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.

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