Not all people are evil, in this world. Even the bad ones carry some modicum of goodness. This can be quite confusing to some people. But it is as true as all humans were created in God’s image. Humans are basically good. Research on human behaviour is most essential, in this life. What causes humans to behave unethically, or in a wicked manner?
The only reason for keeping quiet when evil is committed is assuming that what affects another person does not affect one. Evil thrives, only where good people choose to keep quiet when evil is committed. Minding one’s business, when evil is committed, can be the most wicket behaviour, by anyone in this world.
The violation of the maxim, “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you,” creates unnoticeable problems, by humanity. The maxim reveals that any form of experienced evil is due to not bothering oneself, with one’s neighbour’s problems. If being attacked by the assailants, I expect neighbours to intervene. It follows that when my neighbour is being attacked by unknown assailants, I have to intervene.
Humans are naturally clear on what is good, as compared with what is evil. Desiring that evil should not be committed on other people, should be the responsibility affecting all men. The issue of altruism assumes the consideration of goodness on other people, more than on self. In other words, my security is dependent upon my responsibility for the security of others.
What currently prevails, especially in Zimbabwe, is blaming other people, without blaming oneself, concerning bad effects on the environment. The deterioration of law and order, clearly, proves the irresponsibility of the entire citizenry. There is no difference between those who commit evil and those who decide to look the other way when evil is being committed. The welfare of another person ensures one’s own welfare.
The teachings of Jesus were basically on the principle of treating one’s neighbour as self. The parable of the Good Samaritan was used as another way of illustrating this philosophy. Theologians need to engage in deep study of this principle, being the primordial study of philosophy and religion.
Nevertheless, there is another parable, slightly different, but covering the significance of treating fellow men, as self. That parable covers three lessons, deduced from it. One of which applies to the basic significance of treating one’s neighbour as self. The parable embraces a story about a shrewd Manager, or a shrewd steward, covered in Luke 16:1-13.
Verses one to eight, show the shrewd manager, having been given the notice to terminate his employment, by his master. He had been found to be wasteful. Having been in charge of his master’s properties, the manager struck a deal with the debtors of that organization. That deal did not mean that he was going to benefit financially. Therefore, he could not be pinned down for corruption.
The Company debtors would be the ones to benefit, at the expense of the Organization. Having been in charge of the company transactions, the manager granted discounts to the company’s debtors. There was no way the business owner could spot anything wrong with such dubious discounts. Nevertheless, the manager had been fired for being wasteful. Therefore, this was to be the last-ditch of his wastefulness—which could not make him guiltier—in any court of law.
The shrewdness of this manager was in recognizing that he would not be prosecuted for his actions. He used this window, to secure his security, serving for his protection after the termination of his employment services. He was then able to take care of his future survival. Reading that story, one perceives an intelligent individual, indeed. Granted the discounts, the debtors would then, look after his future needs, as having relieved their debt burdens.
The first deducible lesson from this parable is the emphasis on the aspect of doing unto others as one would like done to one. He did what was good for the company clients, who undertook to then look after his welfare, after the termination of his employment. This, therefore, shows that when doing well to others, those people feel obliged to take care of one’s future needs.
This was a parable, not necessarily advocating for the wrong behaviour of the shrewd manager. Jesus used this to illustrate the principle of spiritual servanthood. The person who uses his money wisely, caters for Jesus’s brothers, as to be rewarded in future. This is why we have people, to be rewarded in future, although not having been Christ’s brothers.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”(Matthew 25:34-36 NIV).
The shrewd manager was dishonest. But he appreciated that there was no wisdom in wealth accumulation. After granting discounts to the debtors, he could have collected the difference to himself. However, that would have amounted to corruption and could land him in jail. Nevertheless, in this case, no one could prefer charges against him, as benefitting the debtors.
Jesus’s instruction is that, rather than accumulating wealth for self, one should use it to gain friends (Verse 9). In God’s Kingdom, safety comes from one’s beneficiaries, amounting to how much one catered for Christ’s brothers. This is why the maxim “Do to others as you would want them to do to you,” should be treated as vital.
The second lesson covers the aspect of not behaving like the wasteful manager, who used his dubious actions for his future survival. This manager could not be trusted by his master. From verses ten to twelve, Jesus is illustrating the need for being trusted with God’s treasure. Those entrusted with God’s work, now, are expected to be trustworthy and to work diligently.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”(Luke 16:10-12 NIV).
