Sometimes I wonder what God would say to me if He could speak audibly to me?! Would He laugh at my naïve efforts to try to figure Him out … Does He want to slap me upside the head and set me straight … Does He pity my vain attempts to understand Him? And yet, God’s Word says He wants to be known. It also says He is patient, long-suffering, and merciful with our human-ness.
One false concept I think I have wondered about too much is the thought that poverty (or giving up things) equals godliness. Recently I heard a testimony from a wife in ministry, and she was saying how thankful she was that she gave up so much to be in the ministry and that her family learned to sacrifice and “never had a vacation to Disney World”. While I’m not sure exactly how she meant that comment, I immediately wondered if she thought she was more godly for NOT going on lavish vacations … and I felt sad that her kids never were indulged in something that is so much fun! This mind set isn’t exclusive to the Protestant world – think of nuns and monks who take vows of poverty.
Today I had a conversation with a lady from the church we are visiting here in Arkansas … As a missionary to Mexico for many years, she too has gone through some of the questions about reconciling the poverty of 3rd world countries with the excesses of America or how much is too much and what is really enough. What do we need … and how do we accept God’s blessings materially. In the end, it seems to all boil down to the HEART. God can’t bless covetousness … but He sure does supply our needs and often our wants when we want them for the right reasons. And there are seasons – this lady has lived very primitively in Central America … and now has been blessed with a wonderful, large home in a beautiful neighborhood that God gave her family in somewhat of a miraculous way.
Another friend commented on my post the other day in a most wonderful way … and I hope she doesn’t mind that I share it:
I see it like this…working hard, saving, and being good stewards of the talents and money God gives us is freeing. Maybe it frees us from worry–allows us to step away from survival mode and go deeper with Him. It frees us to give more…to our churches and to others who cross our path. If we try to amass as much money as we can just to keep it for our own, I think that’s wrong. But if we give freely from the bounty we have received, I believe it blesses both parties. “Freely you have received, freely give.”
The other thought that comes to mind is that of a parent indulging a child. No, not giving in to every whim or spoiling on a daily basis. But don’t you like to give your children something special and fun once in awhile that you KNOW they’d really enjoy? When I think of our God as a warm and loving father, I think that sometimes, maybe He just wants to give us something that we will enjoy…just as a reminder of His great love for us. I have been blessed beyond measure…by a loving, forgiving, Papa God who spoils me! No, this life is not easy nor should it be taken lightly, but once in awhile I just have to think that He gives us happy little surprises along that way to ease the burden of living in a fallen world. I just want to be sure I’m watching for them so I don’t miss it…and I don’t miss the opportunity to say “Thanks”.
Lastly, just today, I read this post that helped me to learn a balanced approach to managing money. I know I have been holding on to some false guilt for thinking that some people we know may talk about us that we “gave up the ministry” for a secular job … or blame that for my husband’s resignation – but that isn’t true. While it is seemingly more secure, it was just time – for a gabillion different reasons – to come back into the secular work force. The Bible warns us to not trust in horses (Is 31), but to rely on God … We just believe at this time, God will provide for our needs through a secular organization, but our trust is still 100% in God’s provision. And another reminder from my missionary friend is that a Christian can have a ministry anywhere – in a church setting, in a hospital, in their very own home! And thus, I will lay this topic to rest. 😉