Luke 16:11, The Unrighteousness of Money

Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

//Mammon means money, and this is Jesus speaking, calling money unrighteous.

What’s wrong with money? It’s a good question. So reliant are we upon money that we can’t imagine Jesus preaching against it. We take that verse in Timothy about the love of money being the root of all evil, and overemphasize the words “love of;” thus it’s not money that’s evil, but our love of it that’s evil. I guess it’s fine if you have money, so long as you hate it, eh?

Like so many other teachings, this one just doesn’t make much sense unless you read it in the context of first-century Jewry. In a society skilled in surviving by the barter system, money had limited purpose. It was used to pay taxes, tolls, and tribute. It served as propaganda, being stamped with the image of the emperor—a horrid thing to devout Jews, who were taught that graven images were wrong. When Jesus was asked whether it was proper to pay tribute to Caesar, notice that he didn’t even have a coin on him … he had to ask for one. Judas, who was asked to carry the money bag for Jesus’ entourage, wasn’t being given a place of prominence … he was given a necessary evil.

In this light, you can see how most every connotation of money to urban Jews was negative. It represented political and religious control, in direct contrast to the prophets’ dream of a world where everyone shared in God’s earth and had plenty to eat and drink.

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