Jesus told his disciples in Luke 16:9 to make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, so that when you fail, i.e. when you die, they may receive you into everlasting habitations! Who are the they to whom Jesus refers? Most folks believe that the ones who receive us into everlasting habitations are those we have gained for the Lord, but this doesn’t seem plausible. Consider that the one who brings another to the Lord is often older than the one who believes at his teaching or preaching. It would reasonably be expected that the older believer would go to be with the Lord before the younger. How then could the younger receive the older into everlasting habitations?
While the thought seems encouraging to say those we win to the Lord will receive us when we go to be with the Lord. Nevertheless, this understanding has little foundation in truth. Rather, the they who receive us into everlasting habitations are the they we serve as believers. They are the Father and Jesus. They receive us into everlasting habitations when our mammon (our earthly life) fails.
The friends of Luke 16:9 might then be said to be the Father and Jesus who receive us into our everlasting habitations, but, if this were true, it wouldn’t be an accurate parallel with what occurs in the Parable of the Unjust Steward. Rather, the steward made friends of the debtors to the rich man. In the context of this being a parable about the Kingdom of God, the rich man is supposed to be God and the debtors are those of us who have sinned against him. The steward made friends of them by forgiving part of the debt they owe. Jesus intends his disciples to do the similarly, but for a better reason. That is, Jesus’ disciples are to make friends through ‘forgiving the debts owed to our Father’ Consider how the meaning becomes clearer, if we take away the word friends and replace it with disciples. That is, make disciples of all nations by telling them of God’s forgiveness and willingness to receive them into everlasting habitations.
In Luke 16:10-11 Jesus spoke of being faithful or unfaithful in something that is least or much, and many have interpreted this to mean wealth. Yet, experience, itself, would show us that this understanding simply can’t be true. If one is faithful in a little gold, does it really stand as proof that he would be faithful with a great deal of gold? The fact is, this is simply another one of those thoughts that sound good, but doesn’t have much foundation in truth. Sometimes good folks who had been faithful to friends and family, while they had next to nothing in terms of material wealth, found that a great deal of wealth corrupted them and changed their behavior toward those they loved. They became more like the younger son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son who engaged in riotous living, once he came into a great deal of wealth (cf. Luke 15:12-16).
Therefore, this interpretation doesn’t seem to fit the context of what the Lord tells us in this parable. On the other hand, if we conclude that the Lord means it is the length of one’s service that doesn’t matter, that is, the one who is faithful in a short lifespan (Acts 7:59-60; 12:2) would also be faithful in a lengthy one, and visa versa as it pertains to the unfaithful servant, I think this would be closer to what the Lord intends for us to understand.
Therefore, Jesus’ command for us in the first century AD and throughout history to this very day has been to make friends for the Gospel’s sake. That is, make disciples through the forgiveness of sins made possible through the blood of our Savior, Jesus, the Christ. In doing so, not only are we promised that we shall be received into eternal life by our heavenly Father and Jesus, but Jesus makes it clear that our length of life does not matter, when it comes to the reward we shall receive. He who is faithful with a few years would be faithful with many years, so the intent of the heart is considered, rather than the length of one’s labor.