The Bible tells us to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. This statement holds a vast amount of wisdom within its meaning. While many saints are wise in spiritual matters, we often lack knowledge in regard to common things. There are many saints who struggle with efficiently managing their finances, many are in debt, and many are too infatuated with money altogether.
There is a compelling parable in the book of Luke 16 about the unjust steward. In this parable a rich man calls out one of his stewards to give an account on why he had wasted his goods. The rich man then tells the steward that because of his lack of good stewardship, that he would be terminating his office. The steward then begins to ponder what he will do to save himself in the long run and decides to contact each of his lord’s debtors. The unjust steward goes to each of the debtors and offers them to pay only half of the full amount they owe.
When the unjust steward’s lord finds out, he then commends the steward. Here is where things can get confusing if we don’t understand context. The rich man was not commending the intent of the unjust steward, but he was commending the wisdom behind the action. The steward figured that if he showed compassion to the debtors, that they would receive him into their homes. What the Lord says next is profound. In Luke 16:9 it reads; “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”
How are we to make friends with unrighteous riches? The Lord is saying here that with wisdom, we can take money which is of this world and unrighteous, and use it righteously to do well. When he speaks of making friends with this money, he means lending to the poor, helping those who are in need, and sowing into the ministry of the kingdom. By doing so, the friends that we make are symbolic of holiness, charity, and obedience which then shall receive us into everlasting habitation which is heaven.
The Lord tells us that the children of the world in this generation are wiser than the children of light. The word wiser in Greek is ‘phronimo’ which means practically wise or sensible. What is being conveyed is that the children of the world are more practically wise in finances and stewardship than the children of light who are more spiritually inclined. Overall, we can come to the conclusion that we can’t be trusted to oversee the better riches if we can’t efficiently manage the riches of this world.
The message isn’t to serve mammon but to serve God and apply what we know spiritually to all things. The saint who is wise as a serpent doesn’t function like one but isn’t naïve or ignorant either. We can all learn a lot from this parable in regards to being better stewards for God and His ministry.