CALLING ALL THEOLOGIANS!

Here’s a verse that’s kind of strange. For years, every time I read it, I went, “huh?” Recently I’ve asked around about it and I’ve got some interesting explanations. I’m not quite sure where I stand on it yet. I’d love to know what your take on it is.

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.” (Luke 16:9, NKJV)

So what does it mean? Be sure to read the passage for context and feel free to use other versions. I suggest you try to figure it out yourself before resorting to commentaries and the like. Enlighten us with your two cents! 🙂

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  1. This passage was part of my motivation for inventing the Cheesesteak Challenge . I am not a theologian, but I do enjoy using $$$ in creative ways. CBB

  2. I always struggled with this passage. Then, a few years ago, I ran into a commentary which pretty much gave me my thoughts on this passage. I’ll come back later with a link to it, because I can’t very well spoil all the future comments.

  3. The idea I like is basically that Jesus is calling us to be generous with what is not ours to keep (money, time, energy… everything in this life), to invest into eternity. For instance, rather than hoarding all my unrighteous mammon, I “make friends” by it, giving to the poor, serving people, being generous and quick to give. Because at the end of life, how much stuff I have is not going to matter. What will matter is what kind of condition my heart is in. It’s the same idea as storing up treasures in heaven.

    My two cents. (And a lot of insight from Sarah-Beth, as she wrote on this section for our Luke commentary.)

  4. Retroman – is the challenge basically just to come to Philly and let you buy me a cheesesteak? Not bad…Not bad at all.

    Idhrendur – thanks for holding off – you play fun! I’m looking forward to your thoughts.

    Amanda – good stuff! Kudos to Sarah-Beth.

  5. That’s it – not just you, but anybody committed to prayer. Since Philly is the largest city w/o a 24/7 prayer house we hope to lure some HOPpers from other cities out here 🙂 – or some Philly natives to come back 🙂 . I mean, where else can you pray on site at the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Constitution center, or at the graves of the founding fathers?

    There is always the possibility of a special “dispensation” of the challenge. We also have the Philly Soft Pretzel out here for those who are vegans. Yum. CBB

  6. Wow! You are a great salesman! Keep it up!

  7. benjaminwood

    Molly,
    This verse is kind of sending me on a tailspin as i try to understand the meaning. What i did find interesting is the take that Peterson puts on it in “the Message” it states this: Verses 8-9 “Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. 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—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”

  8. Wow! So, this is the gospel of Oliver Twist? Actually, it makes sense. I don’t know that I would have said it like that, but I think it’s actually in the ballpark.

  9. benjaminwood

    i know thats why i figured i would post it.

  10. kylegebhart

    i think it means give people money if it helps lead them into righteousness. as in – if i’m doing evangelism, if people give me the time of day and talk to me – give them a $5 gift card to starbucks at the end of the conversation. a little $ can go a long way.

  11. Interesting. I like it.

  12. O.K., I get home from work (4:30 am) and I sit down to catch up on blogs I have missed during the week. As I read this post I can feel my brain swelling and the insomnia coming because I have this one verse (Luke 16:9) floating around in my head.

    UGH! What does it mean?

    If I do not explode, I hope God reveals the meaning before I fall over from exhaustion.

    Seriously though, thanks for pointing me to that verse.

  13. Chuck – great to hear from you! Don’t explode and don’t fall over! I feel both bad and good for pointing you to that verse! 🙂 Wow – you work late!

  14. Don’t feel bad. We are working this out in our lives right now, so it was a gentle nudge in the right direction.

    Yeah, I guess I do work late.

    Blessings

  15. Well, I was going to put my thoughts, but I reread the passage, and now I have more thoughts, and some confusion, and I’ll just have to get back to you.

  16. Hope your thoughts+confusion=nuggets of wisdom for us. 🙂

  17. TO start, I’m going to insist that the following verses are important context. That was the point of my confusion. Initially, I stopped reading at verse nine, but it seems to me that everything through verse fifteen is all part of the same unit.

    At first read, it seems the manager is being dishonest when he’s fired. He seems to cheat the master to try and make some friends. But the master praises him, and in verse ten Jesus suggests this was trustworthy handling of the wealth.

    Remember what got the manager fired: wasting the master’s possesions. Apparently the master considers just giving the deptors a bunch of money (well, essentially) to NOT be wasting his possesions. Why? Because it demonstrates the heart of the master: generosity.

    As Christians, we know all about the generosity of God. From the cross to the food we eat daily, we know all we recieve is from God’s hand. I think Jesus is saying we need to use temporal things to demonstrate God’s heart. And look at the effect. We use temporal wealth to make friends. These friends then welcome us into eternal dwellings. That means they have eternal dwellings to welcome us into! Our generosity with worldly wealth somehow ends in salvation.

    Likewise, if we fail to manage worldly wealth well (with generosity), then we won’t be trusted with greater things. We recieve no spiritual wealth, we recieve no wealth of our own.

  18. Idhrendur – Wow! That’s great stuff. I’ve never heard that spin before. Very interesting indeed.

  19. Yeah, my reread just got stuck on the “eternal dwellings” bit. Oh, and the commentary I mentioned way at the top is here.

  20. Idhrendur – Thanks for the link to the commentary!

  21. Robin

    Idhrendur – I had conluded about the same as Amanda, using it for eternal purposes, but WOW!!!! You put it so well. Good stuff!

  22. I guess that’s what happens when I organize my thoughts on paper before I start typing into the little box here. I should try that more often!




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