Please read Luke 16:1-14, which is the parable of the Unjust Steward, and some sayings of Jesus on the subject of money and Mammon. I am going to quote from it in this piece, but for your own sake, as this is such an important thing, I encourage you to read the whole thing.
Jesus tells a story about this manager who was looking after someone else’s trading business. The report comes to the owner that this manager has been wasting his goods. Maybe he’s been living it up at expensive restaurants and hotels, gambling with his master’s money, or siphoning off some on the side for himself. Anyway, word gets back to the owner and so he calls the manager in and says, “What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.” (vs 2)
A steward is basically a manager who is looking after resources for someone else. The goods don’t belong to the steward, but he controls the use of them, and should be working to get the best result for the master / owner of the stuff.
This manager realizes his days are numbered. He has been found out. So he thinks, “What am I going to do?” He is not fit for hard labor, being an administrator and all, and he’s too proud to beg. So he comes up with a plan. He basically goes out and writes down the debt of all his master’s debtors, so that he can get in their good books, so that by the time he loses his job he’ll have some friends to look after him a bit and help him get on his feet again, or whatever.
And his boss, before sacking him, has to admit that he’s been pretty smart.
Now Jesus gets to the point of the story. He says,
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home”.
What Jesus is saying here doesn’t seem to make complete sense to us at first glance, but I think this much can be gleaned:
1. We are like the dishonest manager. Right now, God has entrusted us with a certain amount of “unrighteous mammon”. Money, if you will. Money of course, is the normal power by which people can get people to do things and give them things in this world. Perhaps the “unrighteous mammon” is especially unrighteous today, because it is all built on the fraud of central banking and artificial credit creation. I don’t know about that interpretation, but certainly, money is pretty closely associated with all the dishonest and tricky things people will do in order to get their earthly needs as well as their various lusts satisfied. A lot of people, Christians included, have at some time or another cheated someone else, or cheated the Government, in order to get a little bit more of this “unrighteous mammon” than they otherwise would have had. And this stuff keeps passing around in the economy, changing from one pair of unclean hands to another. So maybe that is why Jesus calls it “unrighteous mammon”. I don’t think Jesus is saying you have to sin in order to get money. But its a fair bet that the money you are using has been used for unrighteous purposes before.
So God is saying to you and to me: “One day soon you will no longer be steward over this unrighteous mammon”. You don’t get to keep it. Its strange, because the way a lot of people behave with money, Christians included, you would imagine that they think they are going to be able to keep it forever. No way, chum. Sooner or later you will die, and then you will no longer be a steward of unrighteous mammon. In fact, you are definitely going to be called to account for the way you have handled it.
This steward may have been a crook, but he was smart enough to realize that he should use his remaining days or hours as steward to prepare for himself a decent situation in life after his stewardship was to be terminated. I think the LORD is saying in verse 8: “a lot of my people are not that smart”. They are not smart enough to think about using what they cannot keep in such a way as to gain what they cannot lose.
Returning to the saying of Jesus:
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home”. (vs 9)
If this means anything, it means that we need to use money right if we want to be received into heaven when we die. I know that may go against what a lot of people understand about “justification by faith”. But the kind of “faith” that lets you behave criminally with God’s resources, and also lie, cheat and steal and so on, is not the kind of faith that justifies. Can such a faith save you? Even the crooked tax collector Zaccheus was called a son of Abraham into whose house salvation had come AFTER he declared his intention to restore what he had stolen and give his ill gotten gains away to the poor. Some of us don’t like that doctrine, because actually, we are just like the Pharisees Jesus addresses directly after this parable, who “justify themselves before men, but God knows our hearts”. Some of us are pursuing mammon with all our hearts, but justifying ourselves by keeping the outside of the cup clean, just as the Pharisees did.
This Calls for Some Deep Soul Searching
Why did Jesus say these things? Many have supposed that you could live as if your money was your own, giving very little for God’s true purposes, or just as much as suited your carnal agenda, and God would be cool with that. Not so.
The records of the first centuries of the early church reveal that the early Christians understood Jesus’ message quite in the way we might by a first reading. They DESPISED MONEY. They despised the agenda of PURSUING WEALTH.
I suspect that money is a bit like a ticking hand grenade. You had better pass it on to spend it on loving people and meeting urgent needs, or it might just BLOW UP IN YOUR FACE.
