Bling Bling Culture, Part 3
District Fellowship News
November, December 2008
ASSUMPTION #2: I earned it, so I can do what I want with it… (cont.)
Let’s continue our discussion of the bling bling culture with the parable found in Luke chapter 12. Here a man demands that Jesus tells his brother to divide the inheritance with him. Jesus first tells the man to ‘be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,’ and then follows with this parable.
“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21 NIV)
Previously, we spoke of the first half of this assumption: I earned it, but now we follow with the fallacy of the second half: so I can do whatever I want with it. It is clear from this parable that to believe we can dispose of whatever we have accumulated any way we want, or use it in anyway we want is not only opposite to what God intends but not likely to happen. The man thinks he earned the crop, and therefore that gave him the right to hoard it all for himself, to take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry. But this isn’t a Biblical principle. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” When you have the attitude that what I’ve earned is for me, you are not following the principles of heaven. Once again, we will repeat that God provides for us so that we can provide for others, that His kingdom will go forward. It’s not about acquiring, and it’s not about hoarding, it is about being a steward serving the King whether with a small amount or a large amount.
The third example we have involves the children of Israel in the book of Exodus. They had journeyed to the land of Egypt during Jacob’s last years. There had been a famine throughout the world and because of God’s provision, Joseph, Jacob’s son, had helped Egypt survive the famine. The pharaoh, Egypt’s ruler, when he learned of Joseph’s family invited them to come and live in one of the most prosperous parts of Egypt. But after some years when the pharaoh, Joseph, Jacob, and others had passed on, the new regime became threatened by the Israelites and proceeded to enslave them. For those of you familiar with this story Moses arose as a leader of his people. A confrontation with the pharaoh occurred (read Exodus chapters 1-12) and when everything was said and done the Israelites left Egypt quickly during the night but not before they were given articles of silver and gold and clothing by the Egyptians who the Lord had made favorably disposed toward them. On one hand you could say that the Israelites earned these gifts since they had worked as slaves for the Egyptians, on the other hand when you read the story and what happened to the Egyptians during the plagues that occurred you would truthfully say that there could be no possible way that the Egyptians could be favorably disposed towards the Israelites. Again this is an example where God provides for his people in spite of the circumstances.
Of course, the Israelites during their journey could have said, ‘I’d better save this for a rainy day’, or ‘I’ll need these funds for buying my new place in the promised land’. Soon Moses came to them and said, the Lord would have you give towards His place of worship. They needed gold, silver, fine materials to be used in the crafting of the tabernacle and the people gave. They refused to fall for the assumption that they had earned this treasure and so they could do anything with it, and instead followed the principle that God provides and we use that provision towards fulfilling His plan. Looking at it in a practical sense, what good would the gold have done them anyhow. Although I am sure they were not planning on wandering for forty years, looking back we can see that no matter how much they started with they weren’t going to be able to take care of themselves. There was no way to provide the food and clothing necessary for that large of a group for forty years. Anything they may have earned or hoarded would have been gone long before the time was up. Yet the miraculous story tells us that every day food appeared, and that their shoes and clothes never wore out. That’s God’s provision. No matter whether you work hard for your goods or have them handed to you, as a child of God, you are responsible to use that provision for God’s glory and purposes.
Next time: ASSUMPTION #3 Capitalism is a biblical concept