Role Of A Money – God’s Perspective
The book of James, talks about the need to practically apply the word of God, in every area of your life, stating very forthrightly that faith without works or conduct that is not in line with it, can bear no fruit in your life. And, it can be done only through a relationship with God, in a covenant relationship with Him, where He has given us His own Son on the Cross of Calvary. Christianity itself is relationship based, where you relate to people and everything in your life, through your relationship with God that comes to you and is built up through His word and His Spirit. It is God’s perspective that you need, in every issue, big or small, that crops up in your life.
About riches and rich men :
Come now, you rich, weep and howl, for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, your garments are moth eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you…. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. [James 5:1-6]
In the first six verses of the fifth chapter, it is the condition of those who are materially and financially wealthy that the apostle addresses, and it is not in very complimentary terms. It seems rather condemning, which is quite puzzling. For, the silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, the Lord has declared [Haggai 2:8] Riches and honor come from Him, is also what the word of God declares. Therefore, how can something that is His and comes from Him be what is not good ? But then again, there is never any contradiction in the word of God. Therefore, there needs to be a wholesome understanding of the truth of God’s word in order to arrive at the right conclusion. For, it is not having money, but hoarding it, and going to the extent of even killing for it, and using it wrongly, which is not pleasing in the sight of God. And when you perceive something wrongly, you will also deal with it wrongly. In one incident, the blind man whose eyes were opened and healed by the Lord initially saw men, but as trees. But, when you perceive a man as a tree, how will you deal with him ? The blind man needed a second touch from the Lord to see clearly, and perceive rightly.
‘Let there be light’:
It was what God spoke, in the very beginning of creation. And there was light. [Genesis 1:3] The light, was the revelation light of God, which in the new creation is described by the apostle Paul to be . For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [2 Corinthians 4:6] And, without this light of God entering into a person, he will continue to perceive and deal with things wrongly in his life. It is then that even the good things that come to him from above, can end up causing him loss and harm.
God’s perspective – The issue of trust :
The word of God very clearly puts across the divine perspective that needs to be in you. It can be seen in what Paul writes in the empowerment of the Spirit to Timothy – Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who richly gives us all things to enjoy. [1 Timothy 6:17] It is not about having riches, but where your trust needs to lie when your riches increase, is what God in his word, points out very clearly here, and also through the words of the psalmist. For it is when you put your trust in your riches, on anything except God, that it becomes idolatry, which ultimately leads to destruction that brings you down in life.
Therefore, the approach becomes very important, for the Bible talks about people like Abraham and Job, being rich, and not in a negative manner. Riches come from God, but when a person becomes wealthy, and that too very suddenly and quickly, it could sometimes lead to arrogance and pride in him. And then, as the word has declared, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
The uncertainty of riches :
There is nothing fixed or stable about the money market, for it can see your financial assets move up and down in their value according to the global economic trend. Sudden and drastic financial meltdowns have seen billionaires become paupers overnight. It is so very vital therefore, to know and understand that putting your trust in your material riches is not a wise thing to do at all. It would be like clinging to a broken reed that could collapse any moment, to also bring you down together with it. But at the same time, the good alternative that God has provided is also something that you must be aware of. For otherwise, Solomon’s wrong philosophy when his heart had strayed away from God can become yours, to declare that everything under the sun, even the good and abundant provision from God to be vanity, that brings no satisfaction and fulfillment in life.
Blessed is the man whose trust is in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. [Jeremiah 17:7] Where your trust lies is the key issue in all circumstances of life. And the Lord very clearly describes the pathetic picture of the man who thinks he has been wise in his planning by building up enough storage and provision that would eliminate worry in him for the rest of his life, without a relationship with God, in being rich towards Him ! [Luke 12:16–21] A rich fool, is how the Lord describes him. And Jeremiah also says, Thus says the Lord, Cursed is he who trusts in man, and makes flesh his strength. [Jeremiah 17:5] For, a curse will not leave you until it brings you down in life. A blessing on the other hand will not rest until it lifts you up in life and then go on to sustain you and increase you that you may prosper.
It is when you trust in the Lord that you experience the blessing of God to live and be secure in your life. Elijah the prophet was led by God to a place of refuge and seclusion, by the brook of Cherith, for the enemy was seeking his very life. At that point no amount of money could have kept Elijah alive. But God kept him safe and also provided for his needs. It is what trusting in God does in your life even today. Without it, even though you may money in your hand, you may sometimes find that you are unable to put it to use.
