“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.” – Luke 16:9
The common peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s an American brown bag staple. Perhaps millions are made every day with little regard to their value. In fact, most of us would call them cheap. I recently discovered, however, that Jesus sees the unsung pb&j as a form of “unrighteous wealth.”
My discovery began about a year ago with a typical drive to church. As we pulled off the exit, I saw him again – the man with the cardboard sign, asking for help of any kind. In fact, I saw several sign-holders, all holding corrugated captions, standing on each of the ramps leading to and from the freeway. My heart sank. Not only did I not have cash, but – even if I did – was a gift of cash the right thing to do? I’d been counseled by members of my own church that cash gifts could result in drug purchases or be confiscated by greedy swindlers for false gain. On the other hand, was the end use of the money really my responsibility? After all, Jesus said:
“ For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’…‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25:35-36; 40b
I had to do something. I had to welcome these souls in the name of Jesus. The idea that came to me was a brown bag lunch, complete with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water, fruit and a special treat – God’s Word. My prayer was to feed their bodies and their souls. So my brown bag drop-offs began.
Then, about a week ago, I read Luke 16:9 with fresh eyes. The term “unrighteous wealth” piqued my interest, so I studied it more deeply. I discovered that the term meant the things and money of this world. Jesus is asking us to use the worldly wealth He has provided us to befriend others in His Name and with His gospel. Then, someday, when the world passes, those new friends and I may share a heavenly dwelling.
I learned an important lesson through my encounters with those precious souls on the freeway corners. God has given me worldly possessions to use for His purposes. And the gospel must be considered in every decision I make. God showed me that there is power in the common pb&j sandwich – power for others to know Him!