Friday, October 21, 2016

Faith versus money

Faith versus money

The word was out. A particular prison was highly successful in bringing inmates to Christ. An investigation was made, to find which prison ministry was responsible. After months of inquiry, they found out the prison ministry itself was wondering what was happening. At the end of the investigation, they discovered that it was the warden who was responsible for turning the prisoners around. The warden was a man who feared God. He shared the gospel with his inmates and even prayed for them and with them.

Immediately, a Christian radio station arranged for an interview. The man shared his testimony giving Christ the glory for his success in turning these inmates around. When asked about a budget and planning, the warden almost exploded, "What are you talking about, Budget? Planning? Do you realize that budget is the biggest excuse people give not to do the work of whichGod is convicting them? Budgets are also the excuse to do work we have no business doing. We do not have a budget. We have the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit." Speechless, the interviewer, sheepishly went to a break.

What does God's work need to move forward: money or the Holy Spirit? In today's world, all things require money. Even, church activities and programs run because there is money; hence, the need to always ask for money in our services. The dependence on money has replaced our reliance on the Holy Spirit. Time spent praying is now spent developing ways to acquire funds and planning activities and programs.  Doubt or presumption have taken the place of Faith.

There is no wonder the author of the lesson asks the questions, "How should we understand this saying? ("Sell what you have and give it to the poor" Luke 18:22.) Was Jesus advocating a redistribution of wealth for all Christians in all times and places? What practical problems would arise if we carried out His injunction? Take any given community, in which all Christians have sold all their property and given the proceeds to the poor, what now is the economic status of those Christians? How do they support themselves and their families? And how,  for example, do they now get the means to carry forward the rest of Jesus' mission to take the Gospel to new frontiers?

The answer to that clearly is that if we live by faith as those in apostolic times did, we would not worry about money. As Christ told the disciples in Matthew 6:31-34,

Matthew 6: 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Matthew 6: 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Matthew 6: 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6: 34 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.

In their case, God provided through others. They learned to live by faith. God spoke; they listened and believed His promises. They trusted that God would provide. They lived by the definition of faith that says, "Faith is the expecting the Word of God to do what it says and the waiting and depending on that word to do what it says."

On some occasions living by faith meant for the brother or sister to work for money. Notice Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. They were tentmakers (Acts 18:3). Paul was very candid about why he worked. He did not want to burden the brethren. Selling what you have and giving it to others does not preclude working. If indeed, it is what God wants you to do. In other words, running a business or having a job may require as much faith as not working and depending financially on others. Working or running a business may expose you to others who need to hear the gospel.

David concluded in Psalms 20 that "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:7 NIV). Zechariah reached a similar conclusion, "So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty" (Zechariah 4:6). Many men trust in things this they have or have acquired. But, those who "truly" love God will trust Him.
Raul Diaz