Content With Food and Clothing?


Are we biblically balanced in the area of finance?

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about a biblically balanced life in the area of finances. God seems to be exposing many of the fancy “ministries” which thrive on excess, and survive by promoting the love of money. Conversely, there are millions of brothers and sisters in Christ worldwide who live way below any poverty line. Sure, we in the West may say, “these third world countries are heavily paganised and given to idols”… as if every Western country, even “Christian countries”, aren’t largely given to our own forms of idolatry and paganism. It is clear that a biblically balanced form of prosperity exists for those who are dead to self and alive in Christ. But why does the Lord prosper us and how much is enough for us before we should be sharing the wealth around? Did God not say that “it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant” (Deut 8:18)? So then, if the main reason that God wishes to prosper us with wealth is so that He can “establish His covenant” how can we justify lascivious living and selfish hording? Here are some sobering words penned by Paul the apostle which I would like to hear your thoughts on:

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself.  But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses. (1 Tim 6:3-12)

Let me know your thoughts and views on this passage and any other relevant scriptures and considerations regarding a balanced financial lifestyle for the saints.

Grace and peace,

Bretto

 

13 Responses to “Content With Food and Clothing?”

  1. Gmonkey Says:

    Amen. Firstly i am greatly blessed to see an open discussion! it is the way we should tackle all issues - with the Word, prayer and discussion with brothers. I think the term “love of money” is the key here - as it greatly differs from being blessed with great amounts of money (self and selfless). I will go and read and pray about this before making comment though….

  2. Scott Says:

    There will always be a minority of people willing to give until it hurts. But I think Jesus looks for those who are willing to live by faith.

    It takes courage to go against the flow of thought. A life of faith is more rewarding then a portfolio full of stocks. I remember people telling me how those in third world countries are happier then Americans. Fulfillment does not come from money but by living out the purpose of God.

    When we are concerned about the moves of the stock market it is hard to concentrate on prayer.

    When the cost of a larger house fills our time and there is none left for the fate of the lost our poverty is similar to those in Laodicea Rev. 3:14-22.

    But I disagree with a balanced life. A life of faith is not balanced, it is radical. The world looks at spiritual Christians as foolish. 1Cor. 3:18 Paul gave up all to follow Christ. Philippians 3:8f Jesus asks us to lose our life so that we can find it in Him Luke 9:23,24

  3. stirling Says:

    Scott… I think a life of faith is definitely rewarding. But I don’t think it’s more rewarding. Maybe just different outworkings that result similar fulfillment?

    I know people who work the money realm and find great fulfillment. Not because they are filling the barn for the sake of showing everybody their “fruit”. But they are using their barn as a temporary storehouse for greater business. In the front door, out the back.

    They use courage, faith and smarts to make huge decisions that will impact God’s work.

    They may not be praying all day in the traditional sense… but they are making way so somebody like yourself can. Their life becomes a prayer through their actions and willingness to honor God with a traditionally evil thing ( when used wrong ). Therein lies how a wealthy man lives by Faith…. Faith in God that he would not be consumed by the darkness that can be easily found in monetary wealth.

    So ultimately you and the stock-market man have the same vision. To live by faith and to see God glorified in your life and the people you come in contact with.

    I guess that’s why we are called the body. Different functions for a complete result.

    My take on giving is it should never be calculated. Need = Meet it if you can. But I have been known to be wrong : )

  4. Brett Jacobsen Says:

    Response to Scott,

    Are you suggesting that God is into imbalance?

    You can be radical and balanced; being balanced merely means that you don’t lean too far in either direction. I’m not talking carnal compromise, just a lack of the extreme of hedonism, or the extreme of poverty.

    Scott, do you live under a piece of iron leaning up against a wall, eating half a bowl of rice a day? I have met many people who do. Are you that radical as to go and live with them? Or do you eat McDonalds from time to time and live in a clean spacious (even if it’s tiny) house with disease free water? There are many scriptures which speak of God blessing us with natural needs, and there are many which talk about being crucified to this world as well. God is paradoxical, He doesn’t go off radically into one sided extremes, He lives in the balance of many a paradox. Even if you or I in the West own nothing, we are probably still balanced because we don’t choose the extreme of Third-world type poverty… do we.

    peace,

    Bretto

  5. Brad Wood Says:

    Everyone has an opinion on what others should do with their money. The truth is, its not theirs, as everything is the Lords!