In our physical limitations, God expects us to produce, according to those limitations. However, when becoming wasteful, as unable to maximise our production, according to expectations, one reaps, accordingly. If entrusted with the gift of teaching, one needs to aim at reaching his potential. Whatever the treasure one is entrusted with, one is expected to apply by giving of his best. This is why Jesus emphasized the point of servanthood, for those aiming at being great.
The third and last lesson, given by Jesus, regards folly in considering the value of money, as if as significant as one’s master. Aware of his predicament, the shrewd manager did not focus on the accumulation of money for his future needs. He did not consider stealing or hoarding money for his future needs. But he thought of serving other people’s needs, as anticipating receiving more from them, than bargained for, from their reciprocating hospitality.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”(Luke 16:13 NIV).
Hardly do many people realize that their commitment to accumulating monetary wealth makes them slaves to monetary wealth. They would be slaves of money, although without realizing it. Their behaviour in this life makes them slaves to material acquisitions. They always think in terms of making money. The focus would always be to acquire money, with which to buy properties.
Jesus, therefore, clarified the point that it was impossible to focus on both the accumulation of wealth and serving God, at the same time. A person who loves God does not focus on making money. He thinks in terms of providing service to other people, using whatever talent he might have. This could be using money to support the gospel. Or, alternatively, it could be using one’s talent in whatever possible service to humanity.
The only reason why people think in terms of minding their own businesses, rather than confronting evil, is desiring to be rich. Therefore, Jesus shows that it is impossible to serve two masters. As long as focusing on the accumulation of wealth, without taking the responsibility to address the problems of humanity, one despises God.
However, when taking most of one’s time to address people’s problems, one despises money. Some people wake up as early as three o’clock in the morning, for purposes of accumulating money. Such people have got no time for God. Scheduling for Bible study and prayer, cannot be possible for such people. Let alone the idea of addressing other people’s problems.
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”(1 Timothy 6:9-10 NIV).
There is a Shona maxim, which may have been the cause of all our troubles, in Zimbabwe. (Nhamo yeumwe hairamwirwi sadza) Literally translated, this means. “The problems of another person cannot be the reason why a person can avoid eating.” There is no need to even look at those in government, as being responsible for our problems. Those applying this maxim, in their lives, are the ones who cause all our problems, more than the ruling party.
This is why others, actually, suggest that there is no value in voting because it simply means exchanging looters for the new looters. It is a culture that is embedded in the philosophy that emanates from this Shona maxim. It is viewed as fashionable, to care only for one’s needs, without looking at what is going on in the environment. Sadly, this is what Christianity is assumed to entail.
People with that mindset, rarely think about the effect of not having drugs in Hospitals, assuming that they would not be affected. This makes it the only reason why one thinks of accumulating as much money as possible, for purposes of meeting expenses overseas, just for his own family.
If the public hospitals do not have drugs, the uncaring person takes comfort in that he would not be the one to blame. His own relatives could be taken outside the country, should the need arise. However, the truth remains in that, the lack of drugs in hospitals is directly his responsibility. What did he do, or not do, for the scarcity of medical drugs in hospitals?
As long as blaming others for lack of drugs in hospitals, that person would be blaming God. There is no room for blaming anyone, for the problems faced by humanity. When the disciples sought to blame the multitudes, suggesting that they ought to be dismissed, they were irresponsible. In other words, the disciples found it logical, to suggest that those multitudes should be responsible for their own food.
“Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging because we are in a remote place here.’ He replied, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They answered, ‘We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.’” (About five thousand men were there.) (Luke 9:12-13 NIV).
Typical of ordinary people, the disciples did not understand the issue of responsibility. Christians are in this world, only for one reason, and that is to provide service to fellow men. Christ said Christians were supposed to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
The only way the light shines is when the people’s problems are catered for. The idea of service is senior to everything else. If allowing evil to flourish, because you are preoccupied with your own problems, you are not a Christian. Service is senior to everything.
“Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.(1 John 3:15-16 NIV).
Christianity is not about preoccupation with one’s own problems, assuming that to be what pleases God. It is about occupying one’s mind, with what one does, to make a difference, in the world of confusion. As long as one lives in an environment that is filled with evil, that person would be part of that evil. Although the person would be assumed not to be the participant in evil actions.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99