Hello again, friends; Welcome back to St Enoch's Pulpit. As you can see, we've returned to the "Money Questions" series.
So: We've established that the offspring of the system of Mammon are better at working their system than we are. (All together now: "Well, Duh!")
We've also established that there is more to it than that. The "Mammonites" are better at working their system than we are at working our system. ("Huh?" or "Say What?")
And that, we've established, or at least that was what I was going for, is the problem. We, the children of light, didn't know we had a system! How are we going to succeed in God's financial system if we don't know that such a system exists?
"...and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous." (Prov. 13:22b NKJV)
There is a Word from God Himself, giving us in no uncertain terms His intentions where finances are concerned. Read those words over again. Do you see that it is not His will that the World have all the wealth? Is it not obvious that the wealth the World accumulates is supposed to be transferred to "the just?" So why isn't that happening? What stops us from partaking in the transfer of wealth from Mammon to the Kingdom of Light?
Once again, it is ignorance of God's financial system. We've mentioned before the so-called "lottery curse," whereby many who win huge jackpots very quickly find their lives and fortunes heading straight down the drain. If you were wondering, that's why God doesn't just answer our carnal prayers and dump tons of cash in our laps. He isn't interested in giving us yet another excuse to go to hell. The vast majority of Christians in this country just aren't ready for that kind of pressure.
What we need is a combination of education and attitude adjustment. First, we need some solid teaching on what God's financial system is and how it operates. The days are past when God "winked at ignorance;" He demands of us serious financial repentance if our circumstances are going to change. Second, we need to shuck off the old poverty, or victim, mentality. It is high time for the children of light to stand up and begin acting like the children of light, not like some orphans pressing our noses against the World's window, watching the Mammonites making and spending money, and feeling like our Christianity was a financial disadvantage. If God has declared that we should be the head and not the tail, why oh why, fellow pilgrim, are we so ready to settle for being the tail?
If, as I contend, we are in the shape we're in primarily because of ignorance, then the question remains to be answered: Ignorance of what? How to make the money? How to transfer the wealth of the World into the hands of the just? No, or not yet. First we must deal with something else.
Our problem is, indeed, ignorance. We have always, it seems, been ignorant of just how suseptable we are to the power of wealth. And it doesn't take a lottery jackpot, either. We've all heard stories about how just a small amount of money has ruined ordinary people like you and me. An insurance policy or a piece of real estate will do the trick. The detective novels and television police dramas are full of that kind of thing. Truly, if we're going to be the head and not the tail financially, we're going to have to be "dead to the power of wealth."
As we wrap it up for this installment, let me leave you with one more verse of Scripture to ponder until next time:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8: 9 NKJV)
We'll take a good look at that verse, and some others, and discuss the concepts of financial freedom in the context of Christianity when next we meet. In the meantime, that's the word for now from the Pulpit. Hasta la vista, baby.
BTW, don't forget to leave comments; your feedback is always welcome.
Hello again, friends; Welcome back to St Enoch's Pulpit.
This is, as you have no doubt guessed, the second in a series of articles on the question of money in the New Testament Church. I introduced the series in the last installment, so this time, let's just jump into the deep end. Alley Oop!
"...for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." (Luke 16: 8b KJV)
We're starting just about where we left off last time, in Luke chapter 16. We used the New King James in the previous article, but as an old dinosaur, I really prefer the wording of the original. Jesus has just told the story of a dishonest steward, one who has mis-handled his master's money, and when he is found out, he continues his embezzlement in order to secure a less disastrous outcome for himself. Ironic as it may seem, his master, the victim of his dishonesty, commends him for his shrewdness. And Jesus himself adds to the irony with his assessment in the above quote.
I've spent a good deal of time over the decades (it takes time to become a dinosaur) thinking about the story of the dishonest steward; maybe (I doubt it) it would have been quicker if I had been using a more modern translation. In any case, I finally came to the conclusion that the words "in their generation" are the key to the mystery. The steward in this story is the product, the offspring, if you will, of the current economic environment. The world's system, which we like to call "Mammon," was, and still is, the prevailing system. In that system, that is, in his "generation," the steward is an expert. He knows the angles, he knows his way around. We aren't told how long he has been cheating his employer before he is caught, but apparently it has been going on for some time. Then, when his dishonesty is discovered, he continues, still at his master's expense, to work the system. He is so good at it, in fact, that his master expresses admiration for his skill.
The children of this world's system are indeed wiser in their system than the children of light. Those folks, the offspring of the Mammon system, know what they're doing, and we don't. If you or I were trying to play the game the way the experts play it, we would lose. Period. Firstly, because we don't know how the game is played, and then because of that pesky thing called morality. We can't play their game because we can't play by their rules.
For some, this gives us an opportunity to play the victim. We stand at the fence and gaze mournfully into the world's territory, wring our hands, and contemplate how we might have become wealthy or successful if only we weren't so honest. Honest people don't have a chance in this world, we say, and we believe it. Christianity is a handicap to financial success; and after all, since money is the root of all evil, we just have to wait until we get to Heaven to have really nice things...and so on and so forth.
But there's more to it than that. It isn't just that the world is playing a game in which we, the children of light, can't participate. The offspring of the system of Mammon are better at operating in their system than we are at operating in the system of light. What!? We have a system?
And that, dear reader, has been the problem all along. The children of this world are pretty shrewd at their system, while the children of light didn't even know we had a system. No wonder we've never developed any degree of shrewdness; we're losing the game because we didn't know we were supposed to be playing.
The attitude of most Christians, and this is strictly based on my own observation, seems to be that money is somehow distasteful, that our focus should be on higher things, and we shouldn't strive for worldy gain. The phrase "filthy lucre" appears in the Bible, and it colors our thinking. It never occurs to most of us that lucre can be anything but filthy.
Money is not the root of all evil; the love of money is. One of the reasons Christians have such a hard time with finances is because "love of money" is a sin you can commit without a dime in your pocket. God cannot bless us financially as long as we harbor that particular form of idolatry in our hearts, and many of us don't recognize it when we see it, even in our own lives. But that coin has at least one other side, and we must take it into account.
It is true that we cannot serve both God and Mammon. But the alternative to serving, or worshipping, money is not to ignore it, but to make it serve us. Like fire, money is a useful servant, but a dreadful master. And there, fellow pilgrim, I think we'll leave it until next time.
God has a system, one that will culminate in the financing of the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. We have made but a poor showing until now, but the time is short, and if we're going to use the tools God has designed for us to reap an end-time harvest, now is the time to get on board. We cannot afford to remain ignorant of our assignment any longer. We are going to continue in the next installment discussing God's system, and how we can participate in, but continue to remain "not of," the world's system.
For now, that's the word from the pulpit. Until next we meet, God bless and keep you.