Society has a deep respect for the “self-made” person who has attained great wealth without the obvious assistance of others. These people may have started out with almost nothing and built up a substantial business empire. But there is a danger in this – disregarding the Lord’s role and His blessings and placing all one’s faith in oneself. Moses warned the Israelites about this as they prepared to enter the Promised Land.
17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (ESV)
Centuries after Moses, Jesus sat in the temple in Jerusalem to observe people putting their gifts into the offering box. One person made him marvel. It was not a wealthy tax collector or a rich landowner dropping a huge amount of money into the box. It was a poor widow, giving almost the smallest amount possible. Jesus was touched by her faith because she was giving all that she had to God. He pointed her out to his disciples with joy and amazement as a remarkable example of faithful generosity.
We don’t know from the gospel what happened next for the woman, but I like to think that on her way home, she stumbled upon the makings of a sumptuous meal that had fallen off a cart as it hit a bump. Or perhaps some other, unforeseen blessing awaited her.
Jesus also told his disciples stories about rich people. In Luke 12, He told of one man who had accumulated much wealth, and had a bumper crop growing in his fields. The coming harvest would be so large that he told himself that he must tear down his current barns to build bigger ones to handle his growing prosperity. Life would be easy from now on, he told himself – he would eat, drink, and be merry. He was a self-made success without a care in the world.
Jesus went on to say that the rich man was about to die that night and would never see the crops gathered or the new barns raised up. In fact, he was actually to be pitied as a fool for being so ignorant of the things of God. It was a strong warning not to forget about God, even during times of great prosperity.
As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses warned them not to forget the Lord when things began to go well. Success is not a time to pat oneself on the back and to forget about God and the needs of others, those who have not experienced such bounty. Rather, growing wealth is an opportunity for greater generosity if the heart is truly willing.
Moses reminds us all that every opportunity we have to improve our lot in life comes from the Lord. One of the reasons it happens is because God wants us to use some of it for His kingdom purposes. We are only stewards of what the Lord has provided, be we wealthy landowners or poor widows. It is how we regard money and use it that matters in God’s eyes.
How do I acknowledge God’s role in my financial situation? When I get a financial blessing, am I tempted to think only about building bigger barns? We all face these temptations.
Father God, we acknowledge You as the source of our sustenance and blessing. Thank You for providing opportunities for us, and help us to overcome any financial insecurities that lie before us. Teach us to return a portion of our blessings to You for kingdom purposes and for the support of those going through a difficult season. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)