Economy in the Hope of Eternal Life. (Luke 16) - Prof. Benne Holwerda
Note about the translator: This sermon was translated by Willem Amoraal of the Free Reformed Church of Armadale Western Australia.
His email address is [email protected].
Sing: Psalm 49:1,2 Ps 49:3
Read: Luke 12:22-48
Text: Luke 16:1-12
Sing: Psalm 16:3,4,5,6 Psalm 17:7,8
Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,
What really is money, capital and possession?
Is it a matter of 'you either have it or you don't'? To possess or not to possess? Is it a matter of how much or how little you have? Or is it important how you obtain it; honestly or else dishonestly?
Jesus Christ here speaks of the Mammon! And in that word Mammon we find the same base word as we find in our word 'Amen'. You now the last catechism Lord's day: "What does the word Amen mean?" Amen means that it is true and sure.
Amen and all those other words connected with it, take us into the territory of those things that are sure and certain, things in which you can trust, all the things which give stability and certainty to our lives. That is true, isn't it? We confess according to Scripture, Jesus Christ as the Amen. That means: In Him their is stability. On Him our lives depend. In Him we possess those things which are eternally sure. Therefore believing is nothing else but taking hold of that certainty and stand on that firm foundation.
What I tell you here is not a lesson in English literature. But with this question we reach for the heart of economical questions amid all the various questions of today. The group of words to which Amen belongs, teaches us about God's imperishable faithfulness. And when people use the word this indicates our trust and our faith.
But now you suddenly understand: if the word Mammon also belongs to this group of words, then money is not just something we receive and spend, but it is a power which portrays itself as giving stability and durability, as a sort of godly foundation for our lives. And so money doesn't only demand prudence , honesty and accuracy but at the same time religious belief. And it is even a matter of faith!
That is then the economic difficulty. It is a question of faith!
And when then the house wife struggles with the finances and the businessman with his balance sheet, the government with it's budget, then every one of them - of course everyone in his own way, but everyone of them- is involved with a godly power which demands faith from us.
Because of that, to us, who believe in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is a matter of life or death what we do with this money. For what exactly is Christian economy?
Jesus Christ declares it to us in our text:
The economy in the hope of eternal life.
For does He not teach us that we should:
1 Be faithful in the temporal matters in the context of the expectation of the lasting things.
2 Be faithful in the least things in the context of our expectation of the major matters.
3 Be faithful in administering an other's goods in the context of our expectation of our own goods.
1 Before I start with my text, I need to make some comments about the preceding chapter.
Because a beautiful connection exists between Luke chapter 15 and 16. Luke 15 contains 3 parables and all three of them speak about lost matters: the lost sheep, the lost penny and the prodigal son.
Have you ever given it a thought why he was called the prodigal son? What exactly was his sin?
Nowadays we are used to calling anyone who drifts away, a ‘lost son’. Regardless of whether he turns his back on the church or became an immoral man or in some other way has left the narrow path. And you can call him lost then. For this parable contains a gospel for anyone who, for whatever reason, has become estranged from the Fathers house.
Yet it may not escape us that also this parable transfers us to the economy of life. For indeed, the young man demanded of his father the portion of the inheritance which was rightly his.; his share of the capital. And then he disappeared and started partying. He wasted the possessions of his father. His older brother later on, can rightfully say: he has spent your goods with the harlots.
And you will know the rest of the story. When he has eventually become bankrupt and only has the prospect of a miserable death by hunger, he suddenly recalls the parental home. How good it was there! He had been pretty well off there. Even the casual workers had abundance with his father. And he, the son, was about to die here from hunger.
Then he says to himself: I am going back to my father. I will not be able to look him straight in the eye. Neither do I deserve the place of a son any longer. But I will tell him that from now on I could be a casual worker. I will tell him that I do not lay claim anymore to being his child. It would be fine if he appointed a place for me among his workers. As long as I can be with father again! And receive food from him!
And when he is still a fair way from home, his father has already spotted him. The old man was on the look-out; his heart yearned for his child which went wrong but still remained his child. And the father goes out to meet him and embraces his lost son; celebrations are made because he is home again.
Because of that conclusion of Luke 15, the whole of life's economy is put in the light of the forgiveness of sins.
