Praise Pure Ministry

Compassionate Use of Wealth and Possession
Using Our Money For God’s Glory

Lola Richey Smashwords Edition

Compassionate Use of Wealth and Possession
By Lola Richey Published by Lola Richey at Smashwords Copyright December 12, 2012 by Lola Richey ISBN: 9781301135394

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Most people in the world crave financial security and wealth. Yet, Jesus Christ was born poor and lived poor. His remark at Matthew 8:20 may even suggest that He was homeless. He was born into the world among “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46). Moreover, His earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, were not wealthy. When arriving to Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary had no place to stay. Amazingly, Jesus became poor to bring God’s salvation and peace unto all people, worldwide (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus encouraged people to trust in God and never their wealth and possessions for security (Matthew 6:19–34). With Jesus Christ’s teaching in mind, how should people manage their wealth and possessions as they care for their families, their retirement futures and other community needs? Let us consider a hypothetical couple called Peter and Karen Anderson as they weigh Jesus Christ’s teaching, their family responsibilities and using their wealth for God’s glory. Peter and Karen Anderson are both mid-level insurance managers for a regional transportation company. They are college educated and enjoy an upper-class lifestyle. Peter and Karen also have three school-age children: Roger, Elliot, and Sarah. Both Roger and Elliot will soon require orthodontic work. The children are all active in school, as well as after-school soccer programs. The family lives in an upper-class neighborhood and occasionally attends church. One Sunday at church, the missionary pastor preached about the importance of supporting the local homeless shelter downtown that houses several hundred men, women, and children. The missionary pastor encouraged the congregation to increase their giving—to continue to support the church
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and also support the missionary program at the homeless shelter. Peter and Karen enjoyed the sermon and the missionary pastor’s message. However, with three school-aged children, a mortgage, car, boat payments, and their desire to take a family cruise, they asked the missionary pastor for a meeting in their home to discuss their options regarding the project. Professor John Frame provides the missionary pastor and the Andersons a framework with which to analyze the ethical implications of wealth, giving, and family responsibility. This framework provides a formulation that uses an ethics triangle to represent key ethical issues, such as checks and balances on one another, and the “means for us to discover that absolute right and wrong.”1 According to Professor Frame, “the content of ethics is a triangle,” characterized by the situational perspective (or our environment), the normative perspective (our beliefs) and the existential perspective (our personal experience).2 From a Christian perspective, these three factors function in harmony with one another as a reasonable means to resolve any ethical issues facing an individual or group. Each perspective is not sharply distinct from one another. Rather, each perspective includes the other two and therefore draws on the other two for its content and methodology. There are some key questions the missionary pastor and the Andersons may want to consider when discussing the Andersons’ contributions to the missionary project. First of all, the pastor and the Andersons need to consider
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John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing,

2008), 36.
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Ibid., 34.

