(Jesus said) “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.” (Luke 16:9b)
Luke 16:9 centers around a number of verses in the Bible (Luke 16:1-15) which deal with money and our need, as Christians, to be wise stewards of it. In particular, I like verse 9 which says that, somehow, we are to “make friends” with others through our money, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. In fact, the verse is talking about using our money wisely, in such as way that we will be able to influence others and even win souls through it. In fact, if souls are not won directly through it, they should be won indirectly through it. For example, helping a missionary is a wise use of “unrighteous mammon”. Indirectly we are winning souls through it as we help the missionaries do their work.
Of course, I think that Jesus is talking about more than just supporting missionaries in this verse. I think he is talking about, in part, using our money to personally influence unbelievers to put their faith in Christ. Taking someone out for a meal at a restaurant, or even just buying them a coffee or a donut, and then using that time to explain to them the gospel, as God leads, is just one way that we can use our “unrighteous mammon” to bless others in this respect. Another way would be to purchase a few videos with it, and then encourage your children (assuming you have children) to invite their friends over to watch those videos. Those videos, of course, will have something to do with the gospel, and will be used by God to plants spiritual seeds in the hearts of those God wants to reach.
Recently, my wife and I had our own chance to use “unrighteous mammon” to serve God in our Sunday school class, which we teach to 6 year old children. From the example of others who have already been doing this, we decided to set up a “store” that the children could purchase items at, including candy (with the parents permission), hot-wheels styles racing cars, WWJD (What-Would-Jesus-Do) shoelaces, and other trinkets. The children were absolutely delighted with the store — and the buying power we are giving them comes from memory verses which they must memorize in order to receive “Discipleship Dollars” (hence the title of this article, “Memory Money”).
We had not tried this approach before, but we quickly realized just how powerful it is and the attraction it has to the children. One of the children who has NEVER memorized a verse quickly said, “I’d like to do a verse”. Another boy who also has NEVER gotten a verse and in fact doesn’t show up very often said, “If this is what I get for memorizing verses, I’ll be coming back every week!” (I’m sure he’ll be reminding his parents to remember to take him to church, too.) Do you see just how powerful the use of “unrighteous mammon” can be? Not only will the children benefit by it, but they’ll now be dragging their parents to church on account of it! In no uncertain terms, every one of the chidren’s eyes lit up, including our daughter Elizabeth’s! Finally, we reached them where it mattered!
Well, Jesus did the same thing, too, didn’t he, when he came into this world as a human being? After all, he reached us “where it mattered” — in our humanity. That is what the incarnation is all about … reaching us, and identifying us, right where it matters. Setting up a store for these children obviously has had the same type of effect — reaching them on their level. And, of course, who doesn’t like free pizza or a free meal or an invitation over to someone’s house in order to watch a video or have some good clean fun? Well, there is our challenge — making friends through the use of unrighteous mammon. What will be the effect? In the end, as Jesus has said, these SAME people will receive US into eternal dwellings! They will be in heaven, and we will be in heaven, together! And what a party that will be! Will you be there?