April 9, 2015

God’s plan for financial stability

Deuteronomy 15:1–17:20; 2 Corinthians 4:7–18; Psalm 37:1–22

Just to affirm that “God’s ways are not our ways” comes these two verses from the Old Testament that tell how God wanted His people Israel to deal with debt . . .

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed . . . . For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.” (Deuteronomy 15: 1–2, 6)

This is radical stuff. Imagine the difference it would make in everyone’s life if all debts were cancelled every seven years and none of God’s people could borrow money, only lend it. I wonder how many Christians know about this plan regarding debt. I wonder how many of us have figured out why we don’t follow it.

A clue to the why question is in these two verses. They are telling God’s people what to do it a poor person comes asking for money, not a typical beggar, but a brother who is down and in a bad place, without money and needy. This is what God says . . . “You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’” (Deuteronomy 15:10–11)

The hint is there . . .  what keeps us from adopting this astonishing plan? Grudging hearts toward the poor, and while it doesn’t say it, the truth is, most of us are too greedy, too afraid that if we give generously, we will go without. Dare we admit that we secretly believe God will not take care of us?

I’m using the ‘royal we’ because this is so common, and because I’m part of the motley crew that sometimes doubts the goodness and generosity of God. When that happens, I have to do some serious talking to myself. The Bible says the most amazing thing about God’s promises for my needs: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31–32)

God gave Jesus up for me. Not only that, God gave Jesus to me. He lives in me. That is the greatest treasure and even greater because I did nothing to earn or deserve Him. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

For that reason, I can look beyond the temporary, beyond the external things of life, beyond my own needs. Isn’t God sufficient to take care of all that and more? Of course He is.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

I can give away whatever needs to be given for only one reason; my God knows what I need, and if I give away something that I need, one way or another He will give it back to me or see that I get another one. That includes every dollar, never mind all the other stuff that is possible to give away.

Along that same line of thinking, the psalmist says, “The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.” (Psalm 37:21–22) This means that the Lord is Lord of all, and not only that, He is a perfect financial adviser!

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