On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 79: The Big Deception

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:19 RSV)

It is perhaps the first goal of Satan to make the world attractive. After all, the name “Satan” means “the deceiver.” Satan is so deceptive that he is able to gain the friendliness of even the most devout of Christians. For example, there are many who call themselves Christian who will make any sacrifice to gain money or other riches. And, the more successful they are in getting what they want, the less they care for the Christian Truth and for anyone or anything else in the world. Thus is love for God lost:  the more the material wealth, the less invested in Christ and His Church.

It is a disturbing fact that so many are deceived by Satan. So attractive does Satan make money and riches that individuals become enchanted with the prospect of happiness forever, provided the money holds out. It is the greatest deception when Satan lays before us the vision of power and wealth, saying that we might use such power and wealth for the good of the poor and powerless of this world. Yet when and if such wealth and power is gained, those who gain it find little further connection with the needs of the world. The deception is complete when, seeing their wealth and newly gained buying power, they now feel the compelling need to protect it. The whole idea of self-denial, self-sacrifice, and humility is gone. They have no desire to part with their dear earthly treasure. Thus, they are no longer servants of Christ, but are now in the service of money, representing Satan himself. Satan has so deceived them that now they are in the service of what Jesus calls “mammon” – earthly riches.

The change in individuals from godliness to worldliness is so often a subtle, unnoticeable thing. Satan is truly the deceiver when he can cause such a change and the target doesn’t even know or realize it is happening. But the result is true: such a person who has been deceived is no longer in the company of Christ, but has a new master.

Can anyone change back? Can anyone put off the deception and return to the company and service of Christ? Yes, of course. But it takes more than just realizing that one has been deceived. He or she must reject the deception. He or she must renounce Satan again just as it was done at Holy Baptism. He or she must put this rejection and renunciation into practice by faithful support of Christ, His Church, and His people. Actions, in this case, speak louder than words. “Do not be deceived….” (Galatians 6:7 RSV).

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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