Cash for honours
“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 (NIV)
This verse has two elements that stand out to me. On the one hand, I’m not surprised at Jesus’ conclusion that wealth will ultimately fail. However, I am surprised at what seems to be an instruction to use wealth to gain friends. It reminds me of the UK government’s ‘cash for honours’ scandal, where rich people could, allegedly, buy their way into influential positions. Is this an instruction to use money to make strategic friendships or to gain prestige and power? Is this really the way God wants us to behave?
The Amplified Bible translates this instruction as: “…make friends for yourselves [for eternity] by means of the wealth of unrighteousness [that is, use material resources as a way to further the work of God]…”. The Message Bible states this passage as “… Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right…”. Perhaps these versions make the meaning of Luke 16:9 a bit clearer.
This parable is about a shrewd manager who is commended for handling the master’s money well, so perhaps Jesus wants to teach us a lesson about the correct way to manage wealth, however little we may feel we have. Anything we own is actually God’s, so we should make sure we handle it in the way he would like us to, just as the manager was to use the master’s money with wisdom. As Christians, this means we should use our resources responsibly, giving generously to God’s work as we are able.
Both the intimate dwelling together of Father, Son and Spirit, and the way Jesus came and died for us so we can enter into that union indicate the importance of relationships. Jesus has called us to tell others of what he has done for all humanity (Matthew 28:19), so we use our resources to further that aim. That way we will build relationships with people that will last into eternity. When the time comes for the ‘new heaven and new earth’ (Revelation 21:1), there will be no need for material possessions, however, we can look forward to being ‘welcomed into eternal dwellings’ with those we have built relationships with in this life.
So, using wealth to gain friends can actually be a good thing! If done correctly, it will be of eternal spiritual significance to all involved.
Father, thank you for the material possessions you have given me. I pray that I will use these to further your kingdom, so that others will know you and will, like me, look forward to the wonderful time when we are welcomed into our eternal dwelling place. Thank you that this future has been accomplished, and is secure, through the work of Jesus on the cross. In his name we pray. Amen.
Study by Anthony Dady
About the writer:
Anthony Dady is a minister in Grace Communion International and is the Regional Pastor for Wales, the Midlands, and Northern England.
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