    The Lord has shown me that when i have the time to wonder whether or not someone is being faithful with his money, then the test is mine and not theirs. To mind my own business and trust him.

    The question is, do i provide for my family through work, or is the Lord our provider? The Lord has shown me to work hard for him, regardless of the incentive. Do i work hard for a bonus, or work hard for a chance to be obediant?

    The Abounding and Abasement are 2 different seasons, and both are just as an important test as each other. When abounding, the test is whether or not we become self reliant, and not God reliant. When Abasing, the test is not as above as in these times we have only God to trust in, but the test is whether or not we covet or judge those in the Abounding season.

    Each can be as equally distracting and difficult as the other, but I work for the Lord, and thankfully have passed throught the immature stage of Judging others by outward appearences and giving my opinion when it clearly goes against what God is outworking in that individuals life in their current season.

    Balance is an important key. Balanced in all aspects of life, Word, Prayer, Worship, Finance, Hard Work and especially Being a Man of God in the Home to our Loved ones.

    So whether Abounding or Abasing, be alert of the current test and don’t be distracted from the prize. God is looking for people that are unaffected by either or should i say not DISTRACTED.

    The reason alot of Christians are so focused on finance is because they are very lazy and use the scriptures to support their laziness, and judge others that may be doing Gods will and giving without those ever knowing but God.

    Its time to see more saints setting an example in the everyday tasks of work and be set free to worship God in and through hard labour. I see my hard work as a form of fasting and devotion to the Lord, although i may be reaping some aboundment, who can say what i do with it.

    Its not mine, however my father owns everything and i’m his son so i have no need of anything other than his presence, and if its his will for me to Lay Bricks all day everyday, then so be it, as i know his will is the only thing that satisfies me.

    Balance for me is knowing that i serve an awesome God and that if he desires something to happen, it will, without me asking for a hand out!

  6. Scott Says:

    First I want to say I have a wife, kids, house, job, car, and investments.

    I think there are 3 ways to handle money and live by faith.
    1. Prosparity
    2. Stewardship
    3. Life of poverty

    What is Christian faith?Heb. 11:1 It is following the direction of the Holy Spirit. Faith comes by hearing God’s word Rom 10:17 in our hearts and obeying it looking for God to fulfill His promise to us. To not live by faith is to not please God Hebrews 11:6. If we are not looking for God to fulfill His promise than we are not living with expectation. Zeph 1:12 explains God is not pleased with those who are not looking for God.

    The problem with the 3 approaches to handling money are they become systems instead of obedience to the direction of God. Then they become legal obedience or self indulgence and do not have the vibrant life the Holy Spirit.

    One could be a CEO of a large corperation and use his money and influence for the kingdom of God. I agree with that if God is leading in that direction. A person could use his talents for God. Matt. 25:16 Another person could be a steward of what God has given him. But if a steward only gave 10% to God and spent the 90% on himself, is he really a steward or is he playing mental games? A person taking a vow of poverty, could be walking away from the talents God has given him and is living in disobedience.

    Financial obedience is not a system or an equation but is a response to the voice of our Shepherd. John 15:23

    Jesus said to the rich young ruler, give all the money to the poor and follow Jesus. Many say they don’t need to follow that command because they don’t have a problem with money like the rich young ruler. That may be true and it may not. But they should test themselves to see where their heart is Prov. 4:23. Do they spend time in prayer and fasting for the lost? Do they cry over the sin of our nation? How much of their vacation time is spent seeking God vs. going on trips? What is the TV time vs. the Bible reading and prayer ratio?

    Can we change our heart by giving away time and money? I think we can. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.

    Faith vs balance. My problem with balance is I don’t need God. It is just an equation. The impossibility of living by faith causes one to spend time in prayer for an answer.

