Seek First The Kingdom of God And Its Righteousness(PART 2)
Another inevitable human need that could stand as an obstacle to our attaining heaven is MONEY. Yes, you heard me rightly: MONEY! Money is a need, but it could also be a ‘god’. Since the beginning of Time, Money has always been worshipped directly or indirectly by human beings (The spirit of Mammon). It has taken the place of the Divine in the lives of many. Men down the Ages have ‘idolized’ it, and offered huge sacrifices to attained it. They have gone extra lengths (miles) in pursuit of it. They have done regrettable things to possess it. Some have prized it above their ETERNITY. Others have exchanged it for their SOULS.
For money and what it offers, parents have sacrificed their children, and children, their parents. For money, brothers have betrayed their brothers; and sisters have killed their sisters. For money, mothers have sold their babies. For money, women have sold their bodies and dignities; some have defiled their matrimonial beds. While little girls have lost their pride and done the unspeakable for it. For money, men have freely enrolled themselves in the occults and mattered the evil crafts of human and animal rituals. They have done terrible things that only the Devil can be proud of. For money, kingdoms have been destroyed, and generations wiped out. For the sake of money, man has become wolf to his fellow man. Man’s inhumanity to to his fellow man, is at its peak, when money is involved.
From all that has been said, it seems as though money is evil itself. No! Money is not evil. It is the love of money that is evil and the greed to acquire it at any cost, that has and could lead us astray from God and His Kingdom. Hence, Saint Paul would admonished us saying, “Indeed, the love of money is the root of every evil, and in their greed some have wandered away from the faith, bringing on themselves afflictions of every kind” (1 Tim. 6:10). Again in Colossians 3:5-6, he emphasized greed as idol worship which will arouse the wrath of God. Similarly, Jesus would say, “Be on your guard and avoid every kind of greed, for the quality of your life does not depend on the possession you have, however great they may be” (Luke 12:15).
It is true, that ‘money makes the world go round’. For without money the basic necessities of life cannot be acquired. For without money our churches, schools, hospitals etc cannot be built. Sincerely speaking, without money, life will be a wheel of endless shame, regret, sorrow and pains. Money gives us some sense of guarantee and purpose; and freedom to express ourselves and to venture into the unknown. Undoubtedly, money is Good. Money in itself is not evil. Little wonder my novice master, Rev. Fr. Damian Ozokwere, CSSp., would say, ‘the church stands on two legs: the holy spirit and money’. Critically, he is perfectly correct.
However, the place of money in our lives as individuals or a church, should not take the place of God. But on the contrary, that has become the case in many of our lives and churches today. Money has become our god! Our love of money has become even more than our love for God. Our pursuit for money most times, have been put first above our pursuit for God’s kingdom and its righteousness. Consciously or unconsciously, the pursuit of money and material things preoccupy a LARGER PLACE in many of our lives in comparison to the place God occupies in our hearts.
Consequently, Jesus would warns us saying, “No one can serve two masters at the same time; for he will either hate one and love the other, or he will be loyal to one and neglect the other. You cannot serve both God and money ” (Mat. 6:24). What does Jesus mean by, “you cannot serve both God and money”? It means the Christian must choose between God and money which comes first. I know many of will never agree that the serve money more than they serve God. Hence, I will like us all to examine ourselves, by asking some REAL HARD questions.
Have you as a Christian, for the greed of money sold your soul to the devil? Have you been initiated or get yourself involved in the occults, all for money or protection? Have dedicated yourself to any god or altar? Do you use charms for your businesses? Have gone for any form of ritual cleansing in so-called rivers, because someone said something? Have done any form of divinations to know your destiny or future? Do you lie and cheat to gain more profit? Do you offer or accept bribes?Sometimes, as a priest I’ve come to realized that I’m more concerned about my stipends and material rewards than the actual salvation of souls. I know I’m not alone in that. I also know that many of us are more particular about the viability of the mission we are sent, than the souls will are supposed to lead to God’s Kingdom.
Thus, saint Peter, will remind us as he reminded the elders of his time, “Shepherd the flock which God has entrusted to you, guarding it not out of obligation but willingly for God’s sake; not as one looking for a reward (sordid money), but with a generous heart; do not lord it over those in your care, rather be an example to the flock. Then, when the chief Shepherd appears, you will be given a crown of unfading glory” (1 Pet. 5:2-4).
Contrary to that advise, the ministry and the church today seem to have become means of making money for many of us, rather than means of making HEAVEN. Both the ordained ministers and the lay faithful are guilty of this. It is common today, to hear about embezzlement of church funds, inflation of figures, and even outright stealing. Those who are supposed to bring to the mission, are those who are most interested in what they can get from the mission. It seems as though, many of us are most interested in the things of this material world than we are interested in the things of Heaven.
On this Jesus would remind us, “Do not store up treasure for yourself here on earth where thieves can break in and steal it. Rather, store treasure for yourself with God, where no moth or rust can destroy nor thief break in and steal it. For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be” (Matthew 6:19-21). Affirming this, Paul in Colossians 3:1-2, would say, “So then,… seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things”.
It is on this note I wish to draw our attention to some figures in the Bible who forfeited their calls and eventually the Kingdom because of their greed for money. The first was Judas Iscariot, the one who sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Remember that Scripture recognized Judas all along as a thief, but Jesus still allowed him as one of his disciples (cf. John 12:5-6). Like Judas, many of us today, are helping ourselves from treasuries of the church. Jesus knows like He knew of Judas and said nothing. He is aware of your shading dealings in His House. He is only giving you time to repent. Take this opportunity today. Return that money to money quietly and reconcile with your God.
The other persons I would like us to examine again are Ananias and Sapphira, the once who hoard money from the Apostle (cf. Acts 5:1-11). Remember, the money was theirs, before and after they sold their property. But they wanted to be smart on God. No one can be smart on Him.
My dearly beloved in Christ, as you go about your daily pursuit of life, seeking for your daily bread, please be reminded of these truths. Naked you came into this world and naked you shall return. (cf. 1:21). Nothing is more important than your ETERNITY. For what shall it profit you if you gain the whole world and forfeit your soul? Or what can you give in exchange for your soul? (cf. Mark 8:36). So the next time you are tempted to forfeit your ETERNAL DESTINY for the passing things of this life, think twice….
To be Continued….