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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

LVIII MAKING FRIENDS OF MAMMON

Luke xvi.1-10.

Mammon means money, and the purpose of this parable is to teach Christians their relations to that world of which Mammon is the centre, -- the world of business interests and cares. Jesus says that this world is neither very good nor very bad. It is simply unrighteous. It has no specific moral quality about it. He says further that you cannot serve this world of Mammon and serve God also. You must choose. What then can you do in your relation to Mammon? You can do one of three things. You may, first, make an enemy of Mammon; or secondly, make a master of Mammon, or thirdly, make a friend of Mammon. Many people in Christian history have made an enemy of Mammon. They have regarded the world of business as a godless world which should be shunned. They have run away from it to the ascetic, unworldly life. That is the spirit of the whole monastic retreat from the battle of {144} practical life, -- a reaction full of the beauty of self-denial, but still a retreat. The battle of life has to go on, and the best troops have run away. On the other hand, a great many persons have made a master of Mammon. They are simply the slaves of money. That is the vulgar materialism of the modern world. But Jesus says that neither of these attitudes towards Mammon is the Christian relation. The Christian is to make a friend of Mammon; to welcome it, and to use it, to discover the good in it and learn its lessons; to mould it into the higher uses of life. Here is a potter working in his clay. It is a coarse material which he uses and his hands grow soiled as he works; but it is not for him to reject it because it is not clean, but for him to work out through it the shapes of beauty which are possible within the limits of the clay. Just such a material is the modern world. It is not very clean and not very beautiful; but the problem of life is to mould out of its uncleanness the shapes of beauty which it contains. To run away from life -- that is easy enough; to yield to its evil -- that is still easier; but to be in the world and to mould it -- that is the {145} real problem of the Christian life. And here is the real test of Christian character. The saints of the past have been for the most part men who fled from the world, but the saint of to-day is the man who can use the world. He is the man of business who amid looseness of standards keeps himself clean. He is the youth in college who without the least retreat from its influences moulds them to good. He is not the runaway from the world of Mammon, nor yet its slave; he makes a friend of Mammon for the service of God.

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