Sometimes I discover connections between Scriptures that really engage me in thinking more deeply and hearing God’s voice in a fresh way. This happened the other day as I read 2 parables from Luke 16.
The First Parable (Luke 16:1-13): This is a story about a boss and his employee. His employee was going to be fired for cause. But before he was, he cut the debts of his boss’s debtors. He figured, he would need friends when he lost his position and so he did what he could to make them. After all, these were the ones who could help him when he was without a paycheck. The boss was impressed with his creativity. Luke 16:8-9 “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 eternal dwellings.”
It seems weird that Jesus would affirm this kind of action. And the lesson seems a little hard to apply until we see the next story.
Second Parable (Luke 16:19-31): This second story is about a rich man who had little regard for a poor man. In the end, we see the poor man had better standing in the afterlife. Luke 16:22-27 “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side [the poor man]. ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things; and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.”
In the first parable, the man did what he could do to make friends who would be there for him when the job ran out. He was dishonest, but his shrewdness was applauded, even by the man he cheated. Jesus used the example to teach that we, who really are wealthy, should use our wealth and our opportunities to make friends with those who will be with us forever.
But who are the true forever friends? Who will be there in our afterlife? Look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This is a man who made friends with the wrong people. He was a friend of the rich and powerful. He put up with the poor man Lazarus, but he didn’t make friends with him. And in the afterlife Jesus points out that this lack of friendship left the man without encouragement in the life to come.
The Lordship of Christ calls us to make forever friends. But these forever friends are the ones that Christ came to care for – the lost and needy (see Luke 15). We tend to make friends with those people who can give something to us, or do something for us. But the gospel makes friends of those who have nothing to offer. The poor in spirit, humble, the broken, the weak, the hurting, the merciful, those hungry for the healing of God… these will be the great ones in the Kingdom of heaven. They may not have much to offer in this life. But these will be the people of influence in the world to come.
If this is the case, I need to learn to make better forever friends. It’s not natural. But it’s wise and good. How can I do this?
- Create space for people in need (time and opportunity).
- Sit at a table, have a cup of coffee with someone who is different from me.
- Listen to what their real needs are. What are their concerns, their hopes, their dreams?
- Use my resources to not only help meet needs, but to step into their lives with friendship.
- Include them in something I do.
- Ask them for help.
I would love to read your thoughts. Thanks always, for reading, commenting and sharing!