Thursday, April 14, 2016
We have to have it, and there is no doubt that not having enough money is not only a source of great distress to many, but poverty is known to be a significant source of emotional and physical health problems as well—poverty is even known to cause death—sometimes on a massive scale (that is not to say that there are many happy and healthy people who may also happen to be poor).
That being said, no one can deny that having more than “just enough” money does indeed make life easier and sometimes a bit happier for some, while not necessarily so for others.
Most have heard the saying found in the Bible: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” How do we reconcile this saying with another in the Word of God which says: “But thou shall remember YAHWEH ELOHIM for it is HE who gives you power to get wealth…THAT HE MAY ESTABLISH HIS COVENANT (Deut 8:18)?”
The first, we see, is self oriented, and the second God oriented. When we are after all we can get for ourselves, others always suffer—one way or another. But when our focus is on God, others always benefit, because God is love. We are told that there are three things we have access to, now, that will transcend time and follow the Christian into eternity. Those three things are faith, hope, and love, and Bible tells us that the greatest of these, is love.
How do we apply this truth to money and provision? To most people money is a highly personal matter. They take their money very seriously—one way or another. And the Bible has much to say about money. So it behooves us to understand how we can rightly discern the Word of God on this very important subject. Thank God, the Bible, on the subject of money, is really very simple.
Christians live in every conceivable financial strata. Some are rich (the majority are not wealthy, though plenty are), and some are poor. And most will fall somewhere in between. All, at some point in their lives, will know what it feels like to experience financial need. But we can be comforted by the words of Christ when he said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you.”
Does this mean that we devote our lives to only spiritual pursuits to the exclusion of everything else? Of course it doesn’t, we know that would be foolish—unless, of course, we are specifically called of God to do such a thing—and some are. Let’s balance this statement of Jesus with the passage that says, “Consider the ant you sluggard consider her ways which having no guide or ruler provides her food in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” And also with the verse that says, “They that do not work do not eat.”
There is no denying that we see a clear parallel in the Bible between work and financial provision. Even the apostle Paul referred to his work as a tent maker. But what about those who cannot work? And when we look around us, we also see that there are many hard working people who struggle financially.
Why is that?
One reason for financial difficulty, to the hard working Child of God, is debt. Many have struggled financially for that very reason, in spite of the fact that the Bible explicitly admonishes the Christian to avoid debt by owing no one anything but to love them. Another reason for financial struggle to the hard working Child of God, is that we live in a fallen world. The enemy of our souls is determined to overthrow our faith--even our lives—If he can. God knows how to add to our income when it is not enough to make ends meet. And he counsels us through His word to build our knowledge and faith in the area of His provision—note that I just said KNOWLEDGE and faith.
The Word of God illustrates for us examples of how our attitudes towards and treatment of our money and possessions can affect all parts of our lives—for the good or for the bad—and not just the financial parts. Our money can serve as a god for us—separating us from the intimate counsel of the one true God. Or it can serve as a way to bring us closer to God, as it does when we worship him by his Spirit and by his Word of Truth when we obey his commands to give—to both God and to the poor and needy.
Nabal is an example of a man who allowed his possessions to create a gulf between him and God. David and his band of armed men had a need to eat. Nabal was so hateful and greedy with his food (of which he had in an over abundance), that he died of a stroke when he found out that his wife, Abigail, had gone behind his back in taking food to David and his army.
Abigail knew she was married to a fool who would get them all killed if he had his selfish way. You can read about this in the 25th chapter of 1st Samuel. It is fascinating.
Psalm 41:1-3 Promises that if we consider the poor (in providing for their needs, including giving them money), we can be assured of God’s provision and deliverance in times of trouble and calamity (all calamity is not money related). When sickness strikes, we have a promise of healing that is directly related to giving to the poor. Read about it. Psalm 41:1-3 contains that amazing promise to God’s people.
Speaking of the Nation of Israel, God said, “I will abundantly bless her provision I will satisfy her poor with bread.” He also said, and I will paraphrase here, “If you love and serve me I will bless your food your water your children your garden I will take away all sickness from the midst of you and you will not die before your time.” Read it. It is found in Exodus 23:25-27.
Serving God includes giving money.
But that is Old Testament you say? We agree. The Children of Israel had a fantastic Covenant with their God—who also just happens to be our God—the God who is the same yesterday today and forever. And doesn’t it say in the book of Hebrews that although the Old Covenant was good, the New Covenant is even better, as it is based on even BETTER promises? That’s Bible!
God said through the prophet Malachi, that if we are selfish and stingy with our money, and do not allocate God his portion, that we are robbing God. Haggai wrote that, “You have sown much and reaped little you eat and you are still hungry you drink and you are still thirsty you have clothes but they are not warm enough you earn wages and put it in bags with holes—Thus says the LORD OF HOSTS—Consider your ways!
There are many ways we serve God. The most important is to know His Son. After that we build on our foundation of faith in many ways. One of those ways is looking at our money in a new and a better way.
Every good thing we have comes from God. Money is a blessing to most. It is a curse for some. God warned that too much money is a curse to all. How about that? Consider this, when ancient Israel demanded a King, so they could be like all the nations surrounding them, God gave them what they asked for, but He warned their Kings, because he knew they would be in the best position to accumulate wealth, not to “greatly multiply” that wealth to themselves.
God is not a respecter of persons. If the Kings Israel were commanded not to do it, then we can rest assured, that greatly multiplying financial wealth to ourselves cannot be a good thing for any of us.
Remember, we balance the command not to greatly-key word, greatly—multiply our personal financial wealth against many conditional promises that God indeed wants us to prosper and get wealth. So obviously there is a difference between the prosperity of God—which can include financial wealth—and the love of money (which is the root of all evil) which would cause some to GREATLY multiply money to themselves.
God never said money was evil or that having it makes us bad, although it can tempt some who have it to use it in ungodly and unhealthy pursuits. The Bible promises that God loves us and will provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory. We are admonished to do the work God has given us to do, whether it be a secular job, or a ministry job—or both. God’s word says it is God will for us to be in good health and to prosper—and to trust God in all things.
The writer of Proverbs said it well when under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he penned the words, “Give me neither poverty nor riches feed me with food just right for me lest I be full and deny thee and say Who is the LORD or lest I be poor and steal and take the name of my God in vain.