The Gospel of Luke: a commentary & meditation 
"What is considered admirable in human eyes is detestable in the sight of God"

Scripture: Luke 16:9-15

9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations. 10 "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, 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 mammon." 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at him. 15 But 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.

Meditation: What does "tainted money" (or "unrighteous mammon") have to do with eternal life?  Jesus exhorts his disciples to follow in the footsteps of the shrewd steward who used money generously to make friends for himself (see the parable of the dishonest steward in Luke 16:1-9).  Generous giving is connected with almsgiving -- giving financial assistance to those in need (sell your possessions and give alms -Luke 12:33).  Those who receive alms become your friends because you are merciful to them in their time of need, just as God is merciful to you in your need for his forgiveness and help. What is the enemy of generosity?  It's greed, the excessive desire for personal security.  True generosity does not impoverish the giver, but enriches him a hundredfold!   Generosity expands the soul; greed contracts it.  God is generous and superabundant in lavishing his gifts upon us.  We can never outgive God in what he has already given to us. Do you know the joy and freedom of generosity and liberality in giving to others what God has so richly given to you?

Jesus concludes his parable with a lesson on what controls or rules our lives.  Who is the master (or ruler) in charge of your life?  Our "master" is that which governs our thought-life, shapes our ideals, controls the desires of the heart and the values we choose to live by.  We can be ruled by many different things -- the love of money or possessions, the power of position, the glamor of wealth and prestige, the driving force of unruly passions and addictions. Ultimately the choice boils down to two: God and "mammon".  What is mammon?  "Mammon" stands for "material wealth or possessions" or whatever tends to "control our appetites and desires".  There is one Master alone who has the power to set us free from the slavery of sin and addiction.  That Master is the Lord Jesus Christ.

God loves generosity and he gives liberally to those who share his gifts with others.  The Pharisees, however, had no room in their hearts for God.  The gospel says they were lovers of money. Love of money and wealth crowd out love of God and love of neighbor.  Jesus makes clear that our hearts must either be possessed by God's love or the heart will be possessed by the love of something else. What does your heart most treasure?

"Lord, may the fire of your love burn in my heart that I may be wholly devoted to you above all else.  Free me from greed and attachment to material things that I may be generous in using the gifts and resources you give me for your glory and for the good of my neighbor."

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 (c) 1999 Don Schwager