Confused by the Use of Money

Luke 16:1-13

This is a strange parable, difficult to understand (for me at least). A rich man has a money manager who isn’t very good at his job, so the rich man fires him. The manager comes up with an unemployment plan: he will give all the rich man’s debtors a good deal on their bills. Why? Because they will be his friends and will take care of him when he is jobless. Really? Are you sure?

The rich man finds out about this and instead of being angry that the manager is giving away his money, he commends him for his craftiness and good thinking. Really? Who is this rich guy?

Then, in verse 9, Jesus says “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”  I had to look that verse up to see how other people explain it. It sounds to me like “use money to buy friends and that will get you into heaven.” Of course that is contrary to everything we know is right. One explanation was “use worldly wealth to gain friends” means use your money to help people. They will become your friends because of your kindness and will come to know the Lord and be saved. “…so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” When you die, there isn’t any money and you’ll live in heaven for spreading the Gospel and live eternally with your new friends. I’m thinking, if that’s what Jesus meant, why didn’t he just say that?

One thing I like about this verse is it demonstrates that a single verse does not stand on its own. It needs to be understood in the context of the surrounding verses and in the context of the entire Bible.

The last verse in this set is familiar: “You cannot serve God and Money.” That’s true without a doubt. The lead in verses, I’m not so sure. “No servant can serve two masters. He’ll  love one and hate the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.” Really? I think you could serve two masters if they weren’t giving contradictory orders. I have a principal and a superintendent. I work with both of them. I have a library director and a supervisor. I work with both of them.  But definitely, when God is your master, there can be no other master. Unless Jesus can be considered as a separate master. Hmmmm.

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