Forgiveness of sins also means this: I have squandered all my Father's goods, I took his gold, his grain which He made to grow, the riches which where really His riches, and I just lived it up. But I came to a dead end in this life, I got myself in a jamb and also financially I found myself in a mess and in misery. But, not knowing what else to do, I returned to Father. And I was welcome with Him. For with Him there is forgiveness!
Nevertheless there was a lot of truth in the comments of the eldest son who was annoyed about this forgiveness.
It was all too easy according to him. He could not stand it that Father prepared a feast when the youngest son came home again, washed up and burned out, without a penny to his name. Had not that squanderer quite a lot of Father's treasures? And now he would immediately take his place again at the table as Father's child! Next to the oldest son who had always been careful and prudent?
But then Jesus says it so beautifully here.
The Father does not avoid the protest of his oldest son. He says: you ought to be happy for, your brother was dead but is alive again, he was lost but has been found again.
There you have the Father: willing and able to forgive. There is nothing that can stop that forgiveness. Not even a protest from someone who had always behaved good and proper and never squandered a cent. Nothing impedes the Father to prove the power of forgiveness.
There is not one condition set before he grants forgiveness.
Yet there is a condition attached to this forgiveness.
With God forgiveness is not given only after one fears and turns to Him.
But He does grant forgiveness so that He will be feared and served.
So the youngest son was allowed to come home again and all was well again. The Father was very glad indeed that he was around again. But then things were taken seriously too. The Father is not indifferent to what his children do with His goods in this world.
For Jesus now straight away follows up with another parable namely the one about the unjust steward.
You know the story. A rich landlord, one who has so many possessions that he could no longer keep an eye on them by himself. And for that reason he appointed someone to be steward. In other words, a man who had to oversee all the property as well as it's administration. This person then was given a position of great trust and a great deal of responsibility.
But he apparently is not worthy of this trust. For it appears that a complaint is brought to his master about the stewards dealings. This steward squanders his masters goods. He falsifies the books and uses the profits to his own advantage.
Have you noticed? This steward squanders his masters goods! Exactly the same sin which also the youngest son of a minute ago had committed. The same material sin!
Yes indeed, material sin. For the word which in Greek is used for steward is: economist. This master had an economist, the text reads. But he fiddled. He was a fraud.
Therefore he receives his resignation. He is called upon to explain himself. He is immediately told that he can no longer have his job. Furthermore the master demands to check the books. For he has to of course hand over the papers and documents which are in his possession; he had to hand over the kitty and the debtors receipts.
So it is the sacked steward which we are faced with here. The man who is still left some time to finish up some affairs. After that he will be out on the street. And then what? That bothers the man of course; where is he to go to before long? Digging he cannot do. He cannot hire himself out on a farm where they will give him a shovel to work with. What then? Begging? But that would hurt his pride too much.
He is becoming desperate. He is stuck and has no where to go. In a short while he will be alone in this world, without work, without bread. Avoided by everyone for isn't he the swindler ?
And then suddenly he has a bright idea. He may have been sacked but at this moment he still has control of the paperwork. Today he can still make his move. He summons everyone who is indebted to his master.
How much do you owe my lord? One hundred barrels of oil? Here is your IOU. Quickly exchange it for another one and write fifty barrels on it.
And you? A hundred bags of wheat? You know what? Let's make it eighty!
And so he works his way through the whole lot.
You may well say: but that is blatant fraud isn't it? Fiddling the books and that on a large scale? Yes you are right.
Yet when his master hears about it he expresses his admiration for this man. No matter what you have to say about this steward, he is very cunning.
And Jesus agrees with the praise of this master for his steward. No, of course not because of his fiddling. But because he was so cunning.
This man obliged the people to himself. He was faced with the problem that soon he had no where to go. Nobody would even greet him anymore, nobody would open their door to him. I will be an outcast. And he understands very well that you can not make it on your own in this life. You need contacts. People who will help and where you are welcome.
And from that point of view his last deeds as a steward was his wisest. The way in which he did it was wrong. But he made those people indebted to himself. All of those debtors he gave a considerable relief of their debts. And of course I scratch your back and you scratch mine. Today he is doing them a favour and tomorrow they can return the favour to him. Later on he can knock on their door and they will not be able to keep him out. For isn't he their benefactor? They will ask him to come inside and to stay there for a while.
