It’s not just the Netflix series about corporate corruption. It’s the headline some believers apply to money.
After all, Jesus Himself said it was dirty — once, sort of, when He called money “adikia” — unrighteous, unjust, iniquitous, wrong. But this was as a postscript to His story about the shrewd money manager.
Remember this guy? After getting fired, he quickly slashed the outstanding bills of his now former employer’s customers in order to improve his chances of landing a job with one of them. (Luke 16:1-15)
Dirty money for dirty deeds.
Jesus’ used this story to highlight how shrewd worldly folks are at getting what they want with what they have. The faithful should wake up and smell the coffee.
The shrewd manager reminds me of another unholy character from one of Jesus’ stories — the good Samaritan. For Jesus’ hearers, he was a no-good scoundrel who used what he had to get what he wanted.
The twist is that what the Samaritan wanted was nothing less than the essence of God’s Kingdom — goodness and mercy.
It’s troubling to realize that the only ones who had unrighteous money from this story were the priest and Levite. Like the good Samaritan, these two men also came upon the dying man, but instead held back whatever means they had from the work of goodness and mercy. Instead, both of them chose to cross over to the other side of the road.
Let’s be clear. Dirty money can be found in the pockets of the uber-religious just as easily as it is in the pockets of the uber-irreligious.
Too hard to hear? Maybe. Unless you understand thatreal unrighteous money is any amount of wealth that’s kept from what God wants.
How do we take what we have and use it for what God wants? Try taking an inventory of your wealth and possessions to determine what might possibly be off limits to God. Any amount or thing you identify may be an obstacle for doing goodness and mercy.
What changes when we yield more of our wealth to God? Our paths increasingly cross with the weak and the suffering. Instead of crossing over to the other side of the road, we take what we have and use it to get what God wants.
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Rev. Phillip Leo is the Church Communications Director at Barnabas Foundation. Read Phil's online bio.