Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

The Mammon of Unrighteousness

Luke 16 is an often misunderstood chapter in the Bible. It begins with a story about an unjust manager that has confused many Christians over the years. It ends with the more famous story of the rich man and Lazarus. This is such an interesting story about what happens to a person after they die that this quickly becomes the focus, and the theme of this chapter gets neglected. Just like the chapter before it, Luke 16 has a common theme that runs throughout the chapter, and helps us understand and interpret these stories. The focus of this chapter is on how Christians use their money and possessions. This is tough because we don’t like anyone telling us what to do with our money, not even Jesus.

C.S. Lewis once said, “If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” What Lewis meant by this is that Christianity should challenge us on every level. Every part of our life needs to submit to the authority of Jesus. This means we should think differently about behavior, politics, time management, and money. Our attitude will not change overnight, but it is something we work on as we continue to grow in Christ and become more spiritually mature. If we are not being challenged by our faith, then there is something wrong. Following Jesus is costly, but the reward is worth it.

The thing that confuses most people about the first story is the fact that Jesus tells a story about an unjust manager. Is Jesus encouraging His followers to engage in unethical behavior? The simple answer is no. Jesus is not telling this story in order to teach a lesson on business ethics. He has something else in mind. The unjust manager used “the mammon of unrighteousness” (a fancy way of saying earthly money/possessions) to secure his future on earth. The point Jesus wants us to walk away with is that we should use “the mammon of unrighteousness” to secure for ourselves a future in eternity with God. Jesus makes a similar statement in Luke 14:12-14. There He commands that we do not invite our friends, family members, or rich neighbors to dinner, but rather invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. He says when we do this we will be “repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” In other words, He wants us to use our worldly means to help others, and when we do we will be repaid when Jesus returns.

What happens if we do not do this? This is the purpose for the story at the end of Luke 16. The story of the rich man and Lazarus is a continuation of the story of the unjust manager. They are two separate stories that stand on their own, but when viewed within the context of Luke 16 it is obvious that they interpret each other. The first story is a command for us to use worldly means to help others, and secure for us an eternal future with God. The second story is a warning about what will happen if we do not do this. The rich man did not use his worldly wealth to help the poor man Lazarus, and therefore when he died he went to torment. This entire chapter is a call for us to think seriously about what we do with our wealth.

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