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Who says, “You can’t take it with you?”

Who says, “You can’t take it with you?”

An elderly banker took his young grandson for a walk around the cemetery. Pausing beside one grave, the banker said, "This was an honest man. He died owing me 5,000 dollars, but he struggled to the end to pay off his debts, and if anyone has gone to heaven, he has."

They walked on and came to another grave. The granddad pointed to the engraved stone and said, "Now there's a different type of man. He owed me 6,000 dollars, and he died without ever trying to pay me back. If anyone has gone to hell, he has."

Walking on, the little boy thought for a while and eventually said, "You know, Grandpa, you are very lucky."

"Why?" asked the old man in surprise.

"Well, whichever place you go to, you'll already have some money to draw on."

That isn’t exactly how that works, but the truth is: while we can’t take it with us, we can send some money on ahead. Jesus told a puzzling parable of a manager who was about to be fired. Needing to insure that he would have favors due him after he lost his job, he quickly met with several clients who owed his company money and drastically reduced their debts. Jesus commended the manager, not for his dishonesty, but “because he had acted shrewdly” (Luke 16:8).

The takeaway point that Jesus makes for us is that we should “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (16:9).

How would we do that? Is Jesus suggesting that wealth is a good thing?

Actually, wealth is neither good nor bad. It is the “love of money” that is “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10) and Jesus was addressing his parable to “the Pharisees, who loved money” (Luke 16:14). The Bible’s instruction for those who are “rich in this present world” is not that we must divest ourselves of all wealth, but that we should “do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

If people use the money God entrusts to them that way – to benefit others, they “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age” (1 Timothy 6:19). We may not take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.


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