Without a doubt this man was bad. But he did keep an eye on his future. Whatever you may say about him, he certainly was not short sighted! Today through his manipulations he ensured that that he had himself a circle of friends where later on he would be welcome. Now he looked after his neighbour so that later on his neighbour would look after him.
Christ says: such are the children of this world. Careful in their generation. That is: cunning and shrewd towards their likes. They have an eye on the future. They create relationships because they do not only think of today but also of tomorrow. And in all their dealings they show that they need the others. Therefore today they give themselves so that tomorrow they can receive.
Is it not the same with us, beloved? A businessman is prepared to make a loss today if he is convinced that that next year he will be making a profit. I myself do not know too much about that as you will understand. But I have understood this: they incur quite some expenses in doing business. They spend lots of money in creating relationships and building friendships. Eventually these expenses bring a return again.
How was it during the war years? Many businesses had nothing to do. Stocks and supplies had vanished. And yet the directors visited their clientele and did what they could for them. Later on, after the war they would again be dependent on those relationships.
A businessman who tries to save his pennies in this respect may as well close down. He is short sighted. All he does is consider his savings of today but neglects to realise how much he could have earned in the future by making these expenses.
In this respect the 'children of light' can still learn a lot from them. The 'children of light' as you will understand from the contrast with the 'children of the world', makes you think here about church people. You think then of those whom the Lord has placed in the light of His mercy and the radiant glory of his forgiveness. Are not those church people often shortsighted and narrow minded? They are by far not so smart in their generation. They do not put much effort into making relationships and the maintenance of relations with their brothers in the church.
In the world they realise that they cannot survive by themselves. I have a whole generation around me. And I am reliant of my fellow men. Therefore they create a circle of people around themselves. Today that may cost them a bit but tomorrow it will profit them.
But within the church? No, there they do not create a communion. They maintain the relationships very little.
That is why they are so often on their own. Later on in heaven they all hope to be together. But so often you notice so dreadfully little of that in this life here on earth. How easily does one shrug off the worries of another. How often do we not say: that is his problem! So often there is this devouring individualism! To say it in the words of Paul: the eye says of the hand: I have no need of you. All of them live by the mercies of the Father. But how often don't we ignore our bothers? It is as if religion is something between God and the soul. Others do not come into the picture and have nothing to do with it. And often these people do not even spare a moments thought for the fact that God has put them in the communion of His people to give brotherly love and where applicable also to receive again this communion from the household of God!
You will understand then beloved that Christ does not praise that man for his fiddling or his egoistic motives which stimulated him. He committed fraud and that remains bad. And when he develops relationships he does not do that out of love for the others but only because he cleverly calculated that he so furthers his self interests.
But despite all of that he does realise that he is not an individual but that he needs others just as they need him. He has a long-term goal: his attitude today is ruled by his consideration of the future when he will need others.
And the point of comparison then is this: in doing business, the believer too has to take the future into account. That means to always maintain the ties which God has made within the church by giving yourself. Later on, for everyone the time will come when each in turn will have need to receive from his brothers.
The Christian who only thinks of him or herself and does not love the brotherhood, can not expect eternal life. That is, someone who in his business and factory places himself outside of his generation, outside of the communion of saints, can not expect eternal life. If today this person ignores the church community then at the time of his death none of the saints will welcome him into the eternal tabernacles.
God will say to him: go away you worker of iniquity; I do not know you. And the souls of the saints will say: we have never seen him before. There will be nobody who at the time of this man's death when all things will fall away from him, wants to receive him into the eternal habitations. Because he did not recognise God here below and did not show to know his brothers, in heaven above later on, all will deny to have known this man. The heavenly dwellings will remain shut for him.
That is then the crux here: maintain the church relationships, practice the communion of saints also in the material things of this life. Otherwise the glory of this communion will also remain closed to you.
Know your brothers and love them, with your money and your goods, in your business and offices.
Therefore Jesus says: I too tell you: make yourselves friends with the unrighteous Mammon. That of course does not mean that you can do as you like and make your friends in an dishonest and corrupt way. By way of bribery and fraud, cunning and deceit. Rather manage your money in such a way that you always think of the brotherhood and always serve the communion of saints with that money.
