It Is Not Only Important HOW You Make Wealth, But Also What You DO With It
Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the Earth (with the exception of Jesus Christ), provided some insight into work:
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat–
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Solomon understood that there was more to life than merely acquiring wealth. Security and prosperity come from the Lord, and not from our own endeavors. When we take on the responsibility for trying to obtain what we believe is needed in order to live, we end up wasting our lives in vain by spending inordinate amounts of time and energy in pursuit of money and possessions that inevitably end up in the hands of others.
God has given us a Commandment to obtain our wealth through His proscribed ways:
When we steal, we are coveting that which God has not directly nor indirectly provided to us. It is a violation of His law of conduct between a person and society, as well as that person and God. When we steal from others, it deprives them of what God has permitted them to obtain through their endeavors, whether legally or illegally. Secondly, it says that we do not trust God to provide for us in our time of need. Finally, it indicates that not only are we not content with what God has provided for us, but that we have greed and covetousness in our hearts.
It is better to be poor with integrity than to be rich and a fool.
Work for Wealth
Work expresses itself differently in everyone’s lives. In this case, Paul indicates that we should all be doing something with our hands to generate wealth. This is not a call to manual labor per se, but rather a call to use the gifts and talents that God has provided each and every one of us with in order to both do something that is legal (both in terms of man’s law AND God’s law) and that is desired by other people who are willing to trade either money, labor, or goods in exchange.
If you do not know what specific special skills God has provided to you for His glory and your monetary enrichment, seek the Lord in prayer and fasting for the answer. Then, when God provides the insight, set your mind towards the goal of honoring and glorifying His name in that venue, giving all glory to God who has provided You with both the skill and opportunity. Placing God first in this will surely honor and glorify His name, regardless the outcome. And your dedication will be noticed by others who are in the position to promote you and use the abilities that you have been given for greater use and economic enrichment.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Saving and Spending
There are only four things that you can do with money:
- Spend it
- Save it
- Invest it
- Give it away
In each of these, there is value. Paul shows us here that there is value in giving some of it away. God provides to us, and we should share as God places it upon our hearts with those who are encountering difficulty. And while wisdom and discernment should be used when giving to others, we should give to others.
Those who live by thievery do so from self-serving motives – whether it is the thought of self-preservation (food, shelter, clothing) or greed and covetousness, it reveals where our hearts are. Paul encourages those who now obtain their wealth through work to not only think about themselves, but also those who need assistance.
We are told many times in Scripture to help widows and orphans. In the time when Scripture was written, those were the two most vulnerable segments of humanity within society. Widows had no protection of a husband, and orphans had no family with which to provide them with basic necessities, guidance, skills, and resources for opportunity.
The opportunity to help those less fortunate than ourselves is a characteristic that God wishes to foster in each and every one of us. And it is unnatural to one who has been rejected by society with no prospects of earning money to be compassionate towards others as they were starving or otherwise at the mercy of the physical rigors associated with homelessness.
Saving some of the wealth that we have earned is paramount to a measure of security. And while we do not place our trust in the money that we have, from an emotional standpoint it is much easier to do our work when we don’t have to concern ourselves with the thought that we will be unable to meet our financial obligations as we frugally seek to stay away from debt.
Sharing and Shaping
In order to share with others, we must first have something to share. This is a secondary benefit of dedicating part of what we have earned (and what has not be confiscated by our government in taxes for their continued efforts). Good stewardship reveals itself in how we conduct ourselves and our finances. Setting aside “for a rainy day” is one of them. Setting aside for the betterment of others less fortunate is another.
Additionally, it develops within us the ability to control our desires. When we say “NO!” to the voice in our heads that tell us that we need something right now, we are better able to say “NO!” when something truly important occurs in our lives that requires us to have self-control.
A good rule of thumb to use when you believe that you absolutely, positively, MUST have something RIGHT NOW is to ask yourself some questions:
- Will I or someone else be severely impacted in my/their physical well-being if I do not purchase this right now?
- Is this something that I absolutely need (as opposed to something that I want)?
If you answer yes to either of these questions, you may need to purchase it. Now ask yourself the following questions:
- Can I live without this (forever)?
- Can I live without this for at least a week?
- Will I be financially indebted or exposed to financial ruination if I choose to purchase this right now?
If the answer to all of these questions are “No’, then you probably need to purchase it right now.
If your heart is still set on purchasing something that you want and do not need, then give your emotions a hiatus. Place purchasing the item on probation for a period of time, perhaps a month, or if very expensive, six months. You may find that after a period of time, your desire for what you want to buy may change. And if it is something that you really desire, you will be in a better place emotionally to get it at the best price possible. Advertising and sales try to emotionally involve you in your purchasing decisions. “90% off offer only today!” is very enticing not only from the perspective of getting a bargain but also from the knowledge that you will have it immediately.
The principle here is self-control over our desires. Each of us should develop this so that we can better react to the triggers that we face when in the world – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. When we can get these things under the control of the Holy Spirit, we are in a much better place to be trusted with additional resources by God for His glory.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I able to exert self-control when presented with the opportunity to be immediately gratified?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are to be praised, for You show such great self-control especially given the grievous nature of my sin. You patiently wait for me to repent, and lavish your grace and mercy upon me. You provide for my every need, and even some of my desires. Help me, Father, to learn the self-control that will help me to be more useful in Your kingdom. Keep my heart from worldly desires, and help me to fix my eyes upon Jesus, to look full in His wonderful gaze. Remember me in my weakness, for when I am weak, You are strong. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.