Riches and money therefore are uncertain and unstable in their very nature. And, it is why trusting in it for your security in life will only end up making you unstable and anxious. Anything that can be taken away from you can never be your security in life. Whether it is your healthy bank account, your house, the people who are around you, they can all take wings and fly sometimes ! But, there is an eternal God who is always there, and has always been there. His presence and His parenthood of you, when you choose to become His child remain eternal. And when such a God is your God, you are blessed indeed ! It is what cannot be seen that is permanent and eternal, while what can be seen is very temporary. Thus, even the troubles of this world, when you are able to perceive rightly, will be in your sight, nothing but a light and momentary affliction gaining for you eternal glory that is permanent. It is the reason why the Lord appreciated Mary, who sat at His feet, to hear His word.
Choosing what cannot be taken away from you :
‘But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the good part, what cannot be taken away from her’. [Luke 10:42] They were the words that the Lord spoke to Martha, who was preoccupied with the temporary, and hence frustrated and disturbed within her. He pointed out to her, the need to choose to trust and rest in what can never be taken away from her. The choice that is in front of you today is the same that Mary and Martha had to make. It is the word of God that can never be taken away from you, and needs to be your security in life. Everything else, including the money that you have is uncertain and temporary, though possessing it per se is not necessarily what God disapproves of.
But, everything that you say and do needs to be a reflection of your trust in God. For, as the old Sunday school song declares, when the joy in you is from the Lord, then nothing or no one can take it away. The joy of the Lord will be your strength, even in situations that have the potential to drain away all happiness in you. You will know that you are loved by the Lord, when your trust is in His word, as Karl Barth the very renowned theologian once summed up the truth of the Bible. In a world where there is trouble, you can be of good cheer, the Lord has declared. For in Him, as you trust Him, you will have peace that is from Him, who has overcome the world. [John 16:33] The writer to the Hebrews also enunciates the bold confession that can be yours when the Lord is your Helper, as you trust Him, and the promise that He has already given in His word. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’. So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my Helper, I will not fear; what can man do to me ?’ [Hebrews 13:5,6]
It will lead you to stay away from covetousness and greed, is the thrust of the passage, to avoid the disastrous picture that James paints about the rich who put their trust in riches that are uncertain. Trusting in it will only bring you down at some point in life, whereas trusting in God will see you stand firm even in stormy circumstances. For, as it is written in God’s word, in the words of the psalmist, that was his experience too, when the king trusts in the Lord, through the steadfast love of God upon him, he is not shaken. [Psalms 21:7] And those who trust in the Lord are like Mt Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever. [Psalms 125:1]
Money is not a treasure but a tool :
This is the godly perception of the money that God has blessed you with, that needs to be in you. For, when you consider it wrongly to be some kind of treasure, you will find it very difficult to use it freely in godly ways. When you look at an expensive perfume that has been gifted to you as some kind of treasure, you will find it very difficult to use it freely for the purpose for which it is intended. It could very well end up sitting on the dressing table, as nothing but an object of display, instead of keeping you free from the smell of perspiration and grime !
When it comes to money, an ungodly hoarding of it can take place, when you draw your security from it, and perceive it to be an invaluable treasure. It can lie hidden and buried instead of being used for the purpose for which God has blessed you with it. But, it is the revelation knowledge of God in the face of Christ that is in you, which truly is your treasure. It is the light of Christ’s Gospel.
Treasure – revelation knowledge & resurrection power :
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. [2 Corinthians 4:7] The treasure that is in you, an earthen vessel, the revelation knowledge of Christ that is in you, is also power, a resurrection power. And it is through it that you remain strong, even in adversity, hard pressed on every side, but not cast down, perplexed but not in despair. [2 Corinthians 4:8] Salvation is the greatest and immeasurable treasure. It can never ever be bought by money. You have been bought by the precious Blood of Christ, redeemed and saved by His death on the Cross. Can anything be greater or costlier than that ?
You are of great value, because a great price has been paid for you. Your value is not based on you; He has given His life for you ! And, He who has given His own Son for you, will He not give you everything else that you need, is what determines your trust in Him, and not on the uncertainty of riches. And, anything that takes the place that needs to be given to God, and only God, will become an idol in your life.