Yes indeed, Jesus does express Himself here in a remarkable way when He speaks about the 'unrighteous' Mammon. Is the money in it self sinful? And can nobody be honest in doing business?
But no, fortunately there are people who make an honest living and also spend their income in a proper way.
But what Jesus means here is that one is connected to the other. The worker is a link in the business of his employer, and he in return is interconnected with his clients and college's and together they are citizens in the one country: and then again their whole economy is closely determined by the position their country takes up in the world because the national economy is again dependent of the international situation.
Everyone receives some of the money in this world but it continually changes hands; money is spent and there is constant movement. And now looking at the big picture, this money market is in itself a force in this world! A god!
Today we no longer live in the world as it was in paradise when the Lord created it. The ruler of this world has stretched out his hand to all created things and all those things now lay under the power of the devil, also the economy. This world economy as it operates today, depraved from the love toward God and the neighbour, is the unrighteous Mammon. The whole money market, you will be quite aware, does not let itself be ruled by God but it is rather a world of unrighteousness. Everything seems to be ruled by fraud and corruption, by theft and self interest, by greed and crime, by exploitation and malingering.
And if then I make an honest living, then that money is in itself not sinful. Yet all the money that comes through my hands is still a part of this Mammon who is adored by the whole world. The bank notes are not just much handled by the people, but the notes have also been grimed by the injustice of mankind.
Should I then not except it and throw it away as being the dregs of this world?
No says Jesus. The part of that unrighteous Mammon, that idol, which passed through your hands, do not hog it so that you turn it into a house idol which you adore and kneel before. Do not put your trust in that, but in Him to whom it all belongs. No matter how much injustice may have already been committed with those bank notes before you received them, you are to go and work with it according to the commandment of your Father and not according to the style of Mammon.
The money is not bad in itself, for the world is the Lord's and it's fullness. No the money is not bad because the gold, the silver and the cattle on a thousand hillsides are the Lord's. All God created is good.
But do not forget now that on the flip side of the coin, all created things are under the spell of the ruler of this world. Neither forget that with that money and because of that money a world of injustice is committed every day.
Part of the money as it is used in this world today, comes through your hands. Withdraw this from the service of Mammon and use it according to the will of your heavenly Father. Do not adore it as an idol, but use it as a created thing. How to use it? Well, with it make friends in your generation. With it build up the communion of saints as is right before your God. Build up the church, serve the brothers. And do so with an eye on the future.
For today you spend it because the love toward the Father and His children drives you. It has only been in your hands for a short time and then it was passed on again for the benefit of the brotherhood. Is it then thrown away? Something of no benefit to you?
Would you not have been better of to set it aside for your own day of retirement? You may have use for it yourself in the future?
That is true. But when your own bad days come, when the day comes that everything falls away from you, and you find yourself all alone and you are going to die, then that money is of no use to you. In death you can not take it with you. But at that time you will be most helped by your brothers and sisters. Is it not a great and marvelous thing that the Father will receive you up there into His eternal tabernacles? Is it not a marvel that your brothers and sisters will welcome you because they are glad to meet you there and welcome you home?
What then is the meaning of money? Make yourself friends with the unrighteous Mammon so that later on people will welcome you into the eternal tabernacles.
Oh no, that is not fanning self interest. Neither is it an exhortation to do good works to earn your salvation.
Because these things were said after Luke 15. After the prodigal son came home and was enveloped by the light of forgiveness.
God has made me a child of light out of mere grace. I too have messed it all up. I have taken part in wasting the Father's goods, spending them in my own way, in the service of the unrighteous Mammon. I brought myself to the edge of destruction.
But when I became homesick for the Father, but did not really dared to face Him again, then He saw me from afar off already for with Him there is forgiveness. And He just placed me among my own generation again. He gave me a place among the sons of the same house.
I believe in forgiveness of sin. I believe that I am taken up in the communion of saints through the forgiving grace.
But on the other side: I still hope for life eternal, I am not there yet. I have not yet arrived at my eternal destination.
I am still standing between the forgiveness of sins yesterday and life eternal later. I am still standing between the initial, earthly church communion here and the multitude which cannot be numbered in the new Jerusalem above.
And that is how I have to do my business and use my money: as a child of light, controlled by the forgiveness of sins which lays behind me, but which is also extended into eternal life which still awaits me.