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and weigh the situation. Initially, the pastor needs to help the Andersons establish the importance of a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Next, the pastor may want to address “who is my neighbor?” in terms of Jesus’ teaching of the Good Samaritan, as well as the issue of proximity (see Luke 10:25-37). Next, the pastor and the Andersons may wish to discuss how much giving is “enough” and whether the Andersons can limit the children’s activities. Third, the pastor and the Andersons could weigh the missionary project’s significance to the Andersons and whether there are other charitable programs available that can help more people. Regarding the second portion of Frame’s ethical triangle, the pastor needs to discuss the normative and God’s Word on wealth, giving, and family responsibility. The Holy Scriptures speak frequently on the topic of wealth and the responsible use of our resources to support our families and others in need (for example, see Matthew 6:24; Mark 10:17–31; Luke 12:13–21; 1 Timothy 5:8; and, 1 Timothy 6:6–19). Wealth and possession are seductive (1 Timothy 6:10) and can force a person to abuse others (Malachi 3:5) and rob God (Malachi 3:8– 9). The Holy Scriptures teach people some important lessons in regards to money: (1) we are not to set your heart on riches (Psalm 62:10; James 5:1–6); (2) we are to be content with God’s blessings and not covet the possessions of others (Exodus 20:17; Hebrews 13:5); and wealth is a gift from God and should be used with thanksgiving, generosity, and stewardship (1 Timothy 6:17–18; 2 Corinthians 8–9). Professor Frame maintains that [T]he eighth commandment mandates responsible use of the funds God has entrusted to us. We have seen that we have
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responsibilities to our families (1 Timothy 5:8), to the church (2 Corinthians 8-9), and to the state (Matthew 22:17-22), and to ourselves (2 Thessalonians 3:10). These responsibilities, in turn, require a seriousness about the use of money. . . . Scripture does not condemn the expenditure of money for relaxation, for entertainment, or even for the consumption of luxuries. But these must be balanced by a concern for others and for one’s own future well-being.3 The Holy Scriptures place great emphasis on generosity and kindness to those in need (Proverbs 28:27; Proverbs 29:7, 14) and helping to assist the poor and oppressed, especially orphans, widows, aliens, the helpless, and the handicapped (for example, see Exodus 19:9-10; Exodus 22:22; Exodus 23:22; Exodus 25:1-55; Isaiah 1:15-20; Amos 2:6; Amos 4;1; Amos 8:4; Micah 6:6-8). In the Israelites’ society, individual and family responsibility for the poor was crucial since there was no government aid. God expected family members to care for one another. One of the greatest possessions God gives us is our family. Families provide us love, acceptance, encouragement, direction, and counsel. In fact, poor Israelites first looked to their families for help and only secondly to the community. Community members were commanded not to exploit and victimize the poor; rather, they were commanded to help and house those in need (see Leviticus 25:25-35). Nevertheless, the Holy Scriptures acknowledge that people may hesitate to give generously and share with others since they may worry about having enough money left over to meet their own needs. God encourages everyone to save for the future (Proverbs 21:20). A wise person saves for the future, and
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Frame, 806.

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God blesses those with prudence and discipline. Nonetheless, God never intended people to trust in their accumulated wealth for security and comfort (Jeremiah 17:7), but to share with those in need (Proverbs 21:26). God promises to meet our needs as we help others in need (2 Corinthians 9:6-15). Nevertheless, God never intended that people give beyond their ability. Our giving must be responsible. The Apostle Paul instructed people to give generously, but not to the extent that those who most depend on the givers (for example, their families or local church) must go without having their basic needs met. God wants everyone to share with others, but not at the expense of hurting one’s family and/or relatives who need their financial support (2 Corinthians 8:12). Everybody has a responsibility to provide for themselves and their families (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Mark 7:9–13; 1 Timothy 5:4, 8). A failure to provide for one’s family is equal to denial of the faith (see Exodus 20:12; Mark 7:9-12; Ephesians 6:2). God wants families to be as self-supporting as possible. Even more, God instructed families to take care of their widows (1 Timothy 5:4). The Holy Scriptures teach the importance of hard work and diligence (2 Thessalonians 3:10). In fact, the Apostle Paul instructed the Church to stop financially supporting, and associating with, people who are lazy, non-productive, and reluctant to work so that the church could help those in genuine need (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; see also (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:11; James 5:19-20; 1 John 5:16-17). Laziness causes people to become a burden on their families and their church.

