I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. —Luke 16:9
Luke 16 1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “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. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
This is a difficult parable because it’s a negative example. The dishonest manager was smart enough to realize that he needed to prepare for the next phase of his life, because he had a few problems:
He wouldn’t be able to get another white-collar job—his previous employer wasn’t about to provide a reference to any business owners looking for a manager.
He couldn’t get a blue-collar job because his health wouldn’t allow it—he wasn’t strong enough to dig.
He didn’t want a no-collar job, since begging was beneath him.
So he planned to retire—but not quite yet—not until he positioned himself, utilizing his employer’s resources to secure the retirement he desired.
The praise from his master was not for his dishonestly; neither was it for his squandering the possessions he had been given to manage. The reason Jesus told this story was to make this point—even though the guy was a criminal, at least he wasn’t just thinking about the here and now—he was thinking about the there and then, he was positioning his master’s money with his future in mind. And that’s the point of the story. We are to be like the lousy employee in one regard—that we plan the here-and-now with with there-and-then in mind. Then, in His after-story comments, Jesus spins the three purposes for financial wealth. Like this manager, at some point our Master will not only call us home, He call us in. When all the dust settles and we too enter our eternal dwelling, it’s important that these three things have happened:
1. That the Master would be pleased.
Ultimately, everything we do is to magnify the name and character of God. That, then, would also be one of the purposes for money—money is a tool we are given to glorify God. You could call that worship.
2. That the workers would have become trusted partners.
The Great Co-mission is a partnership. This isn’t just about changing your financial future, it’s about changing the world. One of the purposes for money is to express your desire to partner with God’s agenda. If every financial decision is an act of worship, then every financial decision also becomes a missional decision.
3. That the workers would be provided their own reward.
The Bible is clear about the temporal reward of living a generous life. But the greatest reward is the reward we will receive for ourselves in eternity. Remember, getting to Heaven is all that matters, until you get there.