I have to handle money as part of the generation of God's children because, in His mercy, He has put me there: I believe in the communion of saints. I have to handle the money, on my way to the multitudes that can not be numbered, hoping for the great wedding feast.
And because every dollar I earn is received as I am on the road of forgiveness of sins toward life eternal, I therefore have to take hold of that communion with every dollar I have. Because every week I earn my wages, receive them and spend them not as an isolated individual but amidst the church community of today and at the same time living toward the wider community later.
Because Mammon will let me down. He will desert me when I am about to die later and eventually when Mammon itself will be destroyed forever. Mammon is no god, he is not eternal. But the heavenly Father remains forever and His house is the city which has foundations, where all children shout for joy forever more.
Mammon will fade away but the church community remains. Therefore never offer up your brother to Mammon but rather spend willingly and joyfully Mammon in the service to the brotherhood.
Do you expect the city which has foundations? Do you desire to stand among the 144,000 later on? Do you want to praise God amidst great throngs one day? Take hold of that throng now already also with your money. Later on that throng will take hold of you when everything else starts falling away.
Therefore be diligent in the use of the temporal things so that the real things, the eternal, will be entrusted to you. If you fasten yourself to Mammon, who is temporal, and follow him at the cost of the church community, ignoring the brothers, how could the Father ever give you the real thing? How could He ever place your feet on the streets of gold later on in the new Jerusalem, whereas here among the community of Jerusalem's citizens you have never served them with that gold?
Who then is a Christian in his economy? It is him who believes in the forgiveness of sins and knows that in that context he is put in the communion of saints. He who hopes for the city which has foundations and was taught to sing: I praise You in a great throng. (???) Only he who can already see the gates beset with pearls when he opens his wallet, only he is not shortsighted in his economy.
O yes indeed, we know that money will fade away. We have moments that we even sing about it: we zien dat hun in't sterven niets kan baten, maar dat ze 't al aan anderen overlaten." Want hij zal niets in 't sterven met zich dragen, zijn naam, zijn roem 't ligh al teneer geslagen.
We know it don't we, the new Jerusalem remains and Mammon won't.
But do you know what is so sad now? Time and again we detach the present from the future. We have two worlds: one above for later on, and the world here for now. And then the money matters have nothing to do with our entrance into eternal happiness.
We want to be ready have the best of both worlds. For later on we desire eternal life and hope for it. But as far as the here and now is concerned, we have to be 'economical'. We say then: doing business is not a matter of philanthropy. Down here only economic laws apply; work hard, be careful how you spend your money and be honest. But what about faith and love? Of the profits made I may donate something for a good purpose. But that doing business should be done out of love, we often do not understand.
And if you then hear the people around you speak together, and give their economic views as they see them, then the terrible thing that stands out is that it is all portrayed as something of this world, so the world to come does not even enter into the picture. People have an eye for many and a diversity of influences: our country is impoverished by war and re-armament will cost millions of dollars; the industry is only slowly picking up again and trade with some close neighbours is out of the question. People mention all sorts of things: slowly rebuilding, a stimulated economy, a great many public servants, heavy taxes and a dollar which is not worth much anymore.
But beloved, where do we stand today from an economic point of view? Are we bankrupt? In chaos? Apart from this economy we stand in the forgiveness of sins! Despite all this we are the children of the Father! We stand with our economy in the church, that generation of God's children. Are we standing in darkness? But with all the bank note which we have received, and especially those which we spend, we are with all that children of light! The war does not change any of that!
And where are we traveling to? Towards bankruptcy? Towards unemployment? Towards impoverishment? But are we not economically also on the way to eternal life? For also today we have the joyous prospect that we will be set among the congregation of the elect in life eternal, without spot or blemish. Should we look into the near future with all its threats and dark shadows? We should look into that most distant future: the everlasting tabernacles!
Then life today receives its shine again even amidst all its worries! I do not disregard those worries. But the first thing I can say is: despite my many sins, I am welcome with my Father! And the last word is not to my worries for I sing: O joyous future that awaits me! I can now already see the welcoming gesture of the house, not made with hands, ,but made in the eternal heavens!
The sighing in the burdened families will come to an end. Then there is no longer the daily conversation about the bill of the butcher yesterday and the shoes that had to be bought today. Then everything will be bath in the light of the forgiveness of sins.
