A Positive Negative

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) 

What? Did we read that right? After reading the verse above where Jesus tells His followers to make friends by “unrighteous mammon” we should be scratching our heads. Why? Because there’s an apparent conflict here. Jesus consistently warned us about mammon (the personification of the power of wealth) and its potential power to entice and lead us away from God. In fact, Jesus will go on to say exactly that in Luke 16:13. 

So, how can Jesus instruct us to dirty our hands by using unrighteous mammon to make friends for ourselves? This is where it benefits us to hold this thought and read on, because it will clarify what He is really saying here: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own” (Luke 16:10-12 NKJV)?

At the outset of this parable, which we examined two days ago, we saw a foundational principle established: A servant must be faithful to their master. That was the catalytic truth for this parable. Now Jesus ties all things together by bringing the focus back to faithfulness. 

In so many words, the Lord is telling us that being faithful involves our looking ahead. The unjust steward looked ahead and acted accordingly by using mammon in consideration of the future. Christ isn’t telling us to mishandle money or deal deceitfully, but He is telling us that we can learn something very valuable from a character like this. 

We can emulate his forward thinking, and we actually need to. Faithful servants in God’s kingdom are always going to be those who are thinking in heavenly terms, where “true riches” reside. 

If we simply see life through an earthly lens, without a perspective on the eternal realities and consequences that exist, our service to the Lord will never be what it should. Our priorities won’t match His—our time, talent, and treasure will be invested in things that won’t result in spiritual substance. And, we will pursue this world’s definition of wealth instead of making it our goal to be rich towards God (Luke 12:21).

From the negative example of the unfaithful steward, we can take away a positive lesson on faithfulness. He can serve as a reminder that we need to set our sights on the truths of eternity, the values of heaven, and faithfully serve our King.

DIG: Why do Christ’s opening words appear to contradict His other teachings?

DISCOVER: What is the resolution to this apparent contradiction?

DO: Consider different ways you can improve the practice of looking ahead.   

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.