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Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for April, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

THIS VEXING ISSUES OF MONEY

THIS VEXING ISSUE OF MONEY

The issue of money has got to be one of the most troublesome areas of life. When is enough, enough? How much do I save? Invest? Give away? How do I stay (or get) out of debt? What is debt? What is the balance between prudence and generosity? How do I know whether I am being greedy or generous? Let’s be raw honest: Reading Matthew 6:19 – 34 leaves us unsettled. Can Christ be serious? He seems so relaxed…almost caviler about this money thing. To be sure, Jesus clearly warned us that there is no compromise on this subject: ” No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money .” (Matt. 6:24) In this passage, it seems to me that Christ is addressing three areas of tension:

Hoarding verses generosity : “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.( Matt. 6:19-22)

Imagine that tomorrow morning you learned that all your assets had been wiped out. Period. What would your reaction be? Panic? Anger? Worship? I suspect that your reaction would be a barometer as to whether you are stockpiling or generous as it relates to the resources God has given you to steward. Upon learning of his losses, Job “fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” (Job 1:20b-22)

Coveting verses contentment : “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have.” (Matt. 6:22, 23 – Message)

I drive a ten year old Volvo with 113,000 miles on it. I’m told it will give me excellent service easily through another 100,000 miles. Several of my friends are purchasing a particularly popular new model of car. Hey, it’s gorgeous! In fact it glistens! Everything works…perfectly! And it’s in style. How do I know when I am content and when I am coveting? For example, how do I understand the balance between 1 Timothy 6:6 and 17: “Godliness with contentment is great gain…God…richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” So…do I pour my resources into a new(er) car or delay, so that I can respond to some of the needs that continually confront us, such as the one that recently came from a friend in a third world country: “ Our little preschool has about 25 children on the list. There are still many children who are out-of-school. Many parents cannot send them to a preschool. We ask a donation of (U. S.) twenty eight cents a day, or six dollars a month. No pay – no school…”

Worrying verses believing : “…Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?…Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:25-27,34 – Selected)

At some point I must settle the question as who truly is my provider? God or me? Abraham had already settled that issue when God called him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Said he to the servants accompanying him to the mountain, “ We will worship and we ( Isaac and I) will come back.” (Gen. 22:5) As Isaac and Abraham approached the sight for the sacrifice, Isaac quizzed his father as to the sacrificial lamb. To which Abraham replied, “God will provide the lamb.” (Gen. 22:8) Is it fixed at the core of your being that God will provide your needs…even in the 11th hour, as he did with Abraham? Or do you live with a chronic, subliminal gnaw in your gut that God might not come through for you?

Conclusion : Because God understands our earthbound nature, and our need for provision, He promises to meet our legitimate needs with this proviso, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (vs. 33) That is, He invites us to make Him our primary pursuit, as evidenced by holiness of heart and purity of life. When we do, He assures us that the necessary stuff of life will naturally follow.

QUESTION : In your heart of hearts have you settled the issue that your primary purpose in life is the pursuit and knowledge of the Holy One? Is knowing Him your consuming passion? Or are you still wallowing around in fear and anxiety as to where the resources for survival or opulence will come from? Just what does your daily schedule reflect about your priorities? One of idolatrous pursuit of the temporal? Or of a passionate pursuit of the Eternal One?

This week may you experience His grace, peace and protection!

R. Dwight Hill

*Original Facts date August 4th, 2009

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WEALTH- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT IT? (PART #3)

WEALTH – WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT IT? (Part #3)

Dear Colleague,

Here’s Yogi Berra”s perspective on money’s changing value, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

On a more serious note, B. C. Forbes makes this poignant observation on the effect money can have on us, “How many men I know who are earning dollars aplenty, but who are really earning little of what counts. They are so overwhelmingly engrossed in business that they get nothing from their dollars. The Juggernaut of dollar-making has crushed out of them every capacity for genuine enjoyment, every grace, every unselfish sentiment and instinct .”