Then the businessman no longer says that business is rather hopeless nowadays because of bureaucracy and the many regulation put on him, no he would see in his office, amid all the worries, the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God.
It is a miracle that we who are also responsible for the poverty and chaos of this time, may know ourselves to be children of the Father and we may go to Him with the prayer: give us this day our daily bread Father. For we are not hirelings but indeed Your children, aren't we? And even in these days of uncertainty we know it don't we, that in heaven there is a place prepared for us?
Can money no longer benefit me while I am dying? It is not true. For then it will pay the highest dividends. The things I have done with my money and my business will then benefit me most. The eternal tabernacles will open themselves!
When you pick up a paper and read through the advertisements, you notice also the birth notices. And there are also the death notices. What a blessing when it may be said: passed away in the hope of eternal life! But why do we not find that in the business announcements? And even when it does not mention it with so many words, why is it not in the back of our heads that we by and sell in the expectation of the eternal tabernacles? For the time is short!
Everyone who can only think of the loss of property (the colonies of the Indies) or the exchange rates or taxes, is short sighted. Only that person is an economist who in all these things expects life everlasting and therefore loves his brother in everything, hanging on to the church.
2 And notice well that Christ mentions the same thing in a somewhat different aspect. He does not portray Mammon only as a fleeting power which caves in under the pressure of the true and eternal tabernacles, but He also puts this contrast: being faithful in the smallest and being faithful in the important things.
So Mammon is not just fleeting and temporal, in contrast with the tabernacles of heaven which will stand forever. But it is also the least , the very least and smallest over against the great and wonderful things which await us up in heaven.
That then is again the same exhortation: that we should see and use the money we have with an eye on the new world to come.
For we do indeed believe in life eternal but we time and again sperate it from the things of this life. And when we think of the new City where life will be lived forever, then the heavenly treasures fill our hearts with gladness. But a moment later we have to again busy ourselves with the things of this earth. And in this world we do however find money to be an all controlling factor. For today it still comes down to it that we earn enough and can make do with our earnings.
Yet Christ says: Money today is the least, the very least and the most unimportant.
You know that nowadays many speak about the value of the dollar. About the value our dollar has compared to the foreign currencies and so on. And everyone knows that that value has significantly decreased ever since WWII. Much is done to make our currency increase again in value.
I do not speak wrong of that that. As long as you remember that money always has a very low value in the eyes of God! For money takes up the lowest position. The dollar has never meant much to God, not now not even before the war.
Christ here speaks about 'the least.' That means then that we must rank money as the lowest thing possible in our lives. Money is the least important. But then with the understanding that we do our utmost to be faithful in this least important matter.
For Christ does not know two worlds like we do, which are far removed from one another and both having great individual value. He sees the life to come as an extension of this current life. He therefore does not compare money with other values of today but with the treasures of the future and the everlasting joys of heaven. He does not compare the dollar with other currency, or money with power or honour. But He compares it with the great and important things that await us above.
And now He says: be faithful with that which is least of all, else you will not be faithful in the greater things either. Therefore make your money subject to the greater things and use your money to obtain the greater things.
You may well know that every now and then we have those moods where we see again how relatively unimportant money is. When we see how in just a few years of war enormous amounts of money have vapourised and how the war turned an effluent country like ours into a bankrupt one, then we say: possessions mean very little really don’t they? If we see a rich person suddenly pass away, well then it hits home again with us how relative the worth of money really is. We say then: Why do we really make ourselves so busy?
But if you then do not discover more then just that money is really not so important, you will enter into a great temptation. Namely this one: that you say that it doesn’t matter so much what you do with your money. For it is unimportant really isn’t it?
But that is completely wrong! Christ does indeed say that money in itself is unimportant. But the faithfulness concerning your dealings with money is decisive! For he who is faithful in the little things is also faithful in the bigger things. And he who is unjust in money matters and who plays with God’s laws, he will also do that in the most important things. To him the Lord can never entrust His most important goods!
So He does not make us careless and indifferent but He teaches us to walk with care. For the most important decisions are made in the smallest of things.
