Apr 17, 2014

Screwtape on Financial Peace - A Modern Attempt at a C.S. Lewis Classic


I have been pondering for a year or so how to write about the subject of stewardship and finances in an interesting way. You may have read the series of articles from the perspective of a $100 bill. You can check those out here. After recently reading a few more letters from C.S. Lewis’s book I had to try my hand at his style using a modern day struggle as we steward our time and relationships. The book, The Screwtape Letters is a series of letters written from the perspective of Screwtape, an officer of some sort in the army of the evil one, as he mentors another minion named Wormwood. If you haven’t read the book it is excellent and does a wonderful job of opening our eyes to the temptations that may come our way.  If you haven’t read the classic satire of C.S. Lewis you can pick up a copy of The Screwtape Letters here.


MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
 
Your subject has been spending time trying to get his finances in the right order.  You say he has attended some kind of class and he intends to continue participating for weeks to come.  It is true that we have held your subject in a state of constant worry with his paycheck-to-paycheck living.  We have caused many arguments and distractions and a hope that more money would one day remedy all of his worldly problems.  Wormwood, if you are not vigilant you will see this class and these life changes leading your subject toward that straight and narrow life that we would try to keep him from.  We have seen many men line up with allegiance to the Enemy and there is real risk here.
 
You’ve said that he has saved $1,000 in the first two weeks of the class and he’s been committed to skipping out on different indulgences which we once used to control him.  This does seem like a loss to you now but if you stay a step ahead of him, my dear nephew, you will have him.  I’ll lay out a plan for you and point out a few matters that you must attend to straight away.
 
The Enemy says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
So far your subject hasn’t had money to love.  He has simply loved the idea of money.  He has always bowed down at an altar with his eyes veiled.  He worshiped money that he did not have.  Now that it will be in his life we need not fear that it will change him. Simply encourage him to love the idol that he now holds.  Let money be his god and let it be his ruin, just as before.
 
Here is the key--your subject must be catapulted from his former state into an existence focused on this subject of money.  Don’t fear the savings or even the paying off of debt.  We have had to retreat from those battle grounds by now.  Your man has taken them firmly.  We’ll need to use those victories to lure him into a trap that will hold him more firmly than debt.  You see, when he was without money he was in a state of dependence on the Enemy.  We need only to take away that dependence by creating a new god.  Convince your subject that if he removes all debt and saves enough he won’t have to depend on anyone and he won’t answer to anyone.  The humans have a tendency to separate the spiritual world and what they can see.  By creating this security in wealth we can lead your subject along like donkey trotting along after a carrot on a stick.  No amount of money can ever be enough but as your subject sets one goal after another he will feel like he has accomplished something.  His love for money will have distracted him from his original pursuit of living as a steward.
 
That really is the biggest pitfall in all this.  If your subject truly embraces the role that the Enemy would have him in, as the steward, we have lost.  You see, those folks that line up their allegiance to that Kingdom will surrender everything to it.  That is the real danger.  Don’t let him fall out of the center of his own universe.  Use this as an opportunity to build his own kingdom and do all you can to keep him from setting his gaze on Heaven.
 
A man who has fallen into the role of steward will start thinking about his neighbor’s needs and praying for his fellow man.  To combat this you’ll need to encourage miserly thoughts.  Turn this young man into a curmudgeon at heart.  Convince him that he can’t afford to think about his neighbor if he will reach his goal of being financially free while pushing those charitable thoughts down the road. Encourage him to think about how he will love his neighbor when he has made enough money and how charitable he will be then. We used this scheme when Jesus was on earth.  You will remember the story of the Rich Young Ruler.  He was sure he had everything he needed to please the Enemy but we had him by his wealth. You’ll be inspired by that account.

Check out the last post from this perspective:
Screwtape on Smart Phones - A Modern Attempt at a C.S. Lewis Classic

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