The Scriptures teach:

Wealth is allowed by God in the lives of people of His choosing : For example, Joseph of Arimathea, “…There came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.” (Matt. 27:57) Other would include Abraham (Gen. 13:2,6), Isaac (Gen. 2612-14), Esau (Gen. 36:6,7), Solomon (I Kin. 3:13), and Job (Job 42:12) “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.” (Prov. 22:2)

Wealth can be used as a great source of blessing to others : “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (I Tim. 6:17-19)

Wealth can create short memories as to its source (God): “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.” (Dt. 8:10,11) (See Prov. 30:8,9)

Wealth can lead to a life of worthless indulgence : “…The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Lk. 12:16B-21) (See Jer. 17:11; Matt. 6:19,20; Lk. 6:24; 12:33; 1 Tim. 6:17-20)

Wealth, and our lust for it can deceive us into believing that its accumulation is the answer to life’s meaning : “…Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Lk. 12:15b)

Wealth and our love and pursuit of it is inherently self-destructive : “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (I Tim. 6:9,10) (See Prov. 15:27; 29:4; Isa. 5:8-10; Jer. 17:11)

Wealth has the potential of seducing us into putting our trust in it rather than God :The rich think of their wealth as an impregnable defense; they imagine it is a high wall of safety. (Prov. 18:11 – NLT) (See Job 31:24; Psa. 49:6; 52”7’ Prov. 11:28; Matt. 13:22; I Tim. 6:17)

May you experience His grace, peace and protection this week.

R. Dwight Hill

*Original Facts date January 10th, 2006

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

WEALTH- WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT IT? (PART #2)

WEALTH – WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT IT? (Part #2)

Dear Colleague,

What is the balance we are to maintain when it comes to money issues? Can I enjoy it without loving it? Can I enjoy it without guilt and without being drawn in by it? Are their any guidelines?

Here’s Joe Louis’ perspective, “I don’t like money actually, but it quiets my nerves.”

And Kahlil Bibran, “Money is like love; it kills slowly and painfully the one who withholds it, and it enlivens the other who turns it upon his fellow man.”

The Scriptures teach :

Wealth, when given by God is to be enjoyed : “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God…A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecc. 5:19; 2:24,25) (See 1 Kin. 3:13; Ecc.6:2)

Wealth, and our love of it can keep us out of God’s Kingdom : “Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, ’Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’.” (Matt. 16:20-24)

Wealth can breed pride when we take credit for its accumulation, rather than honoring God as the provider : “…When you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt…You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’” (Deut. 8:12b-14a17) (See Dan. 4:29-33)

Wealth can lead to a life of selfish indulgence that can cost us our souls: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’” (Lk. 16:19-28)

May you experience His grace, peace and protection this week.

R. Dwight Hill

*original Facts date January 3rd, 2006

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

WEALTH – WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT IT? (Part #1)

Dear Colleague,

Perhaps some of us share Woody Allen’s confused perspective: “If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a deposit in my name in a Swiss bank account.”

On a more serious note, Robert J. McCraken comments, “Get to know two things about a man – how he earns his money and how he spends it – and you have the clue to his character, for you have a searchlight that shows up the inmost recesses of his soul. You know all you need to know about his standards, his motives, his driving desires, his real religion.”

Many believers in Christ wonder if is it OK to be wealthy. Is it more spiritual to be relatively poor or of modest means? How do I deal with the success when it comes my way? Is it God’s blessing, or should I feel guilty about it? How do I keep the balance between enjoying the material blessings and not being corrupted by greed and pride?

The Scriptures teach,

Wealth may be the result of hard work, or the special blessing of God : “Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich…The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” (Prov. 10:4; 10:22). “God said to Solomon, ‘Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for personal wealth and honor or the death of your enemies or even a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people, I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. And I will also give you riches, wealth, and honor such as no other king has ever had before you or will ever have again!’” (2 Chron. 1:11,12) (See Deut. 6:10,11; Prov. 13:4; Hos. 2:8; 1 Cor. 15:58)

Wealth can be used to enhance our relationship to God and bless others : “ And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints…Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:7)

Wealth carries with it the potential for certain sins such as pride (1 Tim. 6:17), oppression of the poor (Jms. 2:6), selfishness (Lk. 12 and 16), dishonesty (Lk. 19:10), conceit (Prov. 28:11), and trusting in it for security. (Prov. 18:11)

Wealth and God cannot be equally served: “No servant can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.” (Lk.16:13) (See Josh. 24:15; Rom. 6:16-22; 8:5-8; Jms. 4:4; I Jn. 2:15,16)

Wealth can be a seductive force for those ministering for God : “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve…There are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain. ” (I Pet. 5:2; Tit. 1:10b,11) (See 1 Tim. 3:2,3,8)

May you experience His grace, peace and protection this week.

R. Dwight Hill

*original date of Facts December 29th, 2005