By Eferovo Igho
“And the Lord said, who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom His lord shall make ruler over His household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom His Lord when He comes shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that He will make Him ruler over all that He has. But and if that servant say in his heart, my Lord delays His coming; and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, the Lord of that servant will come in a day when He looks not for Him and at an hour when He is not aware and will cut him in sunder and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” - Luke 12:46-47, italics are mine.
We all know the portion of the unbelievers. That is, their eternal portion. O how our stewardship here, again, is connected to the side of eternity that awaits us!
True Riches, Eternal Personal Riches!
This scripture refers both to the spiritual and the physical; our faithfulness in handling the Word of God (rightly dividing the Word of Truth) and, or in distributing the mammon of unrighteousness. In fact, it is more of the latter if taken literarily. REMEMBER LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN, for example, which story also came up in this very Luke Chapter 16! That is Luke 16:19-31. So we must not shy away from the context of Luke 16. Actually, much of Luke 16 is very critical in this subject of giving, real giving, and securing eternity: that vast future that is ahead with God.
You can see Luke 16:1-13, but we shall take it from verse 9-13: “And I say unto you; make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that WHEN YOU FAIL, THEY may RECEIVE YOU INTO EVERLASTING HABITATIONS. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
“When you fail”: Some have taken this to mean when you lack or are in want, after doing ‘wisely’ by helping others however crude the method is. But we dare say that Jesus used the story to background His command. The story or background is in verse 1 through 8 which ended with: “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light”. He used that story to lead Him and His hearers to where He was going: His command, which is from verse 9. And it is this: “And I say unto you …” “And when ye fail”, may be understood to mean “when you die”, for He said that they i.e. your works of love, (‘breast feeding” endeavors and ‘blood’) that properly circulated to give huge life-line to other believers, missionaries et cetera, may receive you into everlasting habitations.
This is also the truth Paul stated clearly in 1Timothy 6:17-19 and which, we suppose has been well treated so far in this series, and which we must necessarily quote here: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Jesus Two Posers, One Purpose
What is more: Jesus asked, “and if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches”? Here, unrighteous mammon contrasts with true riches. Where do we have unrighteous mammon, and where do we have true riches? It is as simple as ABC: on earth and in Heaven respectively.
When we use the unrighteous mammon the way God expects them to be used it is only then that we can be entrusted with the true riches. In other words only those who are using the unrighteous mammon faithfully on earth can be given or rewarded with the true riches in all of eternity. The whole thing once more is tied to our state in Heaven. To use the unrighteous mammon faithfully here is to lay treasures, true riches in Heaven which when we pass on become ‘ours’. It is only the true riches we get when we get to Heaven that are really ours, genuinely ours. Not the unrighteous mammon in our possession here on earth. See how Jesus put it again, repeating what He has said already in different language on purpose:
“And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?” What is it that is referred to here as another man’s? It is the unrighteous mammon. How come? This is the truth that may baffle many. We are simply caretaker of them. We take care for God. We take care of the people (especially the Household of Faith) for God with the mammon of unrighteousness. Primarily God owns these things. And by extension the people (the Household of Faith) own these things: It is a commonwealth. And every commonwealth is put in the charge of some. This is what God does. And He intends the commonwealth to go round. This is the only reason God allows we have the mammon of unrighteousness: to let it go round!
And to the extent that we (those graciously in possession of this commonwealth or the caretakers or channels of flow of these provisions) are still part of the Household of Faith we become partakers of the commonwealth because we must also take care of our needs: Needs indeed, needs determined by the spirit and not the flesh for the flesh is insatiable, and with the mammon of unrighteousness avid to the extreme. By the flesh you can never get enough. By it you can gain the whole world and you are just starting to accumulate. And by it therefore many have sadly lost their souls to eternal fire of hell eventually. It is the spirit we must allow to determine our needs. This is what allows others to meet with their needs as well.
