"Make friends for yourselves through your use of this world's goods, so that when they fail you, a lasting reception will be yours." —Luke 16:9
Jesus tells us to make friends through our use of this world's goods (Lk 16:9). Luke sandwiches this advice between three parables in which Jesus shows us people who tried to make friends through the use of money. Both the prodigal son (Lk 15:13) and the rich man (Lk 16:19) used their money selfishly for lavish living, attracting friends along the way (Lk 15:30; 16:19). When their money failed them, they "found torment" (Lk 16:25; 15:17) rather than "a lasting reception" (Lk 16:9).
The devious steward alone is commended by Jesus (Lk 16:8) for his use of "this world's goods." This may be because he responded to a crisis by simplifying his life-style for the benefit of others rather than focusing solely on his selfish desires. One possible interpretation of this parable is that the steward simply canceled his own commission when he reduced the invoices of his master's creditors (Lk 16:5-7). Thus, his master lost little or nothing, and gained good will with his customers. The creditors obviously were pleased to pay less. The steward would then have absorbed the bulk of the loss himself, while others benefited (see 2 Cor 4:15). Having enriched others, the steward himself was then blessed with friends to provide for his needs (Lk 16:4; see also Phil 4:17, 19). Jesus commends the steward not for his devious practices, but for finding a way to use money to benefit others while meeting his own basic needs.
Prayer: Father, may Jesus have only good things to say about the way I use the money and possessions You have given me.
Promise: "In Him Who is the Source of my strength I have strength for everything." —Phil 4:13
Praise: Walt gives many thousands of dollars each year to fund the spread of the gospel.
(For related teaching, order our book, The Bible on Money.) (This teaching was submitted by one of our editors.)
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 4, 1998
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1998
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