    Do I live a life of faith or a balanced life? Every day I want to walk close to God and follow His leading. BUT I must confess I have gone by equation and not by faith much of the time. Faith could be balanced but I think because of the zeal that goes with faith it usually is lived, full bore looking to Jesus. Heb 12:2

    I have enjoyed this. God bless and lead you.

  7. Scott Says:

    My reference should have been John 10:23

    Financial obedience is not a system or an equation but is a response to the voice of our Shepherd. John 15:23

  8. Brett Jacobsen Says:

    Hey Scott,

    I agree with much of what you say, however, I see you’ve now moved to faith v’s balance. We should have balanced faith- balanced by Love and His leading. People can use faith in an unbalanced, un-Spirit-led manner.

    I think that people’s contributing thoughts have been good, however, I think we’re still dancing around the scripture which I posted as the point of dialogue…

  9. Steven Says:

    Interesting conversation above.
    I agree with Brad that it’s a fulfilling thing to live a crucified life in the area of work and be submited to the LORD in that area even though where lazy.
    I also agree with Scott that living by faith and being somewhat abbandoned to God is the way to roll as i’ve found myself in this place many times.
    And regarding Sterlings comment along the lines of being called of the LORD to be amongst the $$$’s and not be taken by it I also agree with as it’s good to be a Godly example to crew that are taken by it and whom worship money. However I do’nt see many crew living that one only talking it.
    Guess we’ve all just got to function in whatever way the LORD calls us to in the season at hand. OBEDIENCE always for sure.

    Hey I read a quote of a site thought it may be a relevant example and may spark some thought on the above article scripture!!!

    Some time ago I critiqued two sermons by Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Hagee. As I sent for one of Hagee’s cassette tapes so as to quote him correctly, I got put on his mailing list. In August of 1999 I got a magazine in which he announced a proposed celebration. It appears that he needed seven or eight million dollars in new video equipment and facilities of which he still owed 3.5 million on this debt. Anyway, to commemorate this huge debt and a proposal to get someone else to pay it off for him, he announced “Millennium Miracle 2000 by 2000″! “What in the world is that?” you ask. Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you.

    To commemorate this huge debt and Mr. Hagee’s plan to get other people to pay it off for him, he came up with a plan to mint a one ounce sterling silver coin which would then have printed on one side: “Millennium Miracle 2000 by 2000,” and on the other side: Your Name!

    The plan was for 2000 people to send John Hagee $2000 dollars each for the next few months so that by the year 2000 Mr. Hagee would be DEBT FREE! Why it’s a “Millennium Miracle”! (Wait a minute, isn’t 2000 people times $2000 each $4,000,000, not $3.5 million dollars? Oh well, a $500,000 error in John’s favor should come in handy for something).

    Each contributor of $2000 would then get a coin commemorating his contribution: “What a precious heirloom that can be passed from one generation to the next honoring your commitment to the Lord”

    Thoughts????

  10. Brett Jacobsen Says:

    Hey Stevo,

    How crook is that! I’ve seen many a foul trick played by stage strutting seducers of the brethren.

    Bretto

  11. Myles.W Says:

    My thoughts are that sucks! As for the above debate, i think we all may have drifted off the original question. I think the key out of that passage of scripture is ‘having food and rainment let us be therewith content’(at least i think thats how it goes). Although there are God appointed seasons of abounding and abasement, it is enough that we have food in our stomach and a shirt on our backs(is the shirt allowed to have a brand name?). It seems to me that the scripture heeds the warning for things beyond food and clothing.

    We work hard and we get payed and then we work harder for more pay and believe God has propered us. Working hard is godly, working too hard is not because it promotes a life of excess(among other things).

  12. james Says:

    My thoughts are, if the “the love of money is the root of all evil”, then would the hatred of money be the fruit of all goodness? I can’t see in this passage any argument against earning money, but I see a beautiful incentive not to keep it.

  13. Dave Says:

    Abraham and Job among others were very rich men in their time. Yet their focus was continually on Jesus. The believers in the underground house churches in China and other closed countries of today are, for the most part not only poor, even by their own country’s standard, but also persecuted: harassed, beaten, and jailed….even martyed. Both categories of believers are content to have food and raiment as they make godliness their main goal.

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