Luke 16 and making friends with dishonest wealth


Hey everyone. I was reading Luke 16:1-14 and in one part Jesus says to make friends with dishonest wealth. What does this mean?

Then he also said to his disciples, A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him.
(Luke 16:1-14 NAB)
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
(Luke 16:9 NAB)**


One interpretation I heard was that those who had money should use some of it to make sure their neighbors are their friends (i.e. bribes) to lessen their chance of being turned in during the early persecutions. The informant in those days normally would have received a portion of whatever the condemned owned.


The interpretation is difficult for me. Here is a previous thread on it:
Catholic Answers Forums - The parable of the dishonest manager.


It’s a tough parable to understand. Here’s the interpretation of it that I’ve read, and take as reasonable:

What the steward did was realize that, if he was going to land a new job, he’d need to make friends with his prospective employers before leaving his current one. So, he gave up his own earnings on his deals (it’s important to note that he’s not cheating his employer, but rather, giving up the interest he’d have made) in order to get on the good side of these other folks. So, his master (and putatively, his potential employers) noted that he was willing to take a small short-term loss in order to ensure a larger long-term gain, and respected him for his shrewdness.

So, when Jesus says, “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations” (I prefer the RSV-CE translation here; it’s more literal to the text, which is important in this case), He means that His followers need to heed the example of the worldly: reject short-term gains in order to secure the long-term gain that’s really important to you! Just as the steward wanted to be accepted into a new household, Christians should be focused on being received into eternal life; having become acquainted with the way the ‘children of this age’ act strategically, Christians, too, should have a strategy: give up chasing possessions now, so that you might possess heaven later.


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 9. Make for yourselves friends, &c. Not that we are authorized to wrong our neighbour, to give to the poor: evil is never to be done, that good may come from it. (St. Thomas Aquinas) — But we are exhorted to make the poor our friends before God, by relieving them with the riches which justly indeed belong to us, but are called the mammon of iniquity, because only the iniquitous man esteems them as riches, on which he sets his affections; whilst the riches of the virtuous are wholly celestial and spiritual. (St. Augustine, de quæst. Evang.) — Of the mammon of iniquity. Mammon is a Syriac word for riches; and so it might be translated, of the riches of iniquity. Riches are called unjust, and riches of iniquity, not of themselves, but because they are many times the occasion of unjust dealings, and of all kind of vices. (Witham) — Mammon signifies riches. They are here called the mammon of iniquity, because oftentimes ill-gotten, ill-bestowed, or an occasion of evil; and at the best are but worldly, and false: and not the true riches of a Christian. — They may receive. By this we see, that the poor servants of God, whom we have relieved by our alms, may hereafter, by their intercession, bring our souls to heaven. (Challoner) — They may receive you into their eternal tabernacles. What a beautiful thought this! What a consolation to the rich man, when the term of his mortal existence is approaching, to think he shall have as many advocates to plead for his admittance into the eternal mansions of rest, as he has made friends among the poor by relieving their temporal wants. The rich give to the poor earthly treasures, the latter return in recompense eternal and infinite happiness. Hence we must infer, that the advantage is all on the side of the giver; according to the saying of our Lord, happier is the condition of him who gives, than of him who receives. (Haydock)


Thanx for this thread, Holly, the way I understand it
is that we should be careful HOW the Church uses money,
if we use it to gain the trust and respect of others TO
WIN THEM OVER all for the Kingdom of God, then
the Church will give glory and praise to God, for our
good and the good of ALL His holy Church!


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