GOD AND MAMMON

If you are looking for a good point of reference for the solutions of about 70 per cent of your ethical problems, you might call to mind, “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” Most people think they are discussing the issue when they are really trying to discover some rationalization by which they can make the best of two worlds. They can see very clearly what they ought to do, and they see with equal clarity what it will cost. It’s the cost in the decision that is the real trouble.

This covers all sorts of things, such as how you will spend the Sabbath Day, where you will engage in sharp practices in business, how long it will take you to get even with somebody else, and what to do with your money.

The all-American “success motif” gets into all kinds of things. There was a wife who almost refused to go along with her husband to a foreign mission field because she couldn’t stand to part with her electric toaster. There was a girl who wanted to be a missionary but whose good Christian mother talked her out of it by saying, “Why don’t you work for a few years and get a little money ahead, and then you will have something to fall back on.” And another mother advised her daughter, “Get your three-year teaching certificate; and then, if anything goes wrong, you will have something to fall back on.” In the last analysis, what we “fall back on” is our real god, no matter what else we say.

Someone has suggested that our easiest forgetting is forgetting that we inhabit a planet. Right now we are hurtling through space in at least seven different directions (according to Einstein), and it is interesting to suggest that while we are riding on such a bolt in the blue our security rests on a three-year teaching certificate.

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