Message of Stewardship 10
Peril to Stewardship
Taken from “The Message of Stewardship” by Ralph Cushman
“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.”
“John Wesley never showed more keenly his powers of discernment than when he said, ‘Christianity has in it the elements of its own destruction.’ Of course the statement needs explanation, and Wesley proceeds to explain: ‘When a man becomes a true Christian, he becomes industrious, trustworthy, and prosperous. Now, if that man, whilst he gets all he can and saves all he can, does not give all he can, I have more hope of Judas Iscariot than of that man!’”
A Wikipedia snippet: Whitefield inclined to Calvinism. In his first tour in America, he embraced the views of the New England School of Calvinism. When in 1739 Wesley preached a sermon on Freedom of Grace, attacking the Calvinistic understanding of predestination as blasphemous, as it represented “God as worse than the devil,” Whitefield asked him not to repeat or publish the discourse, as he did not want a dispute. Wesley published his sermon anyway. Whitefield was one of many who responded. The two men separated their practice in 1741. Wesley wrote that those who held to unlimited atonement did not desire separation, but “those who held ‘particular redemption’ would not hear of any accommodation.” In 1770, at the death of George Whitefield, Wesley wrote a memorial sermon which praised Whitefield’s admirable qualities and acknowledged the two men’s differences: “There are many doctrines of a less essential nature … In these we may think and let think; we may ‘agree to disagree.’ But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials…” Wesley was the first to put the phrase “agree to disagree” in print. Because of his charitable nature he died poor, leaving as the result of his life’s work 135,000 members and 541 itinerant preachers under the name “Methodist”. It has been said that “when John Wesley was carried to his grave, he left behind him a good library of books, a well-worn clergyman’s gown” and the Methodist Church.
“This is an appeal to the Church to uproot the prevalent sin of covetousness, a sin that is the more devastating because it stalks abroad in the guise of respectability, not only blocking the progress of the Kingdom but deceiving the very elect. Pity the man whose money, intended to be his servant, actually becomes his master; who does not see property as a stewardship, not to be lavished on self, but to be used for the saving of the community and of the world-in the name of the Father. Property can bless to heaven or tempt to hell.”
“Just before I went to Brazil I was the guest of the President of the Argentine Republic. After lunching one day we sat in his sun parlor looking out over the river He was very thoughtful. He said, ‘Mr. Babson, I have been wondering why it is that South America, with all its great natural advantages, is so far behind North America, notwithstanding that South America was settled before North America.’…Well those of you who have been there know the reason, but, being a guest, I said, ‘Mr. President, what do you think is the reason?’ He replied, ‘I have come to this conclusion: South America was settled by the Spanish, who came to South America in search of gold; but north America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers, who went there in search of God!’” Roger W. Babson
Roger Babson from rogerbabson.com: He was a protestant and believed firmly in God. At 15 he was converted and he always felt it was the greatest experience in is life. Because of this he was always involved with the church and from 1936 through to 1938 was even a National Church Moderator for the General Council on the Congregational-Christian Churches. During this time he tried to change the council for the better like he tried to change himself and everyone around him. Being Roger Babson he tried to do so using statistics, showing how to attendance at the church was dropping. He thought it was because of the morality in the world changing for the worse. He tried changing the church (and society) to become more popular and stay on a morally correct road, but most people would have none of the meddling and turned against him. He was very disappointed because of all of this and in 1938 resigned his position at the council.
Because he was very disappointed with all the resistance he was met with at the church, he tried to promote a project called Open Church. It’s goal was to have church doors open all day on every day. So that people of all faiths could worship inside these churches at any time they wanted. This grew from an experiment in Wellesley in 1938 into a national effort of the Open Church Association, which eventually headquartered in Gloucester, the place Roger Babson was born.
(Open Church seems to be just a tract distribution organization)
Babson adds “Let us American citizens never kick down the ladder by which we climbed up.” It is characteristic of the insidious sin of covetousness that it leads to this very thing.”
“When Gilbert Chesterton said, ‘Christianity has not been tried and found wanting—it has been found difficult and not tried,’ he might have been writing a tract on the Christianizing of property, for without question the greatest hindrance to Christian conquest at this hour is the unconsecrated money in the hands of members of the Christian Church.”
