In today’s world, everything is about having things/possessions, in order that one can “demonstrate” “success.” So often, one ignores the fact that all good things come from God who is the proprietor and creator of all of the universe. David attributes God’s dominion of the universe in Psalm 50:12: “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is thine, and the fulness thereof.” God already is aware of our every need and is the owner of all.
Matthew 4:8–10 presents the ultimate example of attempting to shift ownership from its rightful Titleholder to the Imposter. Jesus is tempted by Satan, after having fasted for forty days:
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Satan not only is tempting Jesus to recognize him as ruler of all, but tempting Him to subject His will to Satan’s wiles. It is to be learned, from Jesus’ earthly example, that all honor and glory are to be given to God, and that all things belong to Him. As a result of understanding the origin of all things on this earth, dependence must be placed upon God, not earthly sources. The heavenly resource is the only “true,” dependable, and authentic source.
In the lesson this week we are studying the following passages, which provide the Biblical foundations for understanding and comprehension of living the Christian life, with respect to debt. The means by which a Christian may be a citizen of this earthly planet, but live the heaven-bound life, concurrently, with a particular focus on how one is to handle one’s financial matters, are brought into focus through these Scripture passages.
Romans 13:7 (KJV)
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”
On a daily basis, according to Paul, as a Christian, one is to be a responsible citizen of this world. Christ’s followers are, according toJesus’s words in Mark 12:17, to“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Human beings have a tendency to justify why taxes should not be paid or whether one should fulfill other financial obligations; however, Christ’s mandate is very clear. As citizens of this world, financial obligations must be met; whether there is agreement or not. In the mindset of the twenty-first century, there is a tendency to take on debt, but somehow justify that repayment is unnecessary or optional. Also, one way or another, on the part of some, there is a tendency to yield to the temptation to shift responsibility to society, some governmental or ecclesiastical entity, or to others, rather than acceptance, on an individual basis, of commitments. Environmental mores are allowed to take precedence in the mind of certain citizens causing them to believe that it is alright to take, but it is not necessary to contribute.
Romans 13:8 (KJV)
8 Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
The only type of debt that mankind should allow is that of showing love to each other. If love is shown to one another, the divinely-mandated “debts” have been satisfied. John 13:34 puts it in perspective like this: “A new commandment I [Christ] give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Christ offered the example, and His followers are to do the same. Love is the one thing that mankind has as its debt to each other. God, through His son Jesus Christ, has shown each member of this world an immeasurable source of love. As Christ’s ambassadors, each individual is to show love to those with whom one comes in contact, in order to emulate what has been done for each one that accepts the designation of Christian. The title has its privileges and rights, as well as, its responsibilities.
Psalm 37:2 (KJV)
21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
When one is out of the will of God, that individual borrows with no intention of returning what has been borrowed; however, the upright bear in mind that honesty dictates that “It is better to give than receive.” Acts 20:35 states: “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Christ’s disciples seek out strategies through which they can give rather than receive, matching His example. Christ’s disciples seek out the means by which they can enrich the world around them, not simply be recipients of benefits from other’s labors.
Matthew 4:3-10 (KJV)
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, it is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Satan was tempting Jesus to do things His own way, under His own power, satisfying self; however, Christ’s example is to let God meet our needs. Give up self and let the divine be what guides one’s life by meeting the needs of daily life. Let go and let God, should be the motto. As each man and woman chooses to follow God, a partnership is formed and by faith one does what is within one’s capacity, and then the divine intervention takes place. The Enemy of souls is always attempting to beguile with his way of accomplishing things; however, each individual must be ever vigilant to recognize the source of what is being offered as a resolution. Sola Scriptura should be the guiding theme. David’s observation, found in Psalm 119:11, “Thyword have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” should be the way a Christian conducts their life on a daily basis.
Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Joy is defined through the acronym: Jesus first; Others second; Yourself last. God needs to be put in first place in each individual’s heart, facilitating the means through which God can do His work in each heart. As Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, when writing his epistle to Thessalonica: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father….” Mankind must choose to place its complete reliance on God. Then, as the source of all good things, one’s needs will be supplied. Debt is not necessary, except in rare instances of a car or a house. But, even when the decision is made to incur debt in these two instances, the decision must be made with much deliberation; having a repayment plan in place. One must ask oneself if the decision that is being made for the acquisition is in God’s will; is it necessary; is there a reasonable alternative to resolve the need, or is it simply a want? Does the debt being incurred respond to a must, or is it an “I would like to have?”
Deuteronomy 28:12 (KJV)
12 The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
When one “taps” into the celestial storehouse, one is drawing upon the divine source of all. Romans 8:28 elucidates this point: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Praise God for His great and wonderful promises for His children. Let each one have such an intimate line of communication with heaven, in order that there be a clear understanding as to what is God’s will, what is the means through which He is working, and is His follower in His will. When in God’s will, one will be the in the position to be the lender, not the borrower.
Proverbs 13:11 (KJV)
11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
Selfish desires and wants will not receive God’s blessings, as explained in this verse. Solomon exposes the fact that ill-gotten goods are not of God. As one ponders this scriptural passage, one must bear in mind the portion of the fourth commandment set forth in Exodus 20:9 “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work....” Then, Exodus 20:10 provides the authority through which this commandment can be mandated: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” As a follower of Christ, who is emulating Christ’s example, one must be productive for six days out of the seven, this is what Christ did as Creator of the universe; thus, we as His creations must do the same.
Proverbs 21:5 (KJV)
5 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
If one is busy and occupied with meeting goals, accomplishing worthwhile “missions,” and seeking means through which one may be productive, there is not a focus on “what I want” and “what I do not have.” If one is producing in a positive way, to society in general, and one’s surroundings specifically, there is no time, nor desire, to be covetous of what others have and I do not. If one is looking to cultivating a mindset of bringing solutions and being industrious, the daily life will present an attitude of allowing God to be the one that meets one’s needs in the most advantageous manner. First Corinthians 10:31 admonishes, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” The Christian’s daily life is always to bear the influence of God’s indwelling presence.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (KJV)
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
As a follower of Christ, one must always stay focused on the celestial point of view. One is to adopt a similar outlook as Abraham, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Our daily life should not be a constant desire to amass temporal, earthly possessions. One’s aspirations should be yearning for the eternal; created by He who wishes the very best for His children. We cannot not see, physically, the things of heaven, but we have the biblical descriptions of those things that have been revealed to the writers of the Holy Scriptures, such as what Paul describes in I Corinthians 2:9: “…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” God has wonderful and marvelous plans for each one of those who choose to follow Him.
A description of the three options open to each follower of Christ, is delineated in Mark 4:18-20.
18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
When one seeks to do God’s will, one’s perspective is not limited to knowing about the Word of God, nor to occupy one’s time with seeking riches, glory, and concerns for the things of this world; moreover, there is a desire to live out God’s Word, being authentic representatives and emulators of Christ’s perfect example.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
As you and I seek God’s way of thinking and living, Christ says that if we follow Him we will be able to understanding and clarity of thought, with respect to His will. Each one that chooses to follow Him will have their path illuminated. The decisions that are made will be in partnership with the one who knows all things, understands all things, and reveals to each one what is needed to live a victorious life. Our daily lives will reflect his will.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Christ’s disciples seek the heavenly model, not the way the world prescribes that things should be done. What each individual does on a quotidian-basis will reflect a life of daily communion with the divine. One’s decisions will reflect celestial direction, not earthly aspirations. Debt will not be a way of life, it will be a decision of absolute necessity, having consulted with heaven.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8613