The Christian steals because he prepares foolishly for his past.
If you were appointed today as Minister of Finance, would you steal? It all depends on what kingdom you belong to. If an unbeliever becomes a Minister of Finance, he would be a fool not to steal. Because he has the wisdom of the world, he would steal knowing he would not be in that office forever, and might be removed at a moment’s notice.
But put a Christian in the same office, and what do you find? He also steals. But why would he do such a thing? Jesus says the Christian steals because, as a rule, he is not as smart as the unbeliever: “The sons of this world are shrewder in their generation than the sons of light.” (Luke 16:8) The unbeliever steals because he prepares wisely for his future. But the Christian steals because he prepares foolishly for his past. Instead of preparing for his future in heaven, Christians prepare for their past on earth.
Vanity of Vanities
Jesus observes that the children of this world are wiser because they know how to prepare for their future, which is on earth. But the children of the kingdom of God are unwise because they mistake their past for their future. A believer must be able to discern the times. In this world, the day starts in the morning and ends in the evening. But in the kingdom, the day starts in the evening and ends in the morning. (Genesis 1:5)
The Lord came to me once and asked me a characteristically loaded question. He said: “Femi, what do you own?” While I was pondering what he meant exactly and how to answer, he decided to help me out. He said to me: “If what you have can be lost, then it does not belong to you. If it can be stolen, then it has no value. If it can be burnt or destroyed then it is illusory.” Then he asked me further: “So what do you have left?” The Holy Spirit helped me out: “The only ‘thing’ you have left is Jesus.”
I am reminded of a possibly apocryphal story a woman trader from Kano told me about a former President of Nigeria who was affectionately called “Maradona.” She said after he became President, he called his best friend and asked him what he could do for him. “I am President now,” he said. “Ask me for whatever you desire.” The friend gratefully declined on the grounds that he was all right. God had been good to him, he said, he had no pressing needs.
When he left, the President called his lieutenants. “Find out what that man is relying on,” he demanded. They came back and gave him details of his friend’s business interests. So the President gave a simple instruction: “Block everything. Make life as difficult for him as possible in every area of his interest.” And his lieutenants set out to the task.
Soon the friend came back to see the President. “See me see trouble,” he cried. “I am having this problem and having that difficulty.” The President was most sympathetic. “What am I here for?” he asked expansively. “Did I not tell you if you have any problem all you have to do is tell me?” So after listening to his friend go over the details of his predicament, he promised to take immediate action. Thereafter, he instructed his lieutenants again concerning his friend. “Unblock everything you blocked.”
You may well ask what the motive of the President was in these machinations. He was not satisfied with being the man’s friend. He wanted to be his God.
Treasures in Heaven
After hearing this story, I decided to add to it. What if when the President asked his people to find out what his friend was relying on, they came back and told him: “Sir, he is relying on Jesus.” What do you think the President could do in such a situation? Can he still tell them: “Block everything?” What exactly are they going to block? Can a man block God? How would he go about it?
So why would God make a child of light a Minister of Finance in a world of darkness? Indeed, Jesus looked at his twelve disciples and decided to make the thief, Judas, the treasurer. Why did he do that? He was not being foolish. By making Judas a treasurer of false riches, Jesus was merely trying to determine whether he could be trusted with true riches. Of course, Judas failed the test.