If you were appointed as Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, would you steal? It all depends on what kingdom you belong to. If you belong to the kingdoms of this world, you would be a fool not to steal. No matter the anti-corruption noises being made right now, you would know you cannot be in that post forever. You can be removed at a moment’s notice.
Therefore, you need to seize the day and siphon as much money as you can as soon as you can. The only imperative today is that you will need to steal with a lot more finesse than has been exhibited by past looters. You have to make sure you cover your tracks very well. In any case, the possibility of capture and the threat of imprisonment has yet to discourage daylight robbery in the kingdoms of men.
However, put Christians who claim they belong to the kingdom of God in the same office, and what do you find? They also steal. But why would Christians who profess the righteousness of God also do that? Jesus provides a cryptic answer. He says Christians would steal because, in general, we are not as smart as unbelievers: “The children of this world are, in their own generation, wiser than the children of the light.” (Luke 16:8).
In short, unbelievers steal because they are smart: while Christians steal because we are foolish. Unbelievers are wise because, by pocketing government funds, they prepare for their future, which is on earth. However, Christians are foolish because, by stealing, we prepare for our past, which is also on earth. The man who prepares for his future is wiser than the fool who prepares for his past.
Unbelievers only have this world; heaven is not their portion. Therefore, they are wise to steal and thereby secure their future in this world. However, this world does not belong to believers. We are only strangers and pilgrims here. Our future is in heaven and not on earth.
In this world, the day starts in the morning and ends in the evening. But in the kingdom of God, the day starts in the evening and ends in the morning. (Genesis 1:5).
Jesus warns: “Whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:25). Paul also counsels believers: “Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2).
Why would God allow a child of light to become a Minister of Finance in a world of darkness? Why would God “promote” a member of his godly kingdom with a high-ranking job in the sinful kingdom of this world? The answer lies in the understanding of kingdom dynamics.
There is a reason for everything that happens in the life of a man. There is a reason for every situation, for every affliction, for every triumph, and every failure. There is a reason because God leaves nothing to chance.
Jesus says one of the reasons why believers are still in the world is to determine if we can be entrusted with the true riches: “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 money.” (Luke 16:12-13).
Thus, out of his twelve disciples, Jesus decided to make the thief, Judas, his “Minister of Finance.” Judas must have thought Jesus is a fool, no matter how spiritual he might be. Therefore, he stole regularly from the common purse. So doing, he failed a simple integrity test.
The man who steals is disqualified from the true riches of God’s kingdom and condemned to the counterfeit riches of this world. True riches endure: counterfeit riches ultimately grow wings and fly away.
Riches in glory
Jesus says money does not belong to the believer: it belongs to someone else. What then belongs to the believer? It is God himself! As God proclaimed concerning the priests and the Levites of the Old Testament: “It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession.” (Ezekiel 44:28).
Believers are not called to showcase the glories of this world. We are called to show forth the glories of God’s kingdom, which are chronically absent in the world. While the world is rich in money, it is poor in mercy. The world is lacking in righteousness, justice, and equity. It is deficient in love, joy, and peace. The world is starved of the ornaments of the kingdom of God.
Look around you. There are people in your neighbourhood in need of kindness. There are people next door in need of compassion. People need truth. They need the goodness of God. Jesus says: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
Looking unto 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 because he was alright. 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’s lamentations about his predicament, the president 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.
But 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 can do in such a situation? Can he still tell them: “Block everything?”
Certainly not! The foolish Christian runs to Egypt for help, while the wise Christian casts his cares on the Lord, knowing He cares for him. (1 Peter 5:7).