How Does Jesus Want Us To Handle Money?

Today's post is a guest post by Bud Brown. Bud is the president of He has served churches in a variety of settings

Jesus extolled the virtues of a slippery, self-serving money manager to teach on the wise and godly use of wealth.

Stock Broker Working At Office

The troubling teaching is recorded in Luke 16. It's the story of a wealthy patron who decided to change money managers…

When his financial secretary got wind of this, he devised a clever plan to use his client's wealth turn debtors into friends.

He skillfully used a law against loaning money at interest to his advantage. Jewish Law forbade loaning at interest. The rich dodged this by padding the amount “borrowed” when they loaned money. If you borrowed five bushels of grain to feed your family, the loan was recorded as ten bushels.

The crafty money manager instructed each of his patron's debtors to halve the amount owed.

Summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty’… The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness.

Brilliant strategy! The lender couldn't complain without admitting he'd broken the usury laws. He was trapped. But the slippery money manager “bought” friends who had his back. The rich man admired these adroit business skills.

Jesus told this story to illustrate the wise use of wealth and lay bare the timeless truth that should guide our use of all God has given us.

Verse 9 proclaims the wise use of wealth.

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

How do we use money to build a heavenly friends list? By funding the proclamation of the gospel! Give lavishly to ministries missions and evangelism. You become God's partner in drawing others into eternal life.

Wise use of wealth populates heaven with friends to share your eternal joy.

But there's more.

Verses 10-11 declare a timeless truth about real wealth.

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

God will reward your faithful stewardship of “unrighteous wealth” (earthly treasure) with true kingdom wealth!

My father often said, “No pockets in a coffin!”

You can't take it with you but you can send it ahead.

Is it time to reevaluate your investment plan to redirect a larger share to God's mission?

Bud Brown is the president of He has served churches in a variety of settings, from small rural congregations to mid-sized urban churches to one of the fastest growing megachurches in the U.S. Bud is a graduate of Dallas Seminary (Th. M., 1986) and Western Seminary (D. Min., 1995). He and his wife, Lea, live in Tucson, Arizona where Bud spends most of his days lounging by the pool in their back yard.

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  • Dan Tredo

    Oh my, what a great message from Luke 16. Thanks Bud for discerning this difficult scripture for me. That ones always been a verse where I ‘d say “Jesus – why do have to be so darn obstuse!”. I think the term ‘unrightious wealth’ or ‘worldly wealth’, or ‘unrightious mammon’ always threw me for a loop in verse 9. But reading that as a term that simply means our ‘money’ clears it all up. Use a portion of your ‘money’ on a regular basis to fund the gospel is the clear message. Thank you for that. Now the question – is that taken care of if we are faithful in our tithes (10% of gross income) and offerings (giving above and beyond according to a special need) – or is it something that goes beyond tithes and offerings?

    • I can’t speak for Bud, but I can tell you that my feeling is we should be guided by the Holy Spirit. We also give our tithes, and we give offerings as we feel prompted.

      • Dan Tredo

        Thanks Ray! Sorry to keep this thread going – but do you think tithing is something we do just when we are prompted? I’m remembering that tithing was instituted before the law was given, so maybe its still in effect today? Your thoughts?

        • I’m more of a “giving until if feels good” type of guy. In 2 Corinthians 9:6&7 Paul tells us that he rewards our generosity (I think he’s referring to kingdom rewards) and that he loves a “cheerful” giver.

          The word “cheerful” translates the NT term that also gives us the English word “hilarious.”

          So I teach people that their giving should be a source of joy. If they’re not joyful about what they’re giving then they’re likely not giving enough.

          I think Ray’s correct – we want to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance on these matters. But I also think the Spirit will lead us into obedience to scripture and not away from us.

          • Dan Tredo

            Beautiful answer Bud (and Ray). Hilarity, cheefulness, and joy in our giving should definitely be the target of living in the Kingdom. However, just for myself, I’ve found over the years that if I seek the ‘mental state’ of joy and cheerfulness first – it never caused me to become more generous. How frustrating is that! After years of grappling with this inside myself, I learned a secret to giving consistently (I’m talking strictly money here, as I know there are many forms of giving). The secret I learned is to set a target just ‘outside’ my comfort zone, and then just do it. In other words – be obedient even if it hurts a little. Then after being consistently obedient at that level, I find it becomes easier over time to experience the joy. In fact, after a while – I don’t want to ‘not do it’! When I took this approach, I gradually pushed my percentage levels upward (and always just a bit more outside my comfort zone) until I got to that all-exalted 10% of my gross income. Was it uncomfortable? Yes! Was I joyful about it, NO! At least not in the beginning. But after a while I got used to it and now its an amazing source of joy, cheefulness, and hilarity to give 10%. I don’t want to NOT do it. For me, this was a great breakthrough. Obedience first (ie, just do it) and let the joy and cheerful grow like a fruit out of that ‘doing’ over time. Emerson said ‘do the thing and you’ll have the power’. The doing must come first. My belief is that the vast majority of christians never give (or give a pittance) because they are taught to put the horse before the cart. They wait for the feeling to give before they give – which hardly ever comes. We must give when it hurts, then the feelings will follow (over time). Just some thoughts to ponder. Thanks Bud, Ray. You brothers are awesome!

          • I love the way you stretch yourself. Standing in the place where you must pray and trust God is solid ground!

            If we can do it on our own, without his help it isn’t worth doing.

    • Dan,

      Sorry I’m late to the party. I’ve been on the road for the last several days and just got online this evening.

      In answer to your question I’d suggest that Jesus’ phrase “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” and his “You cannot serve God and money” come together to form this answer: Your giving should be guided by (1) the degree to which you want to be rewarded with kingdom treasure when you enter glory and (2) your giving should be guided by the measure of your love for Him.

      We’re investing in kingdom business to fund the work of the gospel. How does that stack up against the temporary benefit of that new ______ (fill in the blank with whatever purchase you’re considering)?

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  • Kathleen Thompson

    I’m just catching up here, and read this. God must want me to hear this message, because our pastor preached about this very passage last Sunday! Thanks, Bud, for sharing this often difficult message and explaining it so well.

    Regarding tithing – I do think that it honors God greatly when we are willing to give him the first fruits, and even more. Early in my adult life, I was not making enough money to pay my bills. I was tempted to not tithe. However, I believed that if I was faithful to give God the first 10% of my income, that he would figure out a way to stretch the other 90%. And every month without fail, my bills were paid. To use Bud’s term, it was pretty “hilarious” to see the creative ways God chose to bless me.

    • Thanks for the witness, Kathleen! Some people call it “God math” because, from the human standpoint, the numbers don’t make sense. But he is faithful. We are faithful in little, and he is faithful in much!