• johned@aibi.ph

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Eternity 73 - God-Sufficiency

(Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NIV) You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." {18} But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

The ability to make a living is from God. Our body and intellect and spirit and soul are from Him. He has been with us and blessed us and strengthened us and preserved us. Thus it is folly to say "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." , it is also folly to lie in bed and wait for God to send money in the post!

God gave us arms and legs and brains so that we might use them for constructive purposes and provide for our families and honor our obligations on this planet. It was before the Fall that God gave Adam a digging stick and put him to work in the Garden of Eden. But even our effort, our work, is a co-labouring with God and at a very fundamental level it is He who gives us the ability to produce wealth. We dare not put our ability to earn a living in one box and our Christian life in another box. God is part of all our life, including our economic life. When Jesus said we cannot serve God and Mammon He was not separating faith from work, rather He was saying that God can supply all our needs, including our economic needs and He alone is to be our focus.

Now we need to walk a very fine line here. In the OT God was intimately tied up with the agricultural world, the harvests and the seasons. No-one questioned His governance of the rain and the hail and the winds and all the components of agricultural life. Droughts, locust plagues and other agricultural disasters were always attributed to God and often connected with some national sin. Thus agricultural bounty for the people of God was a natural corollary of being His people in His land that Jehovah cared for. Wealth was seen as confirmation of God's blessing hence the almost shocking phrase above "who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant". Prosperity was a confirmation of the Abrahamic covenant (it was the Covenant which he swore to your forefathers). Now Christians have inherited the Abrahamic covenant. Therefore we should inherit the ability to make wealth. Or should we? And if so why aren't I wealthy? Good question!

There are two really wrong notions about the Abrahamic covenant and the ability to produce wealth. Firstly that is magical, as soon as you are born again, you inherit the blessings of Abraham and the cash will arrive automatically, or you just have to "name it and claim it". But in the above chapter in Deuteronomy wealth involves work , effort, and digging vineyards in the Promised Land. The other error is that wealth is a reward for religiosity - so that if you tithe, go to church, say lots of prayers and go to bible studies all the time you will get rich. Not really. In fact hardly at all. If wealth was based on piety we missionaries should be rolling in it, but we aren't, so there goes that theory! Proverbs tell us a lot about living the God-blessed life and while it certainly starts with the fear of the Lord it also involves, wisdom, knowledge, diligent application and moral caution. Also the priests and Levites were not supposed to be very rich, their inheritance was in the Lord. I absolutely debunk the magical, pietistic, name it and claim it theories of wealth production. They are not biblical. The biblical approach involves the sanctifying effect of work and the blessing of God on diligent God-fearing folk who use their wisdom and knowledge in productive ways. This is the approach of Proverbs and of the Protestant work ethic.

The Abrahamic covenant creates a general condition of blessedness,a framework, an atmosphere of the favor of God - in which our efforts to make a living take place. Its a lot easier to earn a living in Christian areas of Europe or the USA than in Outer Mongolia partly because the Christian culture has created blessing in which people share and which makes their strivings more productive. The business of being fruitful, multiplying and having dominion is far easier (but not automatic) for those within the Abrahamic Covenant and this is an observable fact. Yet in our blessing we can become proud and self-sufficient. We can look at our house or car or bank account and think "I am so strong and clever". We can attribute our wealth to ourselves and not to God. We might say "I earned it and its all mine" instead of "God blessed me and gave me the ability to make this wealth, praise His name". So we are to humbly see God as the source of the blessing and the strength that enables us to make wealth. Our whole life is to be lived in Him and sourced from Him. We are not to be self-sufficient but God-sufficient.


John Edmiston


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