ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: KINGDOM ECONOMICS VIII
How doest thou this great day?
Dost thou take heed to the wherewithal of those about thee? Yea, hath God so instructed thee?
I've often wondered what it would be like to suddenly be thrust back into Elizabethan times and try to converse coherently with people who talk like that. Strange, eh what?
And why is it, do you think, that some folks still think they need to pray in Elizabethan English when they talk to the Lord? Do they think it is somehow more respectful, more holy, more righteous (or what?) to pray using "thee's" and "thou's" and "mightest" and "ye" and "thine" and a whole fistful of archaic English terms? Has God's vocabulary gotten stuck in the English of several hundred years ago?
I sometimes wonder if people get caught in a religious whirlwind or stuck in some kind of a religious box. Do we pray using King James' English because we think it demonstrates our faith -- or, in truth, do we pray that way because we're trying to screw up our willpower screw so as to get faith actually working? Do we think that the Lord won't hear us if we simply say, "Help, Lord!"?
And why is it that some people begin their prayers using these grandiose phrases, like for example, "Oh Gracious and Merciful God of our fathers," or maybe, "Great and Marvelous King of Kings, Lord Jesus Christ, we bow before thee in humility...."? What's that, anyway?
That has about as much influence on the Lord as a slime pit. Think about it for a second. If He is our Father, and He wants us to relate to Him as His heirs and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, then why we try and talk to him in such stilted language? Just imagine coming to your dad and talking to him like that! He'd bust out laughing and reach over to take your temperature to see if you were sick or something. Sometimes I wonder if God reaches out to take our temperature, too!
Hmmmmm...... Don't mind me. Just a little idle musing on my part.
Anyway, it's time to pour some of that fabulous tasting coffee. The French Press is full and running over, and there's still a vitamin or two in the kitchen.
In our last Coffee Break, we wrapped up with Jesus' teaching from Matthew 6:19-34.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?Â Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Throughout sixty-plus years of knowing and walking with the Lord, I doubt there is any passage of scripture that I've heard more misused than this one out of Matthew 6.Â The predominant misuse is to justify the false doctrine that Christians are supposed to live in poverty, or more accurately, that God doesn't want His people living in wealth and abundance because it will keep them out of Heaven.
First of all, Heaven isn't God's objective for us: Jesus is! Heaven has never been an objective in the economy of the Kingdom of God for Christians. Until such time as Jesus returns to establish His thousand-year reign, if you die, and you know and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, there simply isn't any other place to go but Heaven.
Secondly, if the Lord has a problem with Christians living in wealth and abundance, then there are a whole lot of Scriptures that will have to be torn out of the Bible. Here's just a few examples.
Proverbs 10:22: "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." Break this down for a minute from the Hebrew text. It reads like this: "The declaration of the Lord which empowers one to prosper causes an accumulation of goods, and that accumulation comes without the need or addition of painful toil or human labor." (My translation and amplification)
II Corinthians 8:9: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Let's break this verse down from the Greek text. It goes like this: "For you have the revelation of the liberal favor of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, although he was wealthy and abounding with material goods, yet He permitted Himself to be stripped of those riches, taking that indigency and poverty upon Himself [at the Cross] so that you may in turn [on His account] become wealthy and abounding in goods." (My translation and amplification)
Philippians 4:19: "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus." Here's another verse you really need to read in the Greek text. It more accurately renders thusly: "But my God shall cram, furnish and make replete every area of want, requirement, and occasion of need, demand and employment, by, out of, and in direct proportion to His wealth, money, possessions, abundance and riches in Glory [we'll talk about this aspect a bit later] by and through the anointing of the Anointed One Jesus." (My translation and amplification)
Whewww!!! If that isn't a mouthful, I don't know what is!
My purpose and objective today is not to do an exegetical breakdown of the foregoing verses, but rather to give you an accurate rendition of the sense of the Hebrew and Greek phraseology in order to combat a pernicious lie of Satan that has been foisted off on God's people.
I didn't make this up. Anyone with any real knowledge of Greek and Hebrew will tell you that what I've given you is only a taste of whole picture of the Greek and Hebrew phraseology. Anyway, let's get back to Matthew 6.
Whenever you see Jesus talk to people about money, he never once suggests that folks shouldn't have it. Rather, His instruction and command is for people NOT to focus on money. Jesus well knew that whatever captures the focus and attention of people to the place where it occupies the dominant goals or objectives of all that they do, they no longer have money. More accurately, they no longer have treasure. It has them!
When people work for a living, they work for the almighty dollar. It possesses them. It owns them. The focus of their labor is on how much money they will make. Having that money means they can use or spend it on themselves. THEY are their own focus. They've begun worshiping themselves. Worse, they're worshiping money.
In short, it becomes idolatry. Their needs, their wants, their desires -- and the money it takes to get those needs, wants and desires -- becomes their god.
Any professing Christian who works for a living -- and pay attention to my choice of words here! -- is committing adultery. They say they worship the Lord Jesus Christ. They say they honor God. They are supposed to be betrothed to the Lord. He is supposed to be their all in all, their source, their life.
