Tuesday, January 23

Being God's Flesh

Here's lesson 6.
Passage(s): Eph. 2:11-22
11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called "the uncircumcision" by those who are called "the circumcision" --a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands-- 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
   14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Lessons (especially related to God & Money):
I see 2 things in this passage which strike me as applicable to finances. (1) Jesus, through the cross, set aside (made worthless) the law with its commandments and ordinances. The Old Testament laws regarding tithing, giving one tenth of all produce, and the first-fruits of crops and animals as sacrifices to God, to feed the poor and the Levites and priests, are nullified. We have freedom in Christ to give anything. Of course, the law of Christ is "Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." So I think tithing may be a good spiritual discipline, but really, as my father-in-law put it, in the New Testament much more than a tithe is required of us: everything. We are to yield our bodies as living sacrifices. Jesus, of course, is our example. So no longer is 90% mine to do with as I please. It is all to be sacrificed to God, and all to be used in loving God and loving my neighbor. Imagine if Jesus had just given 10%!

(2) We are growing together into a holy temple, a dwelling place for God. God lives and dwells in us corporately. Thus every action of ours should become an action of worship. Every act we participate in, God participates in (as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians, if a believer sleeps with a prostitute that person has joined Christ with the prostitute)! This is sobering. A temple is a place people come to meet God, and we, the church, ought to be a place where people meet God, including in our usage of finances.

All our money belongs to God and every nickel is to be used to love God and to love my neighbor. Every action of spending should be an act of worship. God participates in every way that we use our money, whether for good or for bad, because he dwells in us.

How are you going to apply today's lesson to your life practically? This week I will not only see my giving into the offering plate as an act of worship, but every time I take some cash or my debit/ATM card out of my wallet, I will try to remember it is an act of worship, an opportunity to sacrifice and love God and my neighbor, and that God is participating in that transaction.

Lord, give me grace! Holy Spirit, remind me to think of Jesus every time I pull out my wallet. Guide me to sacrificial worship with every financial transaction. Help me to use my money to love you and my neighbors as myself. Help me to stop thinking of 10% as yours and 90% as mine in some sense, though I "know" it's all yours. Help me instead to see every cent that comes through my hands as belonging to you, as holy, as a resource of your holy temple available for loving you and others.

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