When It Is Gone You Will Be Welcomed
“And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. ”
~ Luke 16:8-9
Sometimes God brings wealth into our lives. We often speak about this as one of his blessings, and I've met Christians with significant financial resources who humbly describe themselves as being blessed. All wealth isn't necessarily from God, but God does bless people with material riches (see Job 42:12).
When I was growing up, there was a point when my dad hadn't been paid in a long time over a business matter, and my parents were unable to cover their bills. They had three small children to take care of, living month to month. My parents drew close to Christ and prayed. Money would mysteriously appear in our mailbox, in an unlabeled envelope. There was always just enough to get by, and we knew that an anonymous Christian had become aware of our situation and put it there. It was someone that God had blessed with the finances to help others.
The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (also sometimes called the Parable of the Unjust Steward) in Luke 16 can be a little confusing, but the point Jesus is making is not complicated; it's just unexpected. He tells the story of a manager who was responsible for his master's wealth but had done poorly in managing it. The master becomes aware and is about to sack him. The manager, knowing he is about to lose his position, relinquishes a portion of the debts owed to his master to create friendships with the debtors. It's more dishonest dealing, but it succeeds. The man used the wealth under his control to build relationships that would help him. Even his master (who has been cheated in the process) commends him for his shrewdness.
Jesus' point is this. If ungodly people are shrewd enough to use worldly wealth to create relationships among their own kind, children of the light should do the same among their brethren. In other words, in spite of his dishonesty, this man got one thing right. The point of wealth is to cultivate relationships, not to accumulate riches for its own sake. The manager's termination is comparable to the believer's transition to eternity. The end is coming, so there is no reason to hoard wealth. We need to take this example but apply it for godly purposes.
Wealth is not evil. We come into it by different means. God can certainly bless us with it, but this is not a promise he makes. God blesses faithful people in different ways, and I believe there are much greater blessings than wealth. Children, a loving spouse and health are three that come to mind. But if God blesses you with wealth, he expects you to use it to help others who are hurting. Using it in any other way is a waste, because when the end comes, the only thing that will matter is the people whose lives you have changed for his glory. These may become friendships that last forever, or you may simply remain behind the scenes. But either way, you are using your blessing to bless others. God doesn't give people wealth to simply indulge themselves. We are accountable for what we do with it, on the final day.
I don't know who put that money in our mailbox, those many years ago, but we were able to buy food with it, and it got us through a dark time. One day I will know who they are. But all that really matters is that God does, and welcomes them into his presence for their faithfulness.
Lord Jesus, help me to use the wealth you give me to glorify you. Allow me to manage my time and resources in a way which values things correctly in connection with eternity. Give me opportunities to bless others with the overflow in my own life. Amen.
~ Michael Cranford has a heart for equipping others to follow Christ in today's world. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California at Irvine, a Master of Divinity from Talbot School of Theology, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from the University of Southern California. Visit his website at OneSteadfast.com and follow him on Twitter at @OneSteadfast and Facebook.