I don’t have an answer for these questions which will be able to be applied to every person out there, but I think they are questions that every person should authentically ask.
Here are some things I have heard from people while I’ve been on this earth:
You need to take care of your family.”
“Start saving early so that you have enough when you want to retire.”
“Go to college and get a good job.”
“You need to be able to support yourself.”
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Start a 401k.”
“Save up 3 months wages in an emergency fund.“
“Prepare for the future.”
What does Jesus teach?
Let’s try really hard not to interpret these verses by what the DON’T mean.
What DO they mean?
How DO we apply these crazy things?
How do we read his words without twisting them because of our worldly perspectives?
Lets try to hear these things without pre-conceived ideas of what it means.
John 6:27 “Do not work for the food which perishes.”
Matthew 6:24 “Cannot serve both God and money. Don’t worry about food/drink/clothing/tomorrow” Paraphrased
Luke 12:16-34 Story of the new barns & dying. “Don’t build a shore house for tomorrow and don’t worry about what you will eat/drink/wear.” Paraphrased
Mark 10:21-31 To the rich guy: “Sell everything you own.” It’s impossible to enter the Kingdom with your money and without God.
Luke 5:1-11 Jesus asks His new disciples to leave their recently acquired financial breakthrough.
1 Timothy 6:5-10 Be content with food and clothing
If these things don’t mean what He actually said, what DO they mean?
Why are we so quick to assume that this can’t be taken at face value?
What if these things were true?
- Don’t work for physical food.
- Don’t worry about what you are going to eat, drink or wear.
- Don’t worry about tomorrow.
- Don’t save up for the future.
- Sell your possessions and give it to the poor.
- Be content with food and clothing.
- Seek the Kingdom more than you seek food and clothing.
Is Jesus telling you not to have a job? Why not?
Is Jesus telling you to quit your job and leave everything you are doing now in order to follow Him? Why not?
Is Jesus telling you to sell everything you own and give it away? Why not?
Is Jesus saying that you should be okay with only having food and clothing? So, no phone, no house, no car, no furniture, no computer, no TV, no video games etc. Why not?
Don’t try answering these questions on your own. Connect with a community of trusted believers and hash this stuff out. Study the context of these verses. Study how the disciples applied Jesus’ words. Challenge each other.
Ask God a direct question in prayer:
Father, how do You want me to respond to these scriptures?
This walk isn’t designed to be walked alone.
Nate and I recently experienced the frustration of our first overdraft fee as a couple. I had my first overdraft fee when I was 17 years old and that was all I needed to realize that they are incredibly lame and that I would prefer to never experience another one.
Well, now I’ve had two.
I’ve only been in labor once. It was fairly long… and, I would dare say, unpleasant. But, before I ever started that amazing 68 hour process, I had decided that I would do my best to not let out negative words. In Proverbs 18:21 it says that “the tongue has the power of life and death.” That’s a lot of power! So, I only wanted to speak life while I was helping to bring out this new, precious life. It was CRAZY, difficult at times, but it did two obvious things for me.
One, it allowed me to focus on what was positive before I said anything, which, in turn helped those around me to focus on the positive.
Two, it pushed me into some vulnerable and heartfelt prayers. I remember thinking things like “I must be dying. This isn’t right,” and “I wish I were at the hospital so they could rip me open and get this baby out!” It was terrifying, so yeah, vulnerable and heartfelt prayers. In the end, things went beautifully and I feel a sense of pride in how well that labor went.
My main realization with this overdraft fee is that we are no longer living in overabundance, and that was life’s unsubtle sucker punch to my face. In the past, we’ve been able to have all of our bills automatically taken from our checking account because we had always had more than enough in that lovely bank. For a while now, we’ve been walking towards the day of ‘just enough’, but it finally came.
My husband and I sat quietly in the car as we drove away from the bank. These thoughts crept into my mind, and they wanted me to scream, “This isn’t what I wanted! I wanted a comfortable life. I wanted financial independence,” and, of course, the ever popular, “Nate, please get a regular people job so we don’t have to do this anymore!”
Then I shared these thoughts with God, and he reminded me of the power in my tongue and the choices that I made while in labor. “But God (insert whiny voice here) labor has an end in sight, and you get a sweet little baby when you’re done!” Ya know, because sometimes labor sounds easier than a different life trial… but, not while you’re in labor. He asked me to share my memory verse with Nate, which means I had to use the power of my tongue. So I spoke these words-
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable us to share in his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desire. In view of this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. 2 Peter 1:4,5
It changed our car’s atmosphere… in a good way… unlike a fart…. 2 Peter brought to mind the focus that Nate and I want to have. Speaking that out helped us to change the direction our thoughts were going in.
Perhaps, one day, God will lead us in a different direction… or perhaps he will provide through a different avenue. I never really know exactly what he’s up to! We have our hearts open to our heavenly Father in whichever direction he wants to lead us, but for now, this is the path we’re on. For me, the road is challenging, but I don’t want to turn back because of my fear or because I’m not comfortable.
Anyway, all of this is to encourage you (and me) to be thoughtful about the words that you choose to have come out of your mouth. God has given us great power, so let’s do our best to use it wisely.
In the last few years God has been teaching me to take His promises at face value.
If Jesus said, “Do not work for food that spoils…” (John 6:27) maybe he meant it.
If he said, “Don’t be concerned about what to eat or drink. Don’t worry about that stuff. All that jazz dominates the minds of people who don’t see the bigger picture. Your Daddy knows when you’re hungry, and He’s a good Dad! You just worry about playing your part in your Daddy’s business and He’ll worry about feeding you.” (John 12:29-31 NBV) maybe he meant it.
I love when Jesus makes promises about our Father taking care of us.
Today, I was convicted. Do I love it when Jesus makes commands? Do I take those at face value?
When Jesus says, “Sell your possessions and give to those in need…” (John 12:33) maybe he meant it.
When Jesus said, “Give to those who ask…” (Matt 5:42) maybe he meant it.
I have a tendency to explain away commands like I used to explain away the promises. “That homeless dude isn’t really in need… He probably makes $100 an hour doing that… I don’t know how he is going to spend it.” But, am I really a follower of Jesus if I’m not actually following His teachings? (Not questioning my salvation here, FYI) He said, “Give” and I interpret it to mean, “Give after you have fully investigated how your money is going to be used and have thus verified that it will be used in a God-honoring way.”
When I look at the context of that verse in Matthew 5, it doesn’t seem like Jesus’ primary concern is how the recipient of your “giving” is going to steward your money. Read it.
What if my responsibility is not for the outcome, but the obedience? How does that play in to the fact that we have so many “charities” that are hurting people more than actually helping them by giving unwisely? I don’t know.
What if the promises and commands go hand-in-hand?
What if I can actually take the promises of scripture at face value as I act on the commands of scripture at face value?
I have this feeling that we explain things away too often. Maybe we’re too smart for our own good.
Do you mean that we should all quit our jobs and do full-time missions work?! Who would support us if none of us have jobs?!
Maybe we should… and my Father is loaded.
Do you mean that I should always give money to every homeless person I see? What if they’re using it on drugs and it’s just going to help destroy their lives?!
Maybe we should… and Jesus knew what he was talking about.
More important than those questions is this question:
Is everything in my life on the negotiation table or am I not willing to “go there” when Jesus starts talking to me about that.
My primary concern is to follow Jesus. If He is actually directing my life as my CEO (aka, Lord) then its possible for me to follow Him and trust that He knows what He’s doing when He gives me directions.