In part one of “becoming rich toward God” I shared my testimony of how I came to the decision to resign from my job last year to pursue serving God in different ways. I would like to draw your attention to a principle that is the foundation of everything that we will be speaking about in the weeks ahead. If we cannot accept and apply this principle then I’m afraid we will not be able to view our possessions correctly. This principle is about understanding the difference between God’s ownership and our stewardship. This blog will focus on God’s ownership.
PRINCIPLE #1: GOD OWNS EVERYTHING
One of my favorite Christian bands is a band called “Casting Crowns”. In their song American Dream they describe a man called Jack, a symbolic representation of the masses of humanity, who spends his life chasing the American dream. What is that dream? I think that Jack himself, in the song, verbalizes this dream well when he realizes what he’s been pursuing all his life “whoever dies with the most toys wins”. That my friends does not only describe the American dream it describes a worldwide dream- It described my dream! Perhaps if you’re honest it describes yours to…
Now before you associate me with another monk who sold his Ferrari to pursue a life of solitude and quiet meditation let me be clear: There is nothing inherently wrong with pursuing possessions. God has given us all things to richly enjoy! The problem however is that we tend to over-prioritize earthly possessions. Listen to Paul’s warning “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches…” (1 Timothy 6:17b). Paul is warning all the “Jacks” of the world not to set their hope on the so-called dream that life is all about gaining more “toys”. The reason being is that earthly toys are “uncertain”. In other words, they are temporary and mutable. Banking on these things is like building a castle upon sinking sand!
We need to maintain an eternal perspective on our earthly possessions. The Apostle Paul helps us to do this by reminding us that we brought nothing into this world and we cannot take anything with us when we die (1 Timothy 6:7). This reality provides a hefty blow to the “whoever-has-the most-toys-wins” dream because it reveals the true nature of that dream. It is nothing more than an empty illusion in the end. No one can hold on to their toys in as much as they can hold onto the wind. Instead of living with clenched fists we must learn to live with open hands. The clenched fist is an attitude that believes that everything in our hands is rightfully ours whilst the open hand attitude believes that everything is from the Lord. Yet you might respond hesitantly to the truth that “everything” is the Lords? I think the Bible provides a unanimous decision on the matter. Read these verses below and ponder their truths:
1. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).
2. Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it (Deuteronomy 10:14).
3. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
4. Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine (Job 41:11).
5. Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:35-36).
6. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine (Psalm 50:10-12).
And for those of us who actually think that we have earned our possessions because of our own hard work and dedication need to remember that God even grants us our money-making skills and determines how much of his wealth he will entrust to us:
7. “Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
8. “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up” (1 Samuel 2:7).
In concluding, the foundation of becoming rich toward God is knowing that He owns it all anyway. We brought nothing into this world and we cannot take anything with us. How then should we view our possessions? We’ll answer this question next week.