Changed By Glory

"And we all… beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." II Cor. 3:18


January 2010

Godly Stewardship In an Era of Globalization

How are we faithful in unrighteous wealth? Many use this as an excuse to save money and invest it, thus increasing your wealth, but the prior parable shows that this is not how a son of light uses his wealth, but he uses it for those things which are eternal. This is faithful management of earthly wealth for the believer. If a believer cannot give away and invest in what is eternal, God will not entrust such a one with true, spiritual riches. Thus when challenged in the area of say, missions, they will say “That is not my ministry” and right they are for until they can learn how to manage their earthly possessions in an eternal way God will not entrust them with a place in his great eternal purpose. What they do not realize is the money which they thought they had was not theirs to keep. No one can serve God and money.

The message is not popular. The religious men of that day were no doubt faithful to tithe, but they loved money and it was proved in the way they used what they had. We justify ourselves before men with the excuse of using sums of money for that which is eternal, yet the lifestyle we lead proves where the majority of our money and earthly affections go. The dilemma is that God knows the heart (Luke16: 15) and he knows our motive behind the use of money; so that if one spends money on houses, lands, cars, entertainment, above that which they invest in the eternal it shows where their heart is and they cannot hide. God sees and discerns the question “why do you need those things?” We dare not justify ourselves as the pharisees did. Take care, all of us, for the word speaks of the deceitfulness of riches.

Here is a final note to chew on when we consider how we are to steward our unrighteous wealth. In Luke 16:19-31 we see perhaps one of the more disturbing stories in scripture. The rich man and Lazarus. We are all very familiar with this story, but before we skip over it as we often do the common stories that perhaps make us uncomfortable let me clarify a couple of things about our usual approach to this story. One, we usually say “I am not rich, like that.” If you live above what you need to have; your house bigger than you need, your car is nicer than you need, your clothes are nicer than you need… than you are rich. Okay, so maybe we admit that we are rich and so that is not a hang up, well let me drive it close to our hearts, where I have gone in the past with these verses. When we read this passage we are quick to say “If there was such a man outside my house of course I would help him! I wouldn’t leave him there all those years, that would just be wickedness!” Here is where it gets gritty for us here in the west. Please here this! Don’s shut me out, read on! In the context of the day we live in, this age of rapid globalization, we are surrounded by hurting, hungry people on our doorstep, don’t be msitaken. Jesus made it clear who our neighbor is. Turn on CNN or any other major news channel, hear of the calamity in Haiti, the children starving in Africa, the poor, the widows, the orphans! Oh! We say “Selling my house and living in smaller one isn’t going to make that big of a difference. We can’t help everyone. God has given me my family as my responsibility. Even Jesus said ‘the poor you will always have with you!”

Shame on you! Shame on us! Shame on the church! Shame on all the western Christians blinded by the deceitfulness of riches who will one day wake up in the midst of a flame because they didn’t catch the gravity behind the truth “You cannot serve God and money.” If you can make a difference for one or a hundred you have done it for Christ and I guarantee you God will take care of your family. Seek first His kingdom.

People get upset when I talk about this subject. I am accused of being judgmental, harsh. Many I am sure think that it is my attempt as a person working as a church-planter to guilt trip people into giving me money for my work. Where here is to those that may think that this is simply a fundraising appendix of mine; I don’t need your money. God has always, always been faithful to provide, even when things get really tough. He has always done what he promised to do and it only grieves me that I have not trusted him and given more.

I could go on and on, but let me just say this; if we can turn on CNN and hear of the misery to those on our doorstep and we do not weep, groan, and are driven to forsake our stuff in order to be the hands an feet of Christ to as many as we can… well, read Luke 16. There was a man who did just that, see how it worked out for him. Praise God, we have one who has come back from the dead who empowers us to live our lives for him if we are his. We have the words that this rich man longed for his brothers to hear.

The Joy of Sovereign Grace

Over the past few weeks there has been a growing joy that has shaped in my life, hanging over me. I find myself smiling and trusting God more, weeping as I read his Word as I consider this miracle of sovereign grace. I think of my ways of thinking in the past and the defeat I had over sin back then, despite very sincere attempts to overcome. Now walking in victory and growing in the Lord I consider His grace and mercy to me. Here are some thoughts that I had at the airport in Amsterdam last week as I was waiting in line to board. I jotted them down quickly.

How dangerous it is to trust in anything but sovereign grace, for being by nature utterly depraved I am incapable of defeating sin on the basis of free will. If I truly believe in inherited depravity then I must believe that my will, left to itself, will always choose destruction and rebellion against God. In fact on the basis of my own free will even the good which I would seem to do would be tainted with the stench of my inherited depravity. Reliance on free will not only fails to exalt Christ to his rightful place as the “author and finisher of our faith but it leads down a path that could result in hearing “I never knew you, depart from me you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23) I always assumed that this was talking about people who preached or confessed some form of the gospel, but they must have lived in some hidden sin or something like this, but could it be that these well-meaning folk, denying the work of God’s sovereign grace, were followed to the judgement with a trail of good deeds tainted by depravity instead of shining with the imputed righteousness of Christ? That “having a form of godliness” they denied it’s power? That they were found at the feast, but were thrust out because their garments were of their standard and not suitable for the presence of a just, holy God? Sobering thoughts on one hand, but wait!!!!

Behold! The thought of divine grace to me! An undeserving wretch! What joy! What victory! An offender of the Almighty, enemy of God, chosen in my depravity, made righteous by the Judge and empowered for good works sweetened with the purity and goodness of Christ!

What Joy!!!!

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