Money is not an idol, but a tool :
It is with a God given perspective that comes from a deep and personal relationship with Him, that you will be able to view money and also deal with it rightly. The spokesperson of a hugely wealthy family, for many generations down the line in the United States of America, had this to say, when asked about the stability and continuity of their wealth, ‘Our fathers have taught us that money is not an idol, but a tool’.
It is when you trust God that you prosper. But, if it leads you to trust in your prosperity, it will become an idol that ultimately brings you down in life. It is the wise counsel of God that comes to the rich, through Paul’s letter to Timothy, where he warns against putting your trust in money, but on the Living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. [1 Timothy 6: 17] The very simple and foundational truth that lies embedded in it is that, what money can give you in life, God can give. But the danger lies when you stop with this truth, and it is sadly what many end up doing. For, this truth has another side to it that is much more important. The vice versa of it would not be the truth. For, what God can give you, money can never give. Money can buy you a house, but only God can give you a home. And, it makes all the difference ! You can buy medicines with money, but only God can give you health and healing. A prudent wife has to come only from the Lord; she cannot be bought with money ! Children are your inheritance from God. Everything teaches you to trust God and use the money that He has blessed you with in ways that are pleasing in His sight, bringing glory to His Name.
The God of abundance :
He is the God who is rich in love, and gives richly to you all that you need in life. The conveniences of life that you may be enjoying, need not fill you with guilt, if they have come in ways that are right and honest. And when your trust is in God, the Possessor and Provider of all, you will not be among the rich who are called to come, weep and howl, and await the miseries that are to come upon them, as James portrays quite unfavorably !
When you become a child of God, receiving Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, you have the right to call Him Abba Father, through the Spirit who indwells you. And, it is the word of the Lord Jesus that He is your Father who knows all that you need in life, and He is also the God who has made all things beautiful in His time. Whatever your need may be therefore, will come to you from Him, in the right way and at the right time, is the rest that can be yours as you put your trust in Him, to not fret but dwell faithfully in His promises. Fix your eyes on Him therefore, as you trust in Him and move forward in life, to be enriched and also to empower others.
Made rich to be empowered & empower others :
Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. [1 Timothy 6:18] It is the next step that Paul sets forth as wise counsel from above, for God does not want you and I to be selfish Christians. He blesses you to be blessed and also be a blessing in the lives of others. Even the spiritual gifts that He has given to you, it is His desire that you use it not just for your benefit and enjoyment, but also to bring joy in the lives of others. A singing voice can be God’s gift to you. But, it becomes a blessing in your life, when you sing to bring comfort and joy in the hearts of others. And, there are many ways in which you can be rich in God. The Lord Jesus in the parable of the rich fool, talks about the importance of being rich towards God, while James in his epistle mentions being rich in faith, and rich in good works. And, when it comes to giving and sharing, it is to share with others that God gives to you. It is also not about giving to others what is remaining, after you have exhausted all options of spending it on yourself ! There may be people of course, who have and do not give. But in your time of need, look to God and not to people. And, God will make even those who do not have to give to you. For in God’s Kingdom everything comes to you by His grace, and you receive it all by faith.
Rich in good works :
Rich in doing good works is scripturally speaking, doing the will and purposes of God. It is to that end, that God blesses you with abundance. And the desire of your heart needs to be to accomplish the will of God in the best possible manner, and not necessarily in the cheapest way. It is the attitude of your heart that determines it, not just the money that you have. The woman who broke an expensive bottle of ointment at the Lord’s feet, not caring about how expensive it was only revealed her attitude of contrite brokenness. It was one that the Lord appreciated, and said, ‘Why do you bother this woman ? She has done a good work for me…For in pouring out this oil on my body, she did it for My burial’. [Matthew 26:10,12] When the costly ointment was broken at the Lord’s feet, it was an investment and not expenditure ! And it is why God blesses you with abundance. It is so that you may live an abundant life to also give in quality and richness. And, with God, it is your attitude that counts.
