There is something difficult about Luke 16:1-13. Jesus uses a “shrewd”, read deceitful at least, manager to invite the “sons of light”, read good guys, to consider shrewdness as something they should go in for.
To my mind the difficulties culminate and then resolve with 13:9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves [sons of light] by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.”
Jesus goes on to give two more general principles. I will paraphrase: 13:10-He who is faithful in little is faithful in much. This principle recommends doing well in little things as preparation for big things. 13:13-You cannot serve two masters. This principle is about unity of aim and the impossibility of applying being faithful simultaneously in earthly and unearthly matters.
The principle that I have noted could stem from what Paul says in Romans 1:20-21 which says that the invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature have been clearly visible and understandable by observing creation. Of course Paul goes on to say that failure in character (vice, sin) has led to our missing what is obviously available through creation. But, the main point is that a man doesn’t need the sacred text unless one takes the sacred text to be nature. Further support is that Jesus, in John 1, is said to be the logos of God (the deep order of reality). Application? If this is true one would expect to be able, with good character, to look out onto reality and perceive the wisdom of the divine and his governance such that one could adapt and conform readily.
And this is what Jesus is constantly doing in the Gospels. He turns to bread, water, birth, seeds, planting, harvesting, soil, sparrows, lilies, fish and much else to try and communicate the essence of the coming kingdom of God (governance of the divine).
Back to Luke 16:1-13. The “sons of light” could learn a few things from the “sons of this age”. For whatever reason it is intuitive to the “sons of this age” that they should be shrewd. It is not so to the “sons of light”. 16:9 gives the recommendation that the “sons of light” use the wealth of unrighteousnes to make friends for themselves so that they will be ultimately received into eternal dwellings. Jesus doesn’t say it, but obviously the “sons of light” would need to make friends with other “sons of light” or whoever else is in control of access to eternal dwelling. Let’s just say it is others on “our” side, the side of righteousness.
So, the big question becomes “How do I use the wealth of unrighteousness for the sake of righteousness?” More specifically, “How do I make righteousness out of unrighteousness shrewdly?” Put that way the question does not seem so out of reach. Devoted attention, calculation, may we call it prudence, regarding righteousness is to be commended to those who pursue it.
To the degree that the “son of light” comes into the wealth of unrighteousness, and having a job should accomplish that, ha ha, he will want to convert that wealth into the building strong bonds with the righteous!
And don’t be superficial. That doesn’t mean that the the righteous will be hoarding wealth among each other. No. What that means is that the “sons of light” will only use unrighteous wealth that comes into their use for righteousness sake. This will involve making the world itself more righteous, period.
For another time we can explore the details of making the world a better place. Suffice it to say that its being better has everything to do with there being less unrighteousness and more righteousness and little else.
The person who converts unrighteousness into righteousness in little things will be give more. And the person who does this with focus and a lack of distraction only having one master, righteousness, will do it well.
The passage is understood.