The Mammon of Unrighteousness

by David J. Stewart

"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

       This is quite an interesting Scripture, which perplexes many students new to the Bible.  At first glance, it doesn't appear to make sense.  Why would God want us to become friends with anything unrighteous?  To understand this Scripture, first realize that the term "mammon" simply means money.  The phrase "mammon of unrighteousness" is referring to the world's money, i.e., the money of this unrighteous world.  Money in itself is not evil, it is man's love for money that is the root of all evil (1st Timothy 6:10).  Here's an excellent explanation of Luke 16:1-13, by the mighty preacher, J. Vernon McGee.  These words of wisdom are so important for Christians today...

And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods [Luke 16:1].

This is the story of a rich man and his unjust steward. A steward is a man who has charge of another man’s goods. Abraham had a steward, you remember, who had charge of all his possessions. It was Abraham’s steward who went on a trip to Haran to find a bride for Abraham’s son Isaac. David had stewards, mentioned in 1 Chronicles 28:1. David’s stewards had charge over all of the king’s possessions, including his children. Paul tells us, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2).

The steward in this parable would correspond to the president of a corporation. He had charge of this rich man’s goods. He was guilty of malfeasance in office and misappropriation of funds. He was like the bank president who absconds with bank funds. The unjust steward wasted the goods of his master.

And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward [Luke 16:2].

The day of reckoning had come for this man. He had to give an account. Now since he had the signet ring of his master and was the paymaster, instead of drawing up a financial statement, he decided to use the law of the world which is self-preservation.

Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed [Luke 16:3].

This man had soft hands and felt he could not be a common laborer. And he was ashamed to beg. It makes you smile to read this verse—the man may have been ashamed to beg, but he was not ashamed to steal! Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like that today.

I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses [Luke 16:4].

This man did not repent; he had no regret or remorse for his actions. This man was crooked—called clever by the world’s standards. He had no training for other work, and his age was probably against him. He was too proud to beg, but he was not ashamed to be dishonest.

So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty [Luke 16:5–6].

The steward was asking, "How much do you owe my master?" This man owed his master one hundred barrels of oil. "Well," the steward said, "oil is about one dollar a barrel now. I will tell you what we will do. We will let you have it for fifty cents a barrel." The man only had to pay half of what he owed.

Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore [Luke 16:7].

I do not know why he did not give this fellow the same discount that he gave the other fellow, but this man had to pay eighty cents on the dollar. The unjust steward is just as big a crook at the end as he was at the beginning of his career.

He is not being punished.

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light [Luke 16:8].

This is a shocking statement. Who made it? The lord of the steward, meaning his employer, the rich man. Apparently this man got rich using the same kind of principles that his unjust steward used. He tells him he has done wisely. In what way? According to the principles of the world. This is the world that hates Christ. It makes its own rules. The law of the world is "dog eat dog." The worldly lord commended his worldly steward for his worldly wisdom according to his worldly dealings.

The Lord Jesus said, "For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." That is, the children of this world, of this age, use their money more wisely than do the children of light.

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].

The most shocking and startling statement of all concerns the relationship of the believer to the "mammon of unrighteousness." What is the "mammon of unrighteousness?" It is riches, money. Money is not evil in itself; money is amoral. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. For believers money is to be spiritual. Our Lord said that we should lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. We should be wise in the way we use our money. Then when we "fail" or come to the end of life, we will be welcomed into heaven.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? [Luke 16:10–12].

We are stewards of that which is material. We own nothing as believers. We are responsible to God for how we use His goods. He says that the men of this world are wiser than the children of light in their stewardship. For years I was pastor of a church in downtown Los Angeles which was near the financial district. Through the years I watched many of the men go into a broker’s office and watch the fluctuation of the stock market. They would sit down in the morning and figure out what they were going to do. They would not invest in any stock unless they thought it was going to go up in value, or they would play the market. A Christian man once told me that he had made his money by playing the stock market. For this reason he would not accept an office in the church—I do not know how he reconciled to himself the fact that he was a church member. He was clever at making money.

How many Christians today are smart in the use of the mammon of unrighteousness—money? Do they use it to gather spiritual wealth? God will hold you responsible for the misuse of the material wealth He gives you. I personally know of a program that is run just for the self-interest of one individual. In another organization ninety percent of what is given to that program supports a tremendous overhead that keeps men driving Cadillac automobiles. That means you would have to give one hundred dollars to get ten dollars to the poor folk they are telling you about. There is something wrong with the way Christians give their money. This would not happen if Christians were as smart as the men of the world. How smart are you, Christian friend, in money matters? Are you using your money to see that the Word of God reaches those who need it?

In the parable of the unjust steward the Lord Jesus is saying, "Do you think God is going to trust you with heavenly riches if you are not using properly that which He has given you on earth?" Money is a spiritual matter. You are responsible not only for giving it, but for investing it where it will yield the highest dividends in folk reached for Christ.

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [Luke 16:13].

What are you doing with your money? Are you making money? If you are, what are you doing with it? This is a pertinent question. Are you using it for the things of the world? If you are, you are serving mammon; that is your master. Are you serving God or mammon? You cannot serve them both.

SOURCE: Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Luke 16:1-13

So many believers today are foolish with God's money.  Yes, every penny we receive, as Christians, is God's money.  Where do we spend it?  Americans spend $5,000,000,000 every year at Christmas time just for gifts for THEIR PETS!  Yet, 18,000 children die every day in this sin-cursed world according to the UN.  There were 946 billionaires in 2006!  Yet, half the population of this world lives on less than $2 a day.  Now, Christians cannot help everyone, but we can help some.  Who are we helping besides ourselves? 

Jesus said in Luke 16:9, "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."  The best interpretation of this Scripture is found by comparing It with Matthew 6:19-20, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."  The implication in Luke 16:9 is clear--we should lay up for ourselves treasures in Heaven, by using what we have to serve the Lord now.  This life is short, and the riches of this world (i.e., the mammon of unrighteousness) cannot go with us when we die.  We would be wise to use this world's resources to lay up treasures in Heaven.  

Just as the unjust steward couldn't take any of the rich man's wealth with him, neither can we take anything out of this wicked world.  But the unjust steward was wise, and made use of the rich man's goods, to secure him a better place in the future when the rich man kicked him out.  Jesus is saying that we should do the same thing, but in a good way.  We can't take this sinful world's wealth with us when we die, but we can use it to lay up treasures in Heaven.

"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


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