“Take just one of the statements of Jesus: ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth.’ Since the days of the early Church what generation of Christians has taken these words seriously?”
“But what additional evidence is there that the love of money is indeed perilous? Call the witnesses.”
George Innes wrote in “The Confessions of a Business Man”: There is a sin in the church that we are afraid to mention. What is its common name? I will tell you what its common name is, and what its aristocratic anme is, and what its historical name is, and what its scriptural name is. It is covetousness! ‘Oh, well,’ you say, ‘that is not so bad. That is a pretty sort of sin, in fact, almost a virtue, for it is just saving, isn’t it? Being thrifty, being shrewd, that is what covetousness is, isn’t it? In that case, even if Paul and Isaiah and Jeremiah and some others speak of it as a sin, it cannot be so bad. ‘ Well, let us see what Paul says about it, what his idea of the thing is. Hear what he says: ‘For this ye know of a suety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.’ Eph 5:5 ‘Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.’ Col. 3:5
Rom 1:29-30 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
“It is impossible to find any comprehensive definition of covetousness. Definitions can help, but cannot go to the root of the peril. To say that covetousness is ‘inordinate desire,’ or that a covetous person is ‘avaricious,” “greedy,’ or ‘mercenary’ is hardly to define adequately. All of these definitions must be further explained. For our purposes it may be enough to declare that covetousness is the arch enemy of Jesus’ philosophy of stewardship. It makes self the center and circumference of the universe; it is the negation of everything that stewardship stands for. It creates a selfish, cruel world without a God and without a heaven.”
(The OT word centers on desiring, as in thou shall not desire your neighbor’s anything, whereas, in the NT that word is still there but covetousness takes on a larger meaning of greed and avarice that takes from others and always wants to establish itself as bigger and better.)
“It has worked as a gangrene into the whole fabric of Christian society. There are plenty of people that do not have capcity to earn more than fifteen dollars a week, the citadel of whose life is clenched as tightly in the grip of covetousness as that of the millionaire.” George Innis
“Indeed, the ubiquitousness (its everywhere) of this sin explains why covetousness is a peril not only to the individual but to nations.”
Jer 6:13-14 “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.
“The damning characteristic of covetousness lies in what it leads to. It lures men on. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not covet’ is God’s warning against the very beginnings of sin.”
Luke 12:13-15 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
“I have had many people resort to me for confession. The confession of every sin that I have known or heard of, and of sins so foul that I never dreamed of them, has been poured into my ear. But no person has ever confessed to me the sin of covetousness.” Francis Xavier
One of the founders of the Jesuits. This from their constitution: let whoever desires to fight under the sacred banner of the Cross, and to serve only God and the Roman pontiff, His vicar on earth, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity,- let him keep in mind that he is part of a society, instituted for the purpose of perfecting souls in life and in Christian doctrine, for the propagation of the faith . . . Let all members know, and let it be not only at the beginning of their profession, but let them think over it daily as long as they live, that the society as a whole, and each of them, owes obedience to our most holy lord, the pope, and the other Roman pontiffs, his successors, and to fight with faithful obedience for God. (They were the soldiers of the counter reformation)
“I looked upon a sea, And lo! Twas dead, Although by Hermon’s snows and Jordan fed. How came a fate so dire? The tale’s soon told. All that it got it kept, And fast did hold. All tributary streams Found here their grave. Because that sea received But never gave. O sea that’s dead! Teach me To know and feel That selfish grasp and greed My doom will seal. And help me, Lord, my best—Myself to give, That I may others bless And like thee live.” Author unknown
Acts 5:1-4 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
“Covetousness has this one thing in common with stewardship: it cultivates an ambitious spirit. But there is a world of difference in the motive and the result. Someone, comparing Napoleon and Phillips Brooks, said, ‘The one sought the world for himself, the other sought the world for Christ.’”
“Wealth is a means, and life the end; You lose your hoard, have what you spend. Oh that unhappy mortal clay Who never learned to give away! His heaped up wealth made him its slave; He did not use, who never gave.” Saadi
A Persian Poet from the 1200’s whose life was put in disarray due to the Mongol invasions. From Wikipedia: Regarding the importance of professions Saadi writes: O darlings of your fathers, learn the trade because property and riches of the world are not to be relied upon; also silver and gold are an occasion of danger because either a thief may steal them at once or the owner spend them gradually; but a profession is a living fountain and permanent wealth; and although a professional man may lose riches, it does not matter because a profession is itself wealth and wherever you go you will enjoy respect and sit on high places, whereas those who have no trade will glean crumbs and see hardships.
