Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Good Steward Serves His Master for the Master's sake Alone, and not His own sake At All

There has been much confusion in the modern Church about what it means to serve God and not serve mammon. Good, Biblical pastors have said that the modern Church is full of people, true converts, who are trying to serve both God and mammon. What this means to try to serve both God and mammon is to on one hand, serve God, while on the other, still desire to serve oneself. This failure to understand what it means to serve both God and God alone, that is, to serve God only and not mammon, comes from the darkness that still resides in the hearts of many in the modern Church. 

A person may a true follower of Christ, but still yet have some blindness and darkness in his heart as he is still not sanctified, or sanctified enough. He may think that he can somewhat serve both God and mammon, not in his mind, but in his heart. His mind says to himself, that "of course, Jesus said no one can serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24; Luke16:13)", but his heart thinks otherwise, thinking to itself in its wickedness and deceitfulness, "I can serve God and at the same time seek my own desires for God has said He blesses those who obey Him. He will give me what I want." This is precisely the heart of many in the modern western Church. 

They pervert what it means for God to bless a person who obeys Him, into thinking it means that He will give them what they want. They may claim, or even truly think that what they want is what God wants for them, when the truth is really that what they want is for themselves, and not what is God's will for them. They may also think that when they receive some material earthly temporal "blessing" from God because they worked for it, and claim that it is because of their obedience to God that He has given it to them - all while thinking that were exercising good stewardship of what God has given to them. This is precisely what the "protest"-ant work ethic is. Do not for a moment think that if someone is a "protest"-ant , their doctrines must be right, or legitimate, simply because they are "not catholic", or "not a cult". There are many local churches who call themselves 'baptist', 'methodist', 'evangelical' or 'protestant' who are ungodly, apostate and God-hating. 

Many in the modern Church think they are a good steward of God because God has "blessed" them with all the material things they want. You may say that they genuinely believe that, and have really sought for such things for themselves so as to 'serve' God. This is precisely what the problem is. They are truly seeking these things for themselves in their heart, thinking that they 'deserve' the things God gives them, if it is even true that God has given them the material things, rather than that they sought these things themselves. Yet, in knowing that it is wrong to seek for oneself, they deceive themselves into thinking they are so doing for God, to exercise good stewardship, by perverting what stewardship means. 

The Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16:1-13 tell us what true and good stewardship is:

He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.  So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ 

 “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’

“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

What this Parable of the Unjust Steward tells us may seem to be that if one does not claim what God has given a person to be one's own to use for oneself, that person is exercising bad stewardship. This is not only a faulty interpretation, but a vile, diabolical and perverted one. The master in the story is one who is an unrighteous one, for he "unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly." (Luke 16:8). This same verse explains that the unjust steward as a son of the world, an ungodly, wicked person: "For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light".  

You may say that this parable is about how to use the possessions that one has in one's hand wisely. However, Luke 16:9-12 disproves this as Jesus explains the what He was telling:

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? 

What this means it not to seek to please others by being rich. No! He is saying that if a person is not faithful with that which even an unrighteous person can be faithful to, that is, mammon, how can a person with faithful to true, heavenly riches, as opposed to false, earthly riches. How can such a person who is not faithful to that which one is all to naturally inclined  to be faithful to, that is mammon, be faithful to true, heavenly riches? He cannot. Jesus referred to 'unrighteous mammon' as that which seeks to a make a person unrighteous, or keep his unrighteous. This is the effect that mammon has on all, that is, all people. He seeks to tempt us into being faithful to him, rather than God. 

You may say that this means that Jesus is saying that a person must be faithful to God and mammon, and thus, he must serve both God and mammon to be faithful to both, out of your perverted heart. However, what Jesus meant by being 'faithful' to unrighteous mammon is this context is to exercise stewardship over money, or possessions for one's master. He is using the illustration of how the unrighteous handle money for their master, so as to serve their master, for this self-interest and self-preservation (Luke 16:1-3), to demonstrate what it means for a follower of Christ be faithful to his master, God, not mammon. 

The unjust steward in the Parable sought to keep his stewardship by dishonest means so that he can keep his stewardship, just like how people in the modern world lie for their employer to keep their job. In the same way, the follower of Christ is to keep His stewardship for God by being just. However, unlike the unjust steward in the Parable, he is to be just in exercising stewardship for God who is his master. He is to exercise stewardship for God and God alone, not himself as the unjust steward did out of his love for mammon. He is to serve God and God alone, not treating what he has been given by his as his own. 

The unjust steward did what he did so that he could keep his own stewardship, rather than because he was trying to serve his master, and thus serving mammon. The follower of Christ on the other hand, is not to seek one's own stewardship for oneself for Jesus said: No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:13). The unjust steward was not loyal to the master because he was seeking to serve mammon.

Many in the modern Church think that they can serve both God and mammon by exercising stewardship of what God has given him, but yet at the same time, exercise that stewardship for one's own sake to satisfy one's desire. This manifests in the belief that when God gives one possessions, one is to claim that for oneself, so as to serve God. It also manifests in the belief that the material things God is  "blessing" that person in return for one's obedience to Him. 

If that is the case, why are there so many Christians around the world, such as those in the 'Third Word' countries who are much more holier and righteous than most of the western Christians, who have so little material things, and who can barely even eat? Is it because God does not bless them and care for them? Are the western Christians more blessed than their Third World counterparts because they are more "obedient" to God and more righteous? 

To even think that one is more blessed by God because one has more material things is the height of pride, and arrogance. To even think that one believes that God blesses the poor believers, but yet think that one is more blessed because God has given one more things because one is more righteous and holy is the height of hypocrisy.

Material "blessings" are just material things. They are to be used to God's sake, and not one's own sake at all. A good and just steward does not treat the material things that one has been given for one's own sake, but for his Master's sake and his Master's sake alone.