And as we do this we are building up our true riches in Heaven. When the Landlord comes, and takes stock, and we are found faithful, then the true riches that no man can canker, that flesh cannot rubbish, and that are truly ours shall be ushered into our eternal embrace. Eternal riches, eternally the individual’s! Proverbs call them durable riches, and they are with God alongside righteousness: “Riches and honour are with Me; yea, durable riches and righteousness” – Proverbs 8:18. Let us live on this side of eternity with a view of getting those true, eternal and durable riches.
But if we are now unfaithful with that which is ‘unrighteous’, and which is another man’s forget about that which ordinarily should be ours eternally. To forfeit our true riches or what the Scriptures also calls ‘eternal inheritance’ – and we speak of the aspect of eternal inheritance that has to do with rewards – because of our flesh and or because of the transient things which are not even ours, in the first place, is a terrible thing.
Then Jesus went further to say: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Yes, there is a general and non-restrictive sense we can always apply this. But specifically, however, or if we must necessarily also understand this in context – and of course, we should – we would know that our unfaithful uses of the unrighteous mammon, which in the first place is not ours but another man’s, is the worship of mammon. Inability to spare what is above our needs for the Household of Faith; the fleshly self allocation of the commonwealth which God was gracious enough to pass through us; the closed barns; and the ‘seeking of great things for ourselves’ is this mammon worship. And we cannot do that and say we are serving God. And if we are not serving God what then will be our eternal hope. This matter is tied to eternity!
So, in the things God passes through us now let us be channels of distribution, let us be faithful stewards and let us not abuse the excesses so that God’s intention for the Household of Faith would be realized through us. God intends His Church to be an exemplary community: A holy and saintly community given to love, sharing and great fellowship and where none have over and none lack: where there is equality. And when men see this they will know that we are the Disciples of Christ, and God shall then add daily they that are saved into the Church. Think about it. This is what Jesus intends in the Gospels; this is what we see in the Acts of the Apostles and this is the admonition that runs through the Epistles.
Some are Focused
It is certainly not all believers today who are living in ceiled houses and letting the houses and temples of God (in our churches and mission fields) lie waste (Haggai 1:4). There are still very few Christians today who are laying treasures in Heaven, who have true riches stored up for themselves in Heaven and whose heart are in Heaven while they labor on earth to further the gospel of the Kingdom here on earth with every provision God deems fit to channel through them. Yes, in this age some are poised to lay hold on eternal life – both rich and poor alike.
Yours faithfully believes very strongly in prosperity: The prosperity that should not allow the brethren and God’s Vineyard (especially such that are in very difficult lands) to waste. He believes in great riches. He believes in God adding riches upon riches to him but not for him to consume upon his lust but AS A CHANNEL, A CARETAKER and A STEWARD! It is bad enough to seek riches (for God says He will add them as we seek His Kingdom and its righteousness). It is worse to seek them (riches) for ourselves: “And seeks you great things for yourself? Seek them not” – Jeremiah 45:5.
There are Christians, rich and poor, virtually diverting all their earnings from the financial, oil & energy, telecommunication sectors etc to God’s work and purpose in the ‘10-40 window’ and similar difficult places if peradventure God would save some. Some of them sponsor tens and scores of missionaries to foreign lands. Rich and poor alike are investing seriously in God’s vineyard, nay, in Heaven, because for this purpose they are saved and are still here. Those rich are becoming or rather living poor that others may be rich or at least comfortable and these others may be here at home or abroad engaged in the Master’s work.
There are some who though ordinarily managing to survive are putting smiles in many faces and strengthening many hands in this battle the Lord has called us into! While many are living comfortably at the expense of the Church and missionary works, these few are planting in that City that has foundation, which cannot be moved, that thieves cannot break into to steal, and whose Builder is God. There are few whose hearts are well connected to that City of God! Many who are seemingly poor with us here today are rich up there.
A Serious Matter!
We must pose the question: Can we get to the Bosom of the Father on the last day if the brethren know no succor by us, if God’s work is suffering because of us and if we make the battle more difficult than it ought to be ordinarily? We believe the issue of how we use God’s provision is tied to our abode in eternity: not necessarily in terms of reward there, true as this may be; but on whether or not we would get there in the first instance, even after our salvation. It is beyond the issue of being rewarded or some works being burnt and yet we making Heaven.
