“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God…Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17-18)
“Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)
We are about to embark on a study of wise financial stewardship. Do we genuinely believe that everything we have comes from God’s hand, either directly or indirectly? As I approach worship today, am I going with a sense of satisfaction and contentment with my “lot?” Or, am I going to approach God as if I am the one responsible for my situation in life? If I believe that my wealth or success has been generated solely by my works, I have little need of God and worship is less crucial to my “other” life of business and home. So let’s ask ourselves this question, “Why am I worshipping God today?” There are many possible answers, some superficial and some profound. Do I go because I am commanded to go, expected to worship, and it’s the right thing to do? Am I going to church because I love Jesus Christ who died for me, for my forgiveness and eternity in heaven with him—because I want to return his love? Am I worshipping today because I belong to God and I love to gather with God’s children delighting in his grace and truth? Do I go because the church belongs to God; it is his bride, and I want to be at the wedding party? Which answer comes closest to yours?
If we go to church satisfied and content with our lives, with all that God has given us, we are more likely to delight in all aspects of our worship. Agur, the author of Psalm 30, had two requests for his life that should be our requests to be content with what God has given us. In his prayer, Agur first asks for God’s help to not be deceitful or a liar, and for God to keep away those who lie and might deceive him. The second request is that he would not have too much or too little of the things of this world. Too many possessions may deceive us into thinking that we deserve them and have earned them for ourselves, forgetting God’s sovereign providence. He rules over our lives and is the first cause of our poverty or wealth. Accomplishments that we achieve are done so by his power, having created us with the skills, talents, and gifts whereby we are successful.
Poverty has its own challenges. If I focus on what I do not have that I need, I may resort to getting my needs met in sinful or ungodly ways. The other big obstacle with poverty is the tendency to become materialistic in my thinking, “If I only had this, my life would be better.” A poor person’s physical life is doubtless improved by material enrichment, but his spiritual life may suffer as he focuses more on earthly possessions and less on God and his spiritual growth.
If we are to be wise today, we will take to heart this simple prayer as we worship the Lord: “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)