Saturday, January 20

God's Rich

Whoops! I have been posting regularly via email for the past several months, but I just found out they were going to the wrong place (some black hole in cyberspace, I guess). So I will post all my lessons over the next couple weeks until I catch you all up!

Financial Study #5

Eph. 2:4-10
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Lessons (especially related to God & Money): Four things strike me in this section relating to wealth:

(1) God is rich, and particularly Paul things it's a big deal that he's rich in mercy, and loves us with a great love. This means I have freedom to fail--in one sense an infinite freedom to fail--in dealings with my finances, because God is rich in mercy. This doesn't mean failure in terms of idolatry (although repenting of idolatry always takes me back to a gracious and merciful Father with wide open arms), but any failure in accounting, managing, even foolish choices, can be covered by his mercy--he's rich in it! God's mercy dwarfs my gaffs; errors that feel enormous to me are truly microscopic in the scope of eternity.

Principle: All my dealings with money, to be oriented rightly, should be rooted in the knowledge of God's great love for me. And I need not fear failure or mistakes because there is plenty of mercy to cover them.

(2) God has made me alive with Christ, so that I'm no longer driven by impulses of my flesh, the ways of this world, and the accuser. Instead I am truly free to operate as I want to. Clearly I need to go through a process of transformation so that all of the "old humanity"--the dead flesh--that clings to me can take on the "new humanity's" ways of dealing with money and resources. But this freedom sounds glorious, doesn't it?

Application: If there are ways I don't feel free to do what I really want with money, I need to cry out to God and pursue the process of transformation he has for me in that area, until I am no longer enslaved to death but living as alive with Christ.

Where do I feel enslaved to urges rather than free to do what I truly want to? I do not spend the time managing my finances that I really would like to. Somehow my time is not going where I would really like it to go. I want freedom from whatever keeps me thinking that it's unimportant or distasteful to sit down and balance our checkbook or plan for our financial needs.

(3) God is generous. For me to grow up into maturity as a true child of my heavenly Father means I will become more and more generous with all that I have--mercy, certainly, and material possessions as well.

How am I doing in generosity? I think God did a huge work in me a number of years ago to free me from anxiety that kept me from being open-handed with money and possessions. I would still like to grow in this, being truly free to pass on whatever I have rather than worrying too much about whether I'll ever need a particular possession in the future.

(4) God created us for good works, which he has prepared for us to walk in. My money and possessions are part of what I have access to in order to do good works. Money is not an end in itself: that is idolatry. Money is intended to be used to do good in this world. Eating and being clothed and housed in a way that makes us capable and ready to do those good works requires money. And the supplies and transportation needed to accomplish our sense of calling takes finances as well. Certain good works inherently involve money often--caring for the poor, for example.

Application: As Jen and I get more and more of a sense of what the good works are that we are created for, our resources should be used more and more to finance those good works.

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