Sowing and reaping :
Sowing and reaping remains the very simple and fundamental principle in God’s Kingdom, even when it comes to deciding within yourself about how much you want to give to God. His guidelines are very clear, saying, So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. [2 Corinthians 9:7] It is you who decides what you are going to give. And, what ought to determine your decision is declared in the verse prior to it, where God’s fundamental life principle of sowing and reaping is declared saying, He who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. [2 Corinthians 9:6] When your desire is to reap bountifully, He will also give you the seed to sow bountifully. And, through it all it is all about your attitude and trust, not the amount. It is your trust in God, as you give that matters, even as the widow who gave all that she had, which was only two mites was noticed and praised by the Lord. She trusted God, and so can you. For, He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, will He not together with Him, freely and graciously give us all things ? [Romans 8:32] It is also true that God will never force you to sow or give. For, it is a cheerful giver that He loves.
And, how can you give cheerfully ?
It is when a right understanding of the truth is in you. Illustrating it in the context of peace, the words of the Lord may seem puzzling, for it is a challenging situation that He addresses, to say. ‘In this world you will have trouble; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world’. [John 16:33] When you trust in the One who has overcome it all, you can be cheerful and be more than a conqueror in this world, for nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Similarly you can sow cheerfully, when you have the understanding of the truth that He who has given you His own Son, will certainly cause you to reap bountifully. You can sow with joy, and wait with joy, to reap with joy, when you put your trust in the God with whom nothing is impossible. To be generous and willing to share, even in a time of need, will become possible, when you have the right understanding of God and His word. It is what Paul commends the Macedonian church for. And, it is where grace finds a place.
The grace of God bestowed upon you :
We make known to you, the grace of God bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia, that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. [2 Corinthians 8:1,2] Paul bears witness to the noble conduct of the Macedonian church, as a result of the grace of God bestowed upon them. And, ‘you know the grace of God’, he says then to the Corinthian church, words that speak powerfully even to you and I today. For, though they have in plenty, there may be people unwilling to give to God’s kingdom purposes, but even in a condition of lack, a person can give to God, by His grace, to be blessed mightily, also by His grace.
The missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, has narrated an incident in his early days, when it was purely with the empowering of grace that he was able to contribute to a needy family out of his own lack. And the end of his ministry saw more than nine hundred churches planted in china, an astronomical increase, all by the grace of God. But God will never compel you to give, even as the missionary gave to the poor family that day. He will lead you to a place of understanding and trust in Him. And you will have the maturity and strength to do what you are called upon to do, in whatever sphere it may be, all by His grace that has been showered upon you abundantly. The Cross is a covenant of grace.
True Life – by amazing GRACE :
Step by step, the apostle Paul leads to the glorious destination that God wants those who are rich in this present world to experience and enjoy. It happens, as they lay aside their pride, and a trust in their riches, to trust in the God who has richly provided it all to them. It is also when by the grace of God bestowed upon them, and a right understanding of the truth, they become rich in good works, in doing His good and perfect will, ready to give, and willing to share. For they would be then, not hoarding their wealth, but would be, as Paul describes, Storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. [1 Timothy 6:19] This is the majestic plan that God has for your life even today. He wants you to live the true life, the God kind of life that leads to life that is eternal. He does not want you to live merely, like someone who does not know God does. And, having experienced God’s true life in him, and walked in it, Paul is able to lay down the approach to it, when he writes to Timothy, his protégé and son in faith.
Life poured out – Emptying before exiting :
For, I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. [2 Timothy 4:6] ‘My cup overflows’, the psalmist has said. Paul, after having experienced God’s overflowing blessings in his life, knows as he nears the end of his life’s pilgrimage with God, that he is being poured out completely and thoroughly, as an offering holy, acceptable and pleasing unto God. He knows that the time has come for him to go to his own home ! And therefore, Paul concludes with the magnificent epitome, the declaration of faith that crowns it all. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the Righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not only to me, but to all who have loved His appearing. [2 Timothy 4:7,8] This is the true meaning of life. Paul poured out his life as an offering unto God. Christ, on the Cross, shed His Blood until the very last drop, to accomplish all that needs to be done for you and I, and it is why Paul is able to pray and await with glorious confidence, his crown of righteousness. You may be in a situation of lack at present. But, choose to put your trust in the God who is able to bless you with abundance, even as you pour out your life as an offering unto Christ. He gave you His own Son. He will indeed give you everything else that you need in life, together with Him. And as you offer all your thoughts and desires unto Christ, may a satisfying, fulfilling life be your experience. And may you live with divine perspective, a life that is a blessing to others, and also one that richly fulfills and satisfies your desires, even as you accomplish the glorious purposes of God.
In the Name of Christ Jesus Amen.
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