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God wants everyone to share their resources to help others in need (Acts 2:44-47; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4). When people are responsible and generous, the community’s needs are met (1 Timothy 5:3-5). In the ancient world, there were no pensions, social security, life insurance, and other government assistance programs. The responsibility for caring for the poor fell on God and one’s family. God often provide miraculously for His people ((Exodus 16:14-31), but He also expects His people to use their God-given talents and resources to provide for themselves, their families and others in need. Today, care for the poor (who lack either savings or adequate family support) is often left to the government. However, family support helps the church, non-profit organizations, and governmental programs from being unnecessarily burdened financially. The responsibility for supporting one’s family lies first within the family and second with the church. Christians must work to provide for their families. So what does this mean for the Andersons, who they work at relatively stable, well-paid jobs, own their home, and have managed to save at least some money for retirement? The Andersons may feel overwhelmed and helpless in regards to the problems of poverty. God does not expect the Andersons to eliminate poverty, nor does He expect them to neglect their family while providing for others. However, God does expect the Andersons to help when they see a person in need by reaching out their hands and offering help with whatever they can offer. This includes hospitality (see Luke 10:25-37 and Jesus’ teaching of the Good Samaritan). As Ronald Reagan once said, “We can’t
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help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Besides, God never looks at the amount of our giving, only our willing hearts and attitudes (Mark 12:41-44; 2 Corinthians 8:3; 2 Corinthians 9:7). “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose,” asserts Jim Elliott. We are not owners of our possessions and other resources. We are only God’s stewards. Only God gives us the power to gain wealth and riches (1 Timothy 6:17-19; see also Deuteronomy 8:18). Therefore, everyone must honor God and center his or her desires on pleasing and glorifying Him and loving others (Matthew 6:33; Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Despite our culture’s belief that money brings happiness, God wants everyone to realize that we must love God and love people more than we love money and our possessions (see John 13:34-35; 1 Timothy 6:11). Therefore, we must freely share our possessions with others in need (1 Timothy 6:17-19; see also Luke 12:16-34; 2 Corinthians 8–9; James 5:3). God promises to provide for our needs and award generosity (Psalm 112:9). Moreover, greed, stinginess, and hoarding ultimately lead to sin, evil and sadness (1 Timothy 6:10). Real happiness only comes from our love, trust, and hope in God (Jeremiah 17:513). Wealth and possessions can never completely satisfy us and make us happy (see also Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19). Our generous and cheerful giving glorifies God’s Kingdom and reflects our devotion to Him. As God, He is the creator and owner of everything in heaven and on earth (Psalm 24:1; Haggai 2:8). We must depend on God for all of our daily needs (Exodus 16:1-30; Numbers 11:4-9), as He gives everyone the
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“power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18). We must work hard and manage God’s wealth to help our families, others in need, and God’s glory (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). God intends our lives to be enjoyed with love, laughter, and peace, as we all seek to glorify God, love our neighbors, and enjoy Him forever (John 13:34-35; Philippians 4:4; James 1:2; see also Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1). As Walter C. Kaiser notes, Possession, wealth, and goods also bring with them responsibilities. . . . We must use all that we are giving in a manner fitting of our roles as God’s stewards, for what we have is to be shared with our Lord and others; it is all on loan from the Lord—to be used for His glory.4 Our money and possessions are not sinful if earned honestly (Proverbs 10:15, 22; Proverbs 14:24; Proverbs 21:6; Proverbs 22:16). Money in itself is not evil, but loving money leads to all sorts of sin (1 Timothy 6:10). The Holy Scriptures cautions people against placing anyone or anything before God and His Kingdom for their security (including intangible possessions such as family, intelligence, or talents). Only God can adequately provide for all of our daily needs and cares (Matthew 6:25-26; see also 2 Chronicles 26:5; Job 36:11; Proverbs 28:25; Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:9-10). As we seek God for our daily needs, we can go about His Kingdom relieved of care and worry (Matthew 6:2534). The irony is that our culture teaches people that they must put “me” or “self” first and hold on to as much as possible. God wants people to use their

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., What Does the Lord Require?: A Guide for Preaching and Teaching Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 200.

