Money & our needs: Joy regardless of circumstances

Para información en Español, contacte a Alex (alex@christoscommunity.org).

Now we’re getting to the really exciting parts of this journey… this worksheet and the next are where the deep chests of treasure – the lasting joy – are found.  So they are a little longer than the previous ones.  Here’s what we’ll look at this time:

  1. money as picture of the Source of joy
  2. enjoying His gifts
  3. seemingly costly obedience
  4. our super power (from Jesus)

Source of joy: resources as a picture

Resources are not impersonal in scripture.  Rather, they are a picture of the ultimate Source of joy and the staggering love God has for us…

  • Anytime we purchase something expensive, it can be a reminder that God purchased us at unimaginable cost (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
  • Anytime we see the ‘accessories’ that come with something… headset with a mobile phone or floor mats in a car – they are a little echo of the ‘all things’ that the Father will provide for those to whom He has already given His Son (Romans 8:32)
  • Every experience or view of poverty or wealth is a small picture of the vast difference in wealth between Christ and us and how He traded places for our benefit and His glory (2 Corinthians 8:8-9)
  • Every time there is debt (especially unpaid debt), it is a tiny illustration of the debt of our sin that God forgives (Matthew 18:21-35)
  • Every trip to the grocery store is a picture of God’s provision… He who is the ultimate source for every full belly in the world (Psalm 145:16)
  • Every paycheck we receive is a reminder that it is He who even gives us the the ability to earn income (Deuteronomy 8:18)
  • etc. and etc.

Enjoying things 101

What is more, the resources and gifts themselves are pictures of God and His beauty and goodness and the all-satisfying nature of His character and works.  Just like these verses say…

1 Timothy 4:4-5

4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 6:17

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

But wait a minute… what about verses like these?…

Colossians 3:1-3

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Philippians 3:17-19

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

So should we enjoy or reject earthly possessions & pleasures?

Or, put another way… how do we enjoy God through His gifts and not make idols of them?  Or put yet another way (by Augustine)… “He loves Thee too little, who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves not for Thy sake.”

There’s a whole book written on this topic called “Things of Earth” (see the Resources section at the bottom of the page for a link to the book for free).  But the summary is this: there is a middle path between ingratitude and idolatry and it is learning to leverage the sweetness of God’s gifts as beams of light that lead our minds and hearts upward rather than stopping at the created thing.

What is a created thing you particularly enjoy?  In what ways does it point to the beauty or strength or pleasure or creativity of the One who is its ultimate Source?

 

 

 

When trust seems costly

Enjoying God’s gifts is great… until we don’t have them.  What about the single person who wants to be married?  …the terminally ill person who wants to be well?  …even just when we are craving a hamburger?

Sometimes it is even in the area of money and resources that we experience great loss, and sometimes even because we are loving Christ and loving others for His sake.  Sometimes our faith means we are treated wrongly at work (1 peter 2:18-23), or property is taken (Hebrews 10:34), or lawsuits are filed against us, or we close the business because of ungodly laws.  What then?

Needs & felt needs

First, let’s make sure we have a biblical idea of ‘needs.’  Let’s let God define them.  In Matthew 6:25-34 & Timothy 6:8, what things are listed as needs?

 

 

 

What are things that seem like needs but are not called needs by God?

 

 

Counting the cost

In yet another use of resources to illustrate spiritual truth, Christ uses the idea of considering the cost to build something as a way to caution us against pursuing Christ flippantly (Luke 14:27-28).  

 

 

We have brothers and sisters in Christ in China who plan ahead for the very possible circumstance that they are put in prison for their work in bible distribution.  We have other brothers and sisters in Christ in Iran who will role play how to respond to an interrogator who has unjustly arrested them.

 

But scripture says that persecution only seems costly at the time and will be a laughable comparison when we see the pleasure and glory God has in store (Romans 8:18).

What is something that would be hard for you to lose?

 

 

What is an example in your own life of an laughable comparison that you saw or experienced where two things were so pathetically matched, it was really no comparison at all?

 

 

How much greater must the reward of God Himself be than your potential loss?  What might it be like?

 

 

Our resulting super power (from Jesus)

And now we’re getting to the power to stand when our desires – and even legitimate needs – go unfulfilled: it’s called contentment.

1 Tim 6:6-10

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Philippians 4:12-13

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

 

We can – in dependence on the Spirit and with our eyes fixed on the ultimate reward of God – endure unmet desires and even needs.

Planning for joy: thriving in the storm

What is a difficult circumstance you are experiencing?

 

 

What is the good gift of God are you longing for?

 

 

How is that gift just a picture of the delight found in God?

 

 

What is a practical step you can take to remember this when things are hard?

 

 

For further study…

The Bible on contentment

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (get it for free here)

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/our-role-with-money-and-possessions/

The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts, Joe Rigney (get it for free here)

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/lifestyle/

Reading more about believers who live with persecution, https://www.persecution.com/

The Bible on crisis