Friday of Pentecost 15 – Luke 16:1-15 

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

Betty came up to me rather sheepishly one Sunday. I could tell from the way she was acting that there was something up. She pulled my arm and drew me aside. “Pastor, I want to make a large gift to the church.” We were a typical parish, operating on the edge of solvency, so this was welcome news. “But Pastor, I won the money at the casino. Can I give that to the church?” I assured her that we would sanctify her ill-gotten gains by paying teacher salaries in our school. It turns out she had, on a whim, put a dollar in the slot machine near the door and won the BMW sportscar which was parked right inside the door. She did not want such a thing, could not even get in and out of the car, so she sold it and took the cash.

We did talk about gambling for a while, but what struck me about the conversation was the extent to which she worried about the morality of her gift. Jesus tells us to make friends today with our unrighteous wealth. Just what is that? Is it Betty’s slot machine winnings? Is it all money? Or is it something else? I think Jesus is not giving advice about money at all in this passage. He is not talking about money, not really. He is the treasure and the forgiveness He won when He gave us His life is the treasure. The “unrighteous wealth” which we have is a treasure which we did not earn and do not deserve. That is what makes it unrighteous. But it is the most righteous thing of all – for it makes us righteous. The unrighteous wealth, the undeserved wealth, we have is forgiveness itself.

We use this unrighteous wealth to make friends who will welcome us to heaven when we forgive and love people. The manager in the story was forgiving debts. Did you catch that? He was forgiving debts. Jesus says that master commended that shrewd manager. God has given you a great treasure, forgiveness, and He would really like you to go waste it on some sinners today.

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