establishment? We can mercifully befriend the lonely. In our day and age, the work of the gospel is in dire need. If you don’t know of enough opportunities on your own, then look through the flyers in your church mailbox. There is a great example there – remember the people in our foreign missions with Covid, who can’t work? Fortunately, the teachers in Peru were taken care of. They may join in to the “well done” of our Lord and welcome us into heaven.

Have you thought how it is that you have come to know the mercy of God because of someone’s thoughtful management of wealth in view of God’s mercy? It’s what enables me to stand here today to proclaim to you that you are forgiven and the righteousness of the Perfect Steward, our Lord Jesus, is yours

AMEN