Yes, works will be burnt or otherwise based on intent, purposes and what have you that we bring into our services, which includes giving, unto God. That refers to the one we use for God but the question or the issue will be how we use it. Did we use it wrongly or rightly? And we shall either lose or gain rewards. That one is different.
When we did not use God’s provision but rather tie it to lust, self, to bloated bank accounts and to enhance our ceiled houses and thus make them cankered rather than use them to further the gospel then it becomes entirely a different thing all together. It is eternal trouble: “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” – Matthew 25:30. We advise we read it from verse 14-30 for better understanding and so we present it:
“For the Kingdom of Heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
By extension, maybe we may be allowed to spiritualize Matthew 25:14-30 to include spiritual gifts and all that, but specifically and literarily what is pointedly referred to here is TALENT and talent here means MONEY, and for the benefit of doubt verse 27 comes to our aid by precisely saying MONEY. In Jewry (Israel) ‘gerah’ was money. Ten ‘gerahs’ made one ‘bekah’, two ‘bekahs’ made one ‘shekel’, fifty ‘shekels’ made one ‘maneh’, sixty ‘manehs’ made one ‘talent’. The ‘talent’ Jesus refers is, in our contemporary times, ‘Dollar’, ‘Yen’, ‘Euro’, ‘Pound’ or what have you. So, why we may be allowed to expand or amplify the interpretation, let us stick to the PRIMARY THING: MONEY!
Money answers all things. God gave it to us to be used by Him to answer all things (especially those things very dear to His Heart). When He needs it from where He has deposited it to answer certain things and those channels are blocked on the exit end and are not forthcoming and subsequently the brethren of Christ suffer, backslide (spiritual death) or die (physical death) and His work at home and abroad is endangered and even overcome as it were, such that cause any of that to happen may well not be better than the gates of hell. But He said He will build His Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
So, let’s allow Him to build His Church with us as willing tools. Let’s be with Him as He builds, let’s not be with the gates of Hell. He wants the exit end of the channels (which channels we are) to be readily opened. He needs them open, for only with this can He answer all things. He hears the mounting cries in the mission fields; He hears the cry of Israel; He hears the cry of the orphans, disabled, refuges; and He hears the cry of the poor brethren in our midst. He hears! He wants to answer! And, indeed, He has answered. He has given all it takes to answer every cry from anywhere to some in the Church. He has raised hundred-fold helpers to every cry. And we know it pains Him that those He has provided those things through have their channel exits ceiled up.
In any case, the gates of Hell will not prevail against Him. He could use stones, jaw bones and asses to get the task done. We pray we are not sidelined by Him. So, let’s make haste before His provisions in our care become cankered! Let’s abhor our ceiled houses (think of our City above).
Are you saved, born-again? Have a bosom. Make the milk of your breast available today. Let the people of God and the work of God be nourished by you. Be rich unto God; live for the brethren and God’s work. Get a foundation on High; your treasure store-house in that Celestial City. Let’s stick our hearts to it (Heaven). THAT WE MAY LAY HOLD UNTO ETERNAL LIFE!
From henceforth then may we give that which Scriptures called “an odor of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18). Again, “but to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” – Hebrews 13:16. To communicate for the Kingdom’s expansion (which is very pleasing to God) is to consolidate our place in that Kingdom of God for where our treasure is our hearts would be and where our hearts is we are likely to be.
Sowers on earth will reap bliss in that eternity with God. So then, let us not be weary in well-doing. Think the brethren; think mission; think Israel; think God! Think the Kingdom and eternity! Freely we receive, freely let us give.
Between Knowles Shaw and George A Minor the Church has come to be singing “Bringing in the Sheaves:
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,
Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,
Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
Knowles Shaw supplied those great lyrics and also wrote mu¬sic for them. However, the tune that is today universally used is by George A. Mi¬nor. The duo’s counsel is always timely. This is sowing time. This is the time to lay treasures up yon. Very soon it shall be rejoicing time!
Igho writes from Warri.
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