In fact, their job, their needs, their desires, their want for money have all usurped Jesus Christ's Lordship in their lives. They are running away and sleeping with money and trusting it instead of the Lord WHO has already promised that if they would make Him first, seek Him first, and rely on Him in every way, they would NEVER have an unfulfilled need EVER in their lives.
So there is no misunderstanding of what I'm saying, when I
say that any professing Christian who "works" for a living is
committing adultery, the accent is on "working for a living."Â
Jesus set His people free from the necessity of working for a living. This is a key difference between the economy of the
One more clarification is in order. Jesus hasn't delivered us from "work": He has delivered us from the curse associated with it. Our purpose for "work" changes entirely. We now work to give -- not work to live. Jesus has become the source of all we receive and all we have -- not our jobs or our labor.
There are many Christians who say they are "married" to the Lord, that they "love" Him, that they are His "Bride" and yet they trust their jobs, their money-earning ability, and their financial assets to carry them through the hard times. When financial stress comes along, they glom onto their money and hang onto it for dear life. When the Lord prompts them to give, they turn a deaf ear to that prompting.
Let me take this one more step.
One of the touchiest topics among Christians seems to be the whole thing of tithing, giving, and seed-sowing -- and yet tithing, giving and seed-sowing are absolutely integral to the economy of the Kingdom of God. I can't tell you how many Christians I've known who tithe, but their tithing is grudging. Let's take some numbers for our example.
A guy makes $3,500 in gross income every month. From that $3,500 comes his taxes, his social security deduction, his employment security deduction, and -- most likely -- his health insurance contribution. He's left with somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,700 or $2,750 each month in take-home pay. Instead of basing his tithe on his actual income -- which is $3,500 -- he writes out a check for $275, and figures he's done his duty to God.
The fact that the Federal and State governments took out taxes means he doesn't have to pay tithes on what he paid the government? It was still his income! Then there's the insurance deduction.Â This same guy has opted to buy or contribute towards his health insurance, but that's not part of his income that he chose to use?
You see the picture, don't you? It is a stinginess towards God. It isn't a love for the Lord that motivates his tithing: it is duty -- and God isn't interested in people's "duty." If they don't really love the Lord, and trust Him as their source, then their money has become a god to them, and they are committing adultery against the Lord.
We've all heard it -- and I'd bet 90% of us have done it -- "But if I pay my tithes, I won't have enough money to pay my bills!"
Then we get the trite religious cliche: "After all, isn't a good name rather to be chosen than riches or gold?"Â And right along with that one comes, "Isn't it more important to keep a good credit rating before the world?" How about the angry one you get from so many "Christians": "I know, you're just saying this because you want my money! That's all preachers want. This tithing thing is just an excuse to take my money and get rich at my expense. All they want to do is to take those $15 and $20 checks from little old ladies on a fixed income or pension."
We can all cite a thousand such excuses -- and that's all they are: excuses! Miserable and meaningless ones to justify their own fear, their own doubt, and their own belief!
And the people who make these excuses are living in idolatry. They worship themselves. They are self-centered, egotistical, fearful and untrusting when it comes to God's Word.
This is the picture of the world today, folks, and far too many Christians are trying to serve God and Mammon at the same time. Let's revisit again Paul's admonition in II Corinthians 9:7.
"But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
There simply is no point in giving if the giving comes out of any other place than a heart of love, of cheer, of faith and trust in God's Word to you. People who tithe grudgingly and partially and stingily might as well keep their "tithe" for all the good it does them. Folks whose giving is not by faith and driven by love receive no benefit from their giving other than the show they put on for other folks so that the world around them will think of them as "righteous."Â All they do is to salve their own consciences with their partial or stingy giving or tithing.
Let's get to the root of this attitude.
Everything -- and I do mean EVERYTHING -- that this world system, the world economy (Mammon) ingrains us with is predicated on self. It is me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, ad nauseam.
What do I get out of it? How much am I getting paid? What's in it for me? What are my benefits? How will this make me look? How will this affect my health and safety? Will this help or hurt me? How will this affect my relationship with my friends?
We could take this to extremes, but you get the picture.
Everything -- and again, I do mean EVERYTHING -- about the economy of the Kingdom of God is based in love. Everything is based in an attitude of "What can I do for you? What do you need? How can I minister to you?"
Kingdom Economics are totally encompassed by a giving mentality. The Kingdom of God only works by love -- agape love. Agape is not self-centered. Agape is not concerned with "what I get out of it." That kind of thinking is foreign -- alien from another planet, if you will -- to the thinking of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is where I want to pick this discussion up in our next Coffee Break. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday this week and the fact that we will have 36 family members with us, it is quite possible that I won't be able to get the next Coffee Break published until next Monday. Nevertheless, I will try to get it out on Friday or Saturday.
Otherwise, have a fabulous, a joy-filled and peaceful Thanksgiving! See you next time.
The Blessing of the Lord be upon you.
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