Over the past four weeks, I have been in Oklahoma City, Jamaica, and just returned from Felton, CA (you’ll need to Google that one). In many respects, all three places are very different — geographically and demographically:
- In Oklahoma City, we say a lot of pick-up trucks and sweet tea.
- In Jamaica, we experienced the least amount of air conditioning.
- In Felton, without question, I walked past the highest number of old hippies. In fact, it seems like only old hippies live in Felton.
In many respects, that’s the difference between being at home and visiting a new or strange place.
When we read the Old Testament story of Job, we might feel like we have nothing in common with Job. For one, we live in the modern age and pay for items with cash or credit rather than camels. It’s also unlikely we will ever have 10 children, 3,000 camels or 500 donkeys. And while we will struggle and face difficulties, it’s unlikely it will be to the same degree as Job.
One of the recurring themes in Job has to do with his finances. The story itself begins by describing Job’s great wealth; he had 3000 camels! By end of chapter one, he has lost everything, including his camels. But the book of Job ends with Job having more than he started with.
In the first chapter we are allowed to overhear a conversation between God and Satan. From Satan’s perspective, it’s easy to explain Job’s righteousness: God has given him great wealth.
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” In other words, if Job was a struggling plumber, he’d not be as devoted or righteous.
This question sets in motion the entire plot line of the book of Job. Yet, Job’s story isn’t about money but his relationship to God. The same is true about our financial problems and struggles. They are about our relationship with God.
Let’s take a 30,000-foot tour of Job and his finances and then I’ll close with three challenges.
Wealth is not a substitute for wisdom.
But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? 13 No mortal comprehends its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living. 14 The deep says, “It is not in me”; the sea says, “It is not with me.” 15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed out in silver. 16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or lapis lazuli. 17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold. 18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies. 19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold. — Job 28:12-19
Job knew that true wisdom came from God: And God said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” — Job 28:28
Wealth is a vehicle for doing good.
Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, 12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. 13 The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. — Job 29:11-16
Does it sound like Job is tooting his own horn? YES! But for 28 chapters his friends have been beating him up, accusing him of being a hypocrite.
Wealth is not the ultimate security.
“If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ 25 if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, 26 if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, 27 so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, 28 then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high. — Job 31:24-28
For Job, to place his trust and security in anything other than God was the same as being unfaithful to God.
Perhaps the most important principle we learn right away in chapter one:[bctt tweet=”Job understood that he had stewardship and that God had ownership.” username=”kenhensley”]
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. — Job 1:20-22
It’s important to remember these are Job’s first words after everything had been taken away from him – his camels, donkeys, even his children. What would your first words be? (Remember, there are children listening!).
The truth is, you didn’t come into this world with anything and you’re not taking anything with you. That’s true for the rich and the poor, black or white.
When we talk about stewardship, what we mean is that God has entrusted us with whatever we have. We don’t own it. We are to manage it wisely.
But how? How can we be the best stewards of what God has given us?
Put God first in your finances through tithing 10% to your local church.
Nobody likes to come in second – including God. God wants to be first in every aspect of your life, including your finances. Why? Because he knows that anything else you put ahead of him will eventually lead to disappointment.
Make a commitment to get out of debt.
Too many people live the minimum payment lifestyle and end up enjoying the minimum amount of blessings. Proverbs 22:7 is still true today: The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
Choose generosity over greed.
What’s one of the first words a child learns? Mine! By nature, we are greedy people. But the gospel is all about transforming people. [bctt tweet=”The more you follow Jesus, the more you will find yourself being generous rather than greedy.” username=”kenhensley”]
And here’s the funny thing: you will enjoy it!
If all of us who call Mountainview home took on these three challenges, it would revolutionize more than just your life or our church – it would revolutionize our community and our world.
Let’s get started.