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