“Oh joy supreme! I know the voice—Like none beside on earth or sea; Yea, more, oh soul of mine, rejoice, By all that he requires of me I know what God himself must be.” John Greenleaf Whittier
“Another peril grows out of the fact that covetousness silences the instinctive question of the good steward—‘What am I here for?’ The question that covetousness asks is not ‘What am I here to give?’ But ‘What am I here to get?’ ‘My Father’s business’ becomes an afterthought—if remembered at all.”
Mark 10:17 And as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:21-22 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” 22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
“O Lord, how I love thy word! Surely it is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to possess the riches of the world for a season! Hold me steadily in thy presence; let not the vain ambitions of this life enthrall me, nor the covetous desires of the flesh posess me; grant me thy peace; be thou my strength; let me know thy joy, that, always master of the world, I may never by mastered by it. Throught Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”
Luke 12:19-21 And I will say to my soul,”Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
“Unrestrained desire for the riches of this earth leads to the death of all stewardship consciousness. This is because covetousness ignores God’s claim to ownership, refuses to consider his call to service, and blindly closes its eyes to the inevitable day of reckoning. When one seeks to analyze the sin of stinginess he finds it is fundamentally the appropriating for self that which belongs to God.”
“So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan, which moves To that mysterious realm, where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.” William Cullen Bryant
From Wikipedia: Bryant, for most of his lifetime, was thoroughly a New Yorker — and a very dedicated one at that. He was a major force behind the idea that became Central Park, as well as a leading proponent of creating the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was one of a group of founders of New York Medical College. He had close affinities with the Hudson River School of art and was an intimate friend of Thomas Cole. He defended immigrants and, at some financial risk to himself, championed the rights of workers to form labor unions. He is also remembered as one of the principal authorities on homeopathy and as a hymnist for the Unitarian Church — both legacies of his father’s enormous influence on him. Poet and literary critic Thomas Holley Chivers said that the “only thing [Bryant] ever wrote that may be called Poetry is ‘Thanatopsis’, which he stole line for line from the Spanish. The fact is, that he never did anything but steal — as nothing he ever wrote is original.
Josh 7:6-11 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said,… 8 O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? …10 So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.
“Soon after Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombers sank two of the largest of British battleships in the hrbor of Singapore. A missionary commented: ‘In those eleven minutes more wealth went to the bottom of the Indian Ocean than had been spent in two hundred years by the Protestant churches of America in trying to Christianize the people of Japan.’ The lesson is evident. It looks as if the church members of America might have prevented the World Wars if they had obeyed the Great Commission. Anyway, General Sir Archibald Wavell said in 1942: ‘Think what a world we could make if we put into our peace endeavors the same self-sacrifice, the same energy, and the same cooperation that we use in the wastefulness of war.’”
You get a sense of sadness from his wartime experiences, yet a man whose faith kept him strong.
Matt 27:3-5 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
“That is forever the indictment of repentant covetousness—‘I have betrayed innocent blood.’ And unrepentant covetousness always answers, ‘What is that to us?’ There is little honor among thieves. Without a stewardship consciousness there is no concern for God or man. And this is the tragedy of life.”
Matt 19:23-26 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
“Money is danger. We pass by too easily the searching warning words of Jesus. Nothing can fool men like money. It seems so powerful that it makes men forget the Supreme Power. It feeds pride until a man thinks he has no need of God. It constantly invites selfishness. It commands so many things that men forget the real goods which it can never purchase; righteousness, love and clear conscience. There is only one way of escape; an evil master, it can be a splendid workman; the minister of hell may become the servant of light. All power is danger except as we link it to some high goal.” Roger W. Babson
“He took a towel; My Lord Christ took a towel! To shame them from their sordid strife, To lift them to a larger life, He took a towel in his hand, With hope that they might understand Their sin—the greater need Of all disciples Blind with greed! Blind with their selfishness, How could they see The Cross, and all That goes with Calvary?” Ralph Cushman