555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

307. What Is Meant by "Making Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness"?

Probably no passage has been so often the subject of dispute as this in Luke 16:8, 9. The Revised Version renders it, "Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness." Luther thought it was a caution against avarice. Farrar regarded it as an injunction to care and faithfulness. Taking account of the parable that precedes the passage, it would appear that Christ was showing how a wicked man succeeded in getting friends at his employer's expense. Good men were not nearly so much in earnest in their godly affairs as the worldly men in their business affairs. If they used their money in relieving the needs of the poor they would make friends in heaven. It would not open the door of heaven, but it would cause those who had been benefited to give a warm welcome, thus enhancing the joy of that state. Dr. William Taylor used to illustrate it thus: A man whose house has been broken into naturally condemns the burglar; but he would be justified in pointing out to a lazy or incompetent workman, that if he had half the ingenuity the burglar had displayed he would soon make a fortune. We cannot imagine sorrow in heaven, but if there is any man who feels regret, it is he who on earth saw his poor brother suffer for the lack of money that he might have given out of his abundance. In heaven he cannot ease the burden of earth, but he must regret that when it was in his power he did not do it. In the passage in Luke our Lord was showing how worldly people, "in their generation" and for their own selfish purposes, were prudent and sagacious in the worldly sense, and showed energy and determination in carrying out their mercenary plans, none of which, however, were for God and eternity. They were types of the money-makers of that day. Even from them, selfish and worldly though they were, the children of light might learn the lesson of concentration—not in relation to worldly, but to spiritual, things. It should be noted also that (verse 8) it was not Jesus, but the "lord" of the steward who commended the latter. The Revised Version corrects verse 9, which, accurately translated, reads: "Make to yourself friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness," etc., implying that they, "the children of light," should use money not as the steward did, for selfish purposes, but in doing good to others. (See Luke 6:38 and Matt. 25:34-40.)