Beloved, how much I would that within the church we again start to understand these things. How we choose and deal with matters in life is not decided by the value and importance of things, meaning that you would be more careful with the more important things but are more nonchalant with the lesser matters. For exactly the way you deal with the smallest of things shows your attitude toward the major matters. If the love toward God and the neighbour is not the motivator and drive behind your financial dealings, then that same love will also be lacking where the most important things are concerned.
Just an example: How many people during the church struggles in the 1940’s did not say: we would liberate ourselves if more important matters were at stake. If the Godhead of Christ was disputed or the meaning of His cross. But now that we are dealing with such ‘small’ matters such as the meaning of baptism, they did not regard those matters as worthy of such struggles.
Many spoke like that and did like that. Even if it were true that baptism was only a ‘small’ thing- though he truly believes can never say that!- even then these people give themselves over to an illusion.
Those who do not take the small things seriously and then does not see the need to be faithful in them, cannot be faithful in the bigger struggles either.
And then we have to learn to understand again that the greatness of the matter is not important but the faithfulness is decisive. And that shows up in the very smallest of matters! Money is insignificant but exactly because it is so insignificant, it becomes so important what you are going to do with it! If you are going to be faithful with it! That is to say; if you are going to serve God with it and bless your neighbour! That is why the Scriptures say that a lover of money will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The fraud will not be saved and the squanderer won’t either. Not the selfish person and neither the tax evader. Not the employer who holds back on fair wages, neither the employee who is lazy.
Is that because money is very important after all? O no, but because the Father makes the biggest decisions over the smallest of matters! Do you really think that He would give you the major things if you are unfaithful with the little things?
You say: who can then be saved! Indeed, that is how it is! With men that is impossible, but with God all things are possible. He embraces the lost son who had wasted the money. And he receives from the Father a purse again but says to the son: what is in it is not all that important. But what you are going to do with it makes all the difference. It affects your entrance in the eternal tabernacles and your promise of my greatest riches!
3 Once more the matter is brought up but again from a different angle.
If you have not been faithful with someone else’s goods, who then will give you your own? Because everything that is called money or has monetary value,- raw materials, manufactured goods, food and clothing- all these items affecting the economy, are not ours but someone else’s. They are God’s! For the earth is the Lord’s and its fullness! I am not an owner here. And we shouldn’t really be speaking about 'private property' either. For we are all stewards who are taking care of the goods of Another namely the Father!
Therefore this too has to be foremost in our thinking: not only that money is a temporary thing, not only that in comparison with the eternal treasurers money is insignificant, but also that it does not belong to us but to Another!
If we then as stewards are not faithful with the goods of the Father, God will never grant us our own. For those treasurers of eternal life, they will then be our possessions! The new heaven and the new earth, the streets of gold and the glittering precious stones above, it will all be ours. Sure we do receive it our of grace. But then the sons will no longer be stewards but heirs. The sons will then live forever in His house and it is all given into their possession.
Now therefore this admonition becomes such a weighty one. It tells us that if I as a steward have been shown to be unreliable how could the Father then appoint me as heir?
So those two things are again intertwined: the money and the eternal joy. For he who did not want to be faithful steward of the one, will not be an heir of the other!
Beloved, the decision about later on is made here and now. And in money matters I will only be able to make proper decisions if the expectation of the life to come drives me!
This is the a b c of the Christian economy: I believe in life everlasting! To us this is so often only an article in the confessions, one that comes in at the end like a lame horse. We may often regard it an article for the old, the sick and the dying. But it is in the first place and article for the living who have money in their control. With those temporal things, which have the least value of all and which are Gods property, I can only then work properly with them if I believe in the forgiveness of sins and also with eagerly long for the life everlasting.
What do I need to deal with the questions of everyday? The burning faith that I will inherit the treasurers which no eye has seen, no ear has heard of and no heart has conceived, but treasurers which the Father has prepared for those who love Him also in financial dealings! If that faith does not drive us, all economy becomes sin and Mammon service, no matter how honest we are!
In this world I cannot deal justly and act justly unless done so out of faith in the world to come.
What is Christian economy? A separate system? A different method? O no it is a matter of faithfully being busy with these things. It is not theoretical or an ideal society. But it is a matter of doing all things with the face turned toward the city of God which has foundations.
That is how much impact the faith in the life hereafter has on the economy of today. For your faith decides over your wallet as often as you take it into your hand to either receive or to spend. But then every time again, your wallet decides your salvation.