The Bible says that thieves, covetous and extortioners are on the list with adulterers, homosexuals, drunkards and sodomites – of those who will not enter the Kingdom of God. Unless they repent, of course. See 1 Corinthians 6:19. God takes money-related sins very seriously. And note, there is no civil law against being covetous. And covetousness has become almost the water in which we swim today. A covetous person is one who is more or less consumed by the desire to get more and more of the things of this world. The accumulation of wealth has become a passion for them, but not because they are consumed with a desire to help the needy. Why are people consumed with the desire for money? It is because they love the world, and the things of the world. According to 1 John 2:15, “the love of the Father is not in them”.
We’ve got a church today that behaves as if Jesus has nothing to say about this. We’ve got a church today that believes that “you can serve God and Mammon”, presumably as long as you tithe to the organization or whatever. The idea seems to be, spend part of your time serving Mammon, and part of your time, “serving God”. Remember that the Pharisees themselves thought that they were serving God. But God did not think so.
God wants us to “seek first His Kingdom, and His righteousness” knowing that as we do, “all these things will be added unto you” as well. (Matthew 6:33). But man in his proud way wants to reverse the order. We think, “seek ye first money, and the things of the Kingdom will be added unto you, because it takes money to do God’s work”. It doesn’t work like that. And its only a half truth that “it takes money to do God’s work”. It takes money to live and to eat. Money can help create platforms for the message. But honestly, does it take money to pray? Does it take money to talk to your next-door neighbour about Jesus? How much money does it take to meet together with other believers in your home?
I think when we begin to rebuke this spirit of mammon worship in the church, we are going to get all kinds of responses similar to what Jesus got. It says,
“Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard these things, and they derided Him.” (Luke 16:14) In other words, they despised Jesus for what he had just said. They thought He was a bit of an idiot. After all, they were the ones who were running the current religious establishment. They were wise to the way things got done in reality. They must have thought that Jesus was off his rocker.
How many times do we hear things like, “God is not against you having money, He’s against it having you.” Its a half truth. Our hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. We can flatter ourselves that money doesn’t have our hearts, but why are we so reluctant to give to fruitful ministries who preach the truth? Why do we spend 8-10 hours a day pursuing it, and have little or no time for prayer, the Word or soulwinning? Why are we reluctant to give to widows and orphans? “Oh, but the Lord is not leading me to do that.” Which LORD are you talking about? God or Mammon? See James 1:27. Why are our closets full of toys for our children? Why do so many of us live in homes much bigger than we need, and drive cars that are worth a lot more than is necessary to get the job done? Did the LORD lead us to get all those things, or did we just figure that “God is not against me having all this stuff.” How many of us really need the mansions, the boats, the fancy cars, the foreign travel, the video games and all the rest of the “stuff” that we have?
And He [Jesus] sad to them: “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
What do you think Jesus was talking about that is “highly esteemed among men”. Looking at the context, could it possibly be “MONEY” or “MAMMON”? Yes folks, open your eyes. Mammon and money is HIGHLY ESTEEMED AMONG MEN. And guess what. It is an ABOMINATION in the sight of God.
There we have it, folks. Get rid of your abominations. Slay the idol. Pass on the hot potato. “Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon”. In other words, give it away, and preserve your own soul. Not to make some preacher rich, but perhaps to enable many preachers to keep going and keep working for the truth. Maybe to help orphans or the poor. Just get rid of that stuff – lest gold and silver eat you like a canker worm in hell.
“Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.” (James 5:3)
This is a major issue, and I say without fear of contradiction that multitudes of people have died without hearing the gospel or seeing it demonstrated because of the incredible STINGINESS and BLINDNESS of the majority of those who claim to be Christians. They have gone to hell in their sins, but isn’t their blood also staining the hands of those in the church who thought they could “Lay up for themselves treasures on earth” and that God would be cool with that?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal … for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19,21).
I fear lest for many of us, our hearts are firmly planted ON THE EARTH because that is where our treasure is. We haven’t sacrificed for the spread of the gospel, or put ourselves out for “the least of these” – see Matthew 25.
Its time to rectify these things. Ask God what He would have YOU do. Make sure that your cheque-book butts or your bank statement reflect your love for God and for mankind. And be a little bit wise. You can’t keep all this stuff. Your life is running out like sand through an hour-glass. Make sure that your handling of money helps you and others get to heaven and escape the eternal fire of hell.