By Rev. Phillip Leo, Church Communications Director
“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Luke 16:9, NIV)
Who doesn’t like a little swag? “Ooh, a foam can cooler,” you squeal -- except you don’t actually use them.
I’ve always been amazed at how millionaire movie stars swoon over the swag bag at the Academy Awards. But then I read about how much swag the nominees receive!
In 2016, the Oscars swag bag was valued at $230,000 and had 56 items including a twelve night Tanzanian vacation for two, a six night stay at the Koloa Landing Resort in Kauai, a year’s supply of Healing Saint products and a levitating Bluetooth speaker.
I know. Crazy.
Each item in the swag bag is donated, and participating companies pay a $4,000 promotional fee or more to have their products included. But the opportunity is golden because a simple tweet or post from a celebrity endorsing a product sends sales skyrocketing.
This isn’t splitting the atom. It’s just trinkets influencing people. Simple stuff.
Except Jesus says, “People of the light don’t get this.” (v. 9)
Come again, Jesus? You’re pushing swag? To influence people? A bit unseemly, wouldn’t you say?
According to Jesus, it depends on your opinion of worldly swag. No matter how shiny the treasure, it’s still a dead end. Worldly wealth doesn’t translate into life eternal anyways, so why not use it to influence people for the Kingdom?
“So, yeah,” Jesus says. “Go ahead and use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves.” (v. 9)
If you’re still scratching your head, it helps to hear the story Jesus tells right before he says this. It’s about a savvy manager who lands on his feet after he gets fired by slashing the bills of his boss’ creditors. Not only would this brilliance result in dozens of strong job prospects, but his old boss would be left smelling like roses!
Jesus’ point is there’s a savvy use for worldly swag which results in eternal impact and grows God’s fame.
Jesus even says the dishonest steward is the one who remains star-struck by this world’s shiny objects and is unable to leverage them for eternity. But the trustworthy steward sees worldly swag for what it is, and he finds ways to leverage it for one Kingdom win after another.
This is how it goes when it comes to worldly swag, says Jesus.
The only question He has for you is, “Do you get it?”
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Rev. Phillip Leo is the Church Communications Director at Barnabas Foundation. Read Phil's online bio.