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wealth to help others and glorify His Holy Kingdom here on earth (1 Timothy 6:3-19; see also Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Giving acknowledges that God owns everything (Deuteronomy 8:10–18). Our first desire must be to love God, love people, and seek to bring glory to God (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 10:31). We should not hold onto selfish desires that only please ourselves. God wants everyone to place the needs of others ahead of their own, as Jesus Christ did (1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9). In fact, the Holy Scriptures teach us that we can actually prosper by being generous to those in need, especially widows and orphans (James 1:27), while those who hoard their possessions, resources, and money will be poor (see Proverbs 11:24-28; Proverbs 28:27; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9). Stinginess, greed, and selfishness often lead to physical and spiritual poverty (Proverbs 21:13), while God blesses those who give their possessions, time, and talents to others freely and generously. When we give to others in need, God gives us more and more resources so that we can be a blessing to others (see Psalm 1; Psalm 112:2-9; Proverbs 11:24-25; Proverbs 22:9). God blesses those who share with the poor (Proverbs 22:9; Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6). The family and the family relationship are important in God's eyes. Everyone has an obligation to care for their families. God looks with disapproval on those who neglect their families and their responsibilities (1 Timothy 5:8). At the same time, God does not want parents to raise spoiled children and regularly give into their children’s demands in order to stop their
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pleading or crying. Such parental behavior creates children who demand instant gratification and pleasure without the virtue of patience (Proverbs 20:21; see also Galatians 5:22-25). We cannot live self-absorbed and selfish lives and expect to find happiness. It is only by caring for the needs of others (particularly the poor) above our own, that we find the peace, joy, and riches we are so longing. The world can no longer look to the government to solve all of our problems, especially that of poverty. The church cannot remain silent about the Holy Scriptures’ emphasis on the compassionate use of wealth and resources. Every society has social structures that separate the weak from the strong. This was true of Old Testament Israel, and it is true of today. The Holy Scriptures appeal for the proper treatment of the poor and disadvantaged, and they speak of God’s disapproval when they are neglected (Matthew 23:23; 2 Corinthians 9:6-10; James 2:1-7). In reality, there will always be poor people, because we all live in a fallen world. God expects and demands that we contribute to the well-being of the poor and oppressed (Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Matthew 26:6-13). As the Andersons weigh their responsibilities to themselves, to their families, and to the needy of our world, the words of John Wesley can be a useful guide, “Make a much as you can; save as much as you can; give as much as you can.”5 The Andersons can possibly re-consider their children’s

Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2001), 1263.

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many after school activities, the family cruise and other leisure options so they can contribute to the homeless shelter while also continuing to work hard and provide for their family. The government success in handling the issues of the poor and needy individuals have not been very successful. Jonah Goldberg noted in his November 19, 2012 article of the National Review Online that the poverty rate in 1975 was 26 percent and the poverty in 2012 is still 26 percent.6 As Professor Kaiser noted, The church of our Lord Jesus dare not to remain silent on the issues of the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, or the oppressed. Nor dare we to imagine that the government must now carry this responsibility, and thus we are let “off the hook.7 The tender and loving care of the poor, oppressed, orphaned, hurting and widow must be tackled by responsible and accountable members of the local church! Jesus Christ and the early church revealed the importance of caring for the needy (see e.g., Acts 2:42-47; 1 Timothy 5:3–20; 1 John 3:11-17; 2 Corinthians 9:9–10). God wants everyone to love and help one another, especially those in need (Proverbs 10:22). One of the best ways to express love is a giving spirit such as by lending a helping hand, writing a check to the needy; or giving your time generously (2 Corinthians 8:8–9; see also Mark 10:21; Luke 12:33). The model for giving is Jesus Christ, who was rich in God the Father’s presence (John 17:5, 24) yet became poor for humankind’s salvation and eternal life with God (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-11).
Jonah Goldberg, “The Corner, Re: Starve the Beast,” http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/3337/restarve-the-beast-jonah-goldberg# (accessed November 19, 2012).
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Kaiser, 28-29.

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References Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005. NIV Study Bible. Zondervan, 2008. NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. King James Version Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1988. Spirit Filled Life Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1991. Believer's Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1995. KJV Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson, 1994. Word in Life Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1996. Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989. Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Baker Academic, 2001.

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