Question & Answer Forum: Mammon

Please explain – “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9).

An explanation of this difficult verse must take into consideration the context of Luke 16:1-13. The Lord Jesus is giving a discourse on money. He tells us of a shrewd but dishonest steward. The steward is commended, but certainly not for his dishonesty. He is commended because, as he was about to lose his position because of his initial wrongdoing, he wisely (shrewdly, sagaciously, discerningly) made a decision that “they might receive me into their houses,” thus wronging his master a second time (16:4). What is the intent of the parable? Before proceeding, a careful reading of 1 Timothy 6:6-21 will help in understanding the intent of the illustration. At the conclusion of the parable, the Lord Jesus stated “The children of this world (age) are in their generation wiser (more prudent) than the children of light” (Luke 16:8).

The Lord evidently meant that the unconverted, the children of this age, make better monetary decisions for time than the sons of Light make for eternity. Can the intensity and urgency of their interest in an earthly dwelling place actually exceed our interest in a heavenly reward?

This “steward of unrighteousness” made friends “out of (by means of) his use of the mammon of unrighteousness. Both are expressions of character. Money is called the “mammon of unrighteousness” because the “love of money is a root of every kind of evil”(1Tim 6:10). To many, money can be a trap; but to some, money can be a tool. Notice that those possessing riches are exhorted as follows: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1Tim 6:17-19).

Notice also that the Lord asked, “If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? (16:12). Our possessions are not ours. They are only on loan. They are merely entrusted to us temporarily as a stewardship. The present benefit of riches is not to be our focus; we belong to the Lord, as do any riches we have, and this wealth is to be an instrument to eternal reward from the Lord. Meditate on the words of a wise and willing steward: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer willingly after this manner? For all is of Thee, and of that which is from Thy hand have we given Thee” (1Chron 29:14, Darby).

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Cor 4:17-18).

Lloyd Cain