You got the cash. What do you do now? Opposite to what many people today do – invest. The principle of wasteful ownership is simply not present in the Bible, yet it’s not hard to find signs of it in our lives today. I suppose it has to do with the influence of the world around and the wrong belief that Christians should not get rich. I’m going to take you on a walk on the edge for a bit, so bear with me.
God blesses us with various things in life and with not a single one of them does he expect us to selfishly go on and selfishly keep to ourselves. Or in other words – own wastefully. There are plenty of examples of this from the Word, one of the clearest of which is found in Matthew 25:14-30. It’s a story about money but I see it also as a story of trust. The master entrusted his servants with his wealth. Two of them picked up on that and went ahead to multiply it. The third one played it safe.
Today, you and I are entrusted with more wealth than we could count. But what do we do with it? Yes, many complain that they’re poor and can’t do much to help it… But read the previous part of the series for more on resolving this. Am I doing enough today to multiply the wealth I have been given? Am I going to dig out the one buck from the back yard or will I have a whole bag to carry back to my master? In other words – do you invest your blessings or you simply enjoy them?
Let’s talk a bit about wealth. The wealth which is given to us by God. It is mostly non-material, but I’d argue that there is quite a bit of “stuff” that God gives us gladly – and we receive in a similar fashion. It’s so often that we pray for God to give us this or that… and He does. But the first question to ask ourselves is: How long does it usually last us? That excitement, that recognition, that fulfillment.
So, let me ask you another one: When was the last time you looked at yourself, your life and the life around you and you said “I’m rich!“?
I honestly don’t meet too many people who share about such experiences with me. Up until recently I myself had issues recognizing everything which has been given to me. Then in a series of unfortunate events I actually was awaken and realized that, if I claim that I’m blessed by God, I ought to also consider myself as such. Put next to that the fact that when God gives, HE GIVES. It’s not like He’s joking around – He always gives exactly what is needed. This is how I came to the thought that recognizing God’s blessings should define my status as rich.
Today, with the immense growth of consumerism, gadget possession and whatever else there is that money can buy and which (we believe) defines us, it’s increasingly more difficult to count oneself as rich. There’s always going to be someone above us. Someone who went on the next i-Thing cue first, someone who managed to go up in the pre-order list… Someone who’s making a six-digit salary in EUR per year. I find it very interesting that so many people tend to compare ourselves with those who are better, have more, etc. Why is it that for once we can’t compare with the poorer, the needy, the hungry? I think I know part of the answer, and it fits in one word only: responsibility.
If it weren’t for Hebrews 11:1, perhaps the case of blind Bartimaeus would be most fitting. How much further could it get than a blind man’s hope for being able to see.
The Bible says that Bartimaeus was doing the regular daily “exercise” – sitting at the city gates and relying on the pilgrims’ mercy for his dinner. There must have been a decent amount of dust on his clothes… over his body… And the heat certainly couldn’t have made his situation any better. But what else could he do? He’s an outcast after all – a cast out one.
But Bartimaeus isn’t just any outcast. Not just any blind guy. He isn’t just any beggar either. Bartimaeus is a believer, but not just any – a true one he is. The Bible says he heard Jesus approaching and began to shout – perhaps a usual picture given the popularity of the Lord. He was an emerging star for many of his time. The picture becomes unusual when a minute goes by and blind Bartimaeus is still shouting. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some from the crowd tried to shut him, but apparently whatever he had lost with his sight had now turned into a voice amplifier.
When God was finished with creation he looked at it and it was very good. One should note that “very good” in God’s eyes is indeed – very good. So it went on for a while like this, until one day God gave another look to creation, but this time the picture was different. This time the Lord did not rejoice, but instead “he was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6, NIV). He decided to wipe away what he had made, but Noah found favor in His eyes. So he spared him. This went on for a while until one other day the Lord said to Noah and his sons “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11, NIV).
I cannot help but wonder what went through God’s “mind” between the time of completing creation and the events of Genesis 6. Even more – what changed from Genesis 6 to Genesis 9? There’s little we can know about it, besides that God set off on a mission – a mission that’s one of a kind.
See, when, let’s say your TV breaks down and you want to continue watching TV – you have two options. Either repair it or get a new one, the latter being the more convenient, easier one. While the flood was God’s way of starting all over again – more convenient and certainly quicker, his covenant with Noah and later on with many others is rather astonishing. He basically said “I won’t get rid of you, but will do whatever it takes to fix you up – make you look good again; as good as you were when I first looked at you.” This might also seem easy until you grasp the scale of the repair that needed to be done. Consequentially, that decision didn’t come at no expense for God. The toll was the death and resurrection of His Son – a rather high price, but as I said – a lot needed fixing.
Some call it fellowship, others simply a relationship and I’ve chosen the name partnering in life. Neither one, however, can fully reflect the meaning of the Greek κοινωνία (koinonia) better than the passage from Acts 2:42-47.
Today we tend to take relationships for granted. The Internet offers them at practically no cost, and so does the local school, sports club… oh, yes – even the church. So far – nothing wrong. Sadly enough, the fragrance of the koinonia seems to have faded away. Instead of being like a fresh Spring bloom, it’s more like a frozen vegetable which has then been microwaved – you wouldn’t know it smells like something if it weren’t for the big fat colored label on the package that tricks your mind into believing it does. We’re either really dumb fools or really lazy and indifferent to our own lives.
We like having partners in life as long as they don’t require much of us. As long as they don’t disturb out comfortable and well planned and organized living. It seems to me that the fancier mobile phones one can buy, the less we care about sincerely maintaining our relationships. Perhaps this would be quite a shock to Johann Philipp Reis (whom I credit as the inventor of the telephone). Nevertheless, my point is – the things that ought to draw us closer to each other seem to actually scatter us apart.