There's a lot of talk these days about how
bad things are, and what we should be doing to protect
internet is rich with advice. Some is competent and some is not,
but almost all of it involves applying the ways of this world.
Some advise us to stock up on stuff, so when there's a
shortage we won't run out. Others say we should also buy
precious metals to help preserve the value of our assets when
inflation comes. The
list goes on.
Some of this is OK, but there are a couple of
things we should keep in mind when we're trying to decide what
to do. First, we
should know that this advice assumes that the coming hard times
are only temporary.
You can't stock up for life (or even a few years) and eventually
you'll need to convert your silver and gold back into money. So
you can only think of these things as a bridge between
prosperity past and prosperity future.
But when there's no prosperity future you're only
delaying the inevitable.
Second, the Bible doesn't command us to do
this. In fact it
specifically admonishes us against it. “Do not store up
treasure on Earth,” Jesus cautioned, “For where your
treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21)
And in His ultimate example, He told the
parable of the farmer who had more than his already full barns
could hold, so he tore them down, built bigger ones, and filled
them. Just when he
finally had enough to feel secure and decided he could relax,
the Lord said, “You fool.
This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then
who will get what you have prepared for yourself.”
He finished with this warning.
“This is how it will be for anyone who stores things
up for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke
rich toward God means giving generously to those in need.
Scarcity Vs. Abundance
No matter how we try to justify it, storing
up is an act of selfishness.
And it demonstrates a lack of faith by revealing a
scarcity mentality when the Bible teaches an abundance
Let me explain.
A scarcity mentality says there's only so much to go
around, so if I don't get all I can while I can, some one else
will get it and I won't have enough.
The motives behind the scarcity mentality are selfishness
An abundance mentality says the Lord's supply
is endless, so I can share what I have now because He's promised
to supply all my needs in the future.
The motives behind the abundance mentality are generosity
The Biblical model is based on an abundance
mentality (John 10:10).
It teaches us to use the extra we have to help those who
don't have enough, depending on the Lord who gave us the extra
in the first place to give us more as we need it.
Thanking the Philippians for their gifts, Paul wrote,
“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious
riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).
Notice he said “will meet all your needs”.
We don't give to others solely because God has met all
our needs in the past, but also because He's promised that He
will meet all our needs in the future as well.
The Philippian believers were
hardship themselves, but still found a way to help support
Paul's ministry. This is what Jesus called being rich toward
That Doesn't Make Sense
I realize this all sounds counter intuitive.
When we're barely meeting our present needs the natural
tendency is to use whatever is left over to make sure we can
meet our own future needs.
For many, the last thing on their minds is the plight of
others. They don't see that as their problem.
There are two sources for this kind of
thinking. The first
is called the Protestant Work Ethic. This is a
non-Biblical theory wrapped in a thin veneer of
attributed to the German sociologist and political economist Max
Weber (1864-1920) and holds that hard work is part of God's
calling on our lives and is both a sign of our personal
salvation and a necessary component for receiving His blessings.
It's been summarized by the most popular verse that's not
in the Bible, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
If other people are not being blessed it's because
they're not working hard enough. Helping them out encourages
their “laziness” and deprives them of the blessing they would
receive by working harder.
God's ways are not our ways, and the
Protestant Work Ethic reeks of humanity.
Of course we're admonished to give our best effort at
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as
working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23).
But our generosity toward others is the trigger that
releases blessings for us, not hard work. “With the measure
you use (in giving to others) it will be measured to
you,” He said (Luke 6:38). Paul confirmed this in
2 Cor. 9:6.
this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and
whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
The other source is our government.
Ever since the Roosevelt era, Americans have been told
that our country is too rich and successful to tolerate having
things like hunger and poverty in our midst.
Therefore the government would assume the responsibility
for eliminating these things by guaranteeing a minimum standard
of living. Programs
like Social Security, unemployment insurance, and the various
forms of welfare were all instituted to encourage people to look
to the government for help in times of need.
Once again, we're taught that the plight of others is not
our concern. If people need help, they can go to the government
and get it.
Both of these sources had the effect of
taking God out of the equation so after a couple of generations
of this, most of us no longer see Him as our Provider.
Regardless of what we
repeat with bowed head around the dinner table, the truth
is that too many of us look to ourselves, or if we're among the
41 million people currently receiving food stamps, to our
government for our daily bread.
Two Ways To Go
So there are two approaches we can take in
these uncertain times.
The way of the world is to “Look Out For Number 1” by
trying to stock up enough stuff to see you through the
difficulties ahead, leaving others to fend for themselves or
rely on government help.
The Bible's way is to “Do Unto Others As You
Would Have Them Do Unto You” by seeking out people in need and
helping them with the extra the Lord has provided for you.
If you believe as I do that we're pretty far
into the End Times and things aren't ever going to get better,
but will more likely get worse, then the most practical solution
is to start relying on God right now.
“Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness and all
these things will be given to you as well,” He said (Matt.
6:33). He was
referring to things like what we'll eat and drink, and what
Take some of your excess and find someone you
can help with it. With one out of every 7 home mortgages in
arrears, one out of every 6 employable adults either unemployed
or under employed, and poverty levels at a 15 year high there's
plenty of opportunity.
I've said before that doing this pays the
best return on investment available anywhere.
Your generosity will be rewarded in this world (2 Cor.
9:11) and you'll be storing up treasure in the next one (Matt.
6:19-21). I call that getting double your money back.
But Wait, There's More
In addition, you'll be learning how to live
by faith in the One who has promised to meet all your needs and
who never breaks His word, instead of relying on the
uncontrollable ways of the world.
Then if things get really bad and your neighbors have
exhausted the supplies they stored up, you'll be able to help
them. And in doing so, you'll know from experience that God
is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things
at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every
good work (2 Cor. 9:8).
And finally, you can not imagine the change
in perspective adopting this approach will give you. While
others are plagued with uncertainty, you will experience a peace
that transcends human understanding. Selah. 09-25-01