Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Daily Digest #291

Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. —Acts 3:6

Allow me to share a portion of the reading "Jesus' Parables About Money", pp. 9-11:

Jesus Presents the Alternatives
(re: The Parable of the Rich Fool)

Financial questions loom large. If I say goodbye to all my possessions, will the Lord really meet my needs? My head assures me that He will, but my heart is not quite so certain. The writer of Proverbs put it this way: "An anxious heart weighs a man down" (Prov. 12:25). Physically, this is so. As someone has observed, people get ulcers not so much from what they eat as from what eats them. Anxiety also steals emotional peace and removes spiritual assurance.

Telling us not to worry isn't helpful. People who tell us that usually seem either unrealistic, uninformed, or patronizing. The Lord forces us to think about why we are not to worry. First, He said that worry is foolish (Lk. 12:22-24). It is falling into a folly of the rich fool who believed that his life consisted of his possessions. But life is more that food and clothes, and God has promised us that He will care for us, much more so than He does for His creatures, the birds. To worry is foolishly to forget that we are God's valued children and He is our loving Father.

Second, worry is futile (12:25-28). Worry can shorten life, but it can't lengthen it -- and God who gives beauty to the fields will not strip us bare. Anxiety denies the care of God -- and all to no effect. So the alternative is not to be "care-less" but "trust-full". A little bit of reflection helps us to recognize that most worry is about things that can't be changed (the past), things that can't be controlled (the present), or things that might NOT happen (the future). How much better to entrust ourselves to our God!

Third, worry is faithless (12:29-31). To be absorbed with physical and personal needs is ultimately to be captured by unbelief. If the gospel is really true, our lives should be different qualitatively from the lives of pagans.

In this book Run Today's Race, Oswald Chambers observes that "all of our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God." Worry is the product of an inadequate understanding of our Father. He is the One who knows, cares, and acts. The way we look at God determines the way we will look at life, and this will determine what we worry about.

Our great need is to worry about the right thing. What is that? "Seek His kingdom." We do not refrain from worrying. We replace concern about secondary things with concern about the primary thing. Only His Kingdom us worthy of our ultimate concern.

The Siamese twin of anxiety is fear, and the Lord addressed fear in verses 32-34. He told us to take drastic action with our financial resources and possessions. We are not to grasp them or trust them. We are rather to dispose of them by investing them eternally. In fact, the only way we can truly protect our treasure is to invest them in heaven. Our hearts follow our treasure, and if our treasure is in heaven, so will our hearts be. As David Gooding writes, "Heaven is scarcely a reality to a man who is not prepared to invest hard cash in it and in its interests; but by the same token it becomes more of a reality to the man who is" (According to Luke, p.241).

The crucial issue in life is not the amount of our treasure but the location of it. The rich man's treasures were on earth. He was a fool because he built his life around what couldn't last and what really didn't matter. Our call as a disciple is to be rich toward God and to have a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted. D.L. Moody once said, "It does not take long to tell where a man's treasure is. In a 15-minute conversation with most men, you can tell wether their treasures are on earth or in heaven."

No one wants to be called a fool by God. How do we make sure that doesn't happen? We can choose limits, not luxury, so our treasure can be invested in heaven. We can cultivate compassion, not greed. Most of all, we can pursue confidenc in God, not money.

The slogan "In God We Trust" is printed on the American currency. Fine words -- but do we trust God on our money or with our money? Writing of his slim financial resources in a time of escalating needs, a friend said, "If we find ourselves sinking, we will not cry 'uncle.' Instead, we will cry our 'Father' to the One who knows all our needs and possesses all resources." Such a person has learned the wisdom of God. End.

I wish I could continue typing, but I decided to share just the part that made the most impact in me. I hope that you read on. The reading presents 3 parables about money, and I have gained deeper understanding since I last read the Scripture passages myself. May we make time to reflect on our lives, assess our priorities and be blessed with wisdom to know what truly matters. Have a worry-free and fruitful day. Pray always. God bless!

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