In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.
Thursday, 21 November 2013
Who is my Master? (2) (Matt. 6:24)
In the Bible, there are lovely examples of how to use our assets in a way that pleases God. There is Philemon, who gladly let the church in Colosse meet in his home (Phile 2). There is Joseph, the landowner from Cyprus, who sold some of his property and used what he received to help the church in Jerusalem; for this and other actions the apostles called him ‘the son of consolation’ (Acts 4:36-37). There is Lydia, the businesswoman who offered her property in order that the work of the gospel in Philippi could proceed (Acts 16:14-15, 40), and as a consequence the gospel flourished there. There is Joseph of Arimathea, who has gained lasting fame because he gave his tomb to Jesus for a couple of nights.
Those who behave in such a biblical way have already realised two very basic truths. The first is that everything belongs to the Lord in the first place. Whatever they have been given by him is given to them as his stewards. The day will come when he will give it to someone else. Therefore they use whatever they have, aware that they are accountable to God for how they manage his assets.
The second basic truth that they realise is that their whole life is an act of worship. Wherever they are, and whatever they are doing, they function as servants of God who are dedicated to his will. They have heeded Paul’s exhortation in 12:1-2: ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’ A person who has adopted these basic outlooks on life will not serve mammon.
The contrast with money points to at least two other features that should mark a follower of Jesus. The first is that they should find their security in God. Those who serve mammon find their safety in what it can give, and often discover that it is very insecure. Disciples of Jesus have perfect and endless security in their God: ‘For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom. 8:38-39).
The second feature is that disciples of Jesus should be satisfied with God and his dealings with them. In our use of language, the pronoun ‘my’ indicates what we possess. What more can a person say than ‘my God’, and what more will a person eventually want? If he has God, he has found the source of living water that will satisfy his soul for ever.
James Boice asks this very challenging question: ‘Can anything be more insulting to God, who has redeemed us from the slavery of sin, put us in Christ, and given us all things richly to enjoy than to take the name of our God upon us, to be called by his name, and then to demonstrate by every action and every decision of life that we actually serve money?’