Russell and Duenes

God Is Very Generous, and Other Reflections On Money

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1. God is very generous. In Genesis 1:29 God says that he gave Adam and Eve “every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” God enriched Abraham, Joseph, David and Solomon greatly. In Deuteronomy 14 God told his people to eat and enjoy the tithe they were offering. He gave the Promised Land to the Israelites. Jesus told us to seek God and His kingdom first and foremost and all things needful for us would be given us as well. Jesus also said: “How much more will your Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him?” St. Paul told the Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Also, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:8). Indeed, “all things belong to you.” And finally, God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 

2. God gives generously to His people so that we might generously bless others with God’s gifts, not hoard them for ourselves. God gave Israel the Promised Land so they could bless others. In Luke 6:34-35, Jesus tells us to lend, expecting nothing in return. Jesus says to “win friends for yourselves through the use of money.” Christians are to use their resources to further God’s “Great Commission” to “go and make disciples of all the nations.” Jesus has told us that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). God gives to us in abundance so that we might be equipped for every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8). St. Paul exhorts Timothy to “command the rich to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Tim. 6:18).

3. God expects people to work to gain money, and work is good, not a necessary evil. Genesis 2:15 states that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to “cultivate it and keep it.” In Proverbs 10:4, God says that the slack hand leads to poverty “but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” “He who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys.” (Prov. 18:9). “The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing.” (Prov. 20:4). “The desire of the sluggard puts him to death for his hands refuse to work.” (Prov. 21:25). St. Paul says that the thief should quit his thieving and labor for good with his own hands so that he might have something to share with those in need. (Eph. 4:28). Paul also says, “Even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.”

4. A sign of a redeemed person is that he or she is a faithful steward of God’s material gifts, sharing with those in need. God gave Old Testament laws about not plowing to the edge of your field, not going over your field more than once, paying wages as they were needed by the laborer, not charging interest to fellow Israelites, obeying the Jubilee statutes about freed slaves and returned land, etc. God tells us to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God,” which certainly includes doing justice with our resources. Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures here on earth, but to sow generously. St. James asks the question: “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (James 2:15-16). St. John says: “Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:17-18). Our Lord tells us: 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).

5. The desire to get rich and the pursuit of being rich is foolish, ultimately futile and spiritually deadly. Remember that God is the one who provides for us, “otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deut. 8:17-18). Jesus exhorted us about the following: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth.” “You cannot serve God and money.” “The worries of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” “How hard it will be for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” “You fool! Tonight your life is required of you, and all your things, whose will they be?” St. Paul reminds us: “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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.” (1 Tim. 6). St. John tells us to “love not the world, neither the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him…The world is passing away and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).

6. Jesus does not promise us riches in this life; in fact, he promises and commands us suffering and loss for the sake of the gospel. Jesus says, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” “Whoever does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” “Blessed are you poor” “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it for eternal life.” St. Paul said, “Have the same attitude among yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus . . . who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” The author of Hebrews reminds us that faithful men like Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; they shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (Heb. 11:32-38).

7. Our ultimate motivation and joy in all matters economic and financial should be to glorify God by making others glad in God. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31). “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. chs. 8-9). “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24).

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

March 28, 2015 at 3:36 pm

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