The Christian's Proper Relation To Material Affairs

Article aA 1989

The Christian's Proper Relation To Material Affairs

Article aA 1989

This article was written because it appears many people are over involved in material pursuits and don't realize the snare of riches and the greater importance of eternal values then earthly values. Yet the writer wishes he himself knew better how to truly seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and allow these earthly things to be added unto him (Mat 6:33).

Concerning man's responsibility toward material affairs, before man fell into sin and the earth was cursed, the following scriptures read, "And God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replentish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Gen 1:28). "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it" (Gen 2:15). After man fell into disobedience and sin, providing food for himself than became a difficult task, God told man after he sinned, "...cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread..." (Gen 3:17-19). God's people of the Old Testament by the Mosaic Law were given a great responsibility concerning dressing and keeping the earth. Various laws concerning such were given. God's people then were not only to care for the earth but to even carry out God's vengeance on evil nations. Yet in all times before Christ came to earth, having a firm faith in God with first love and submission to Him were the focal issues and as such were practiced all else fell into place. aA-1

In the old era God was keenly interested in wealth and material prosperity for His people. Such was promised to them as they were faithful in their first love and obedience to God. In the old era God was keenly interested in material things of earth. God was the designer of the detailed and elaborate wilderness tabernacle which was a special dwelling place for God as was also the temple which Solomon built. The temple built by Solomon likely was the most magnificent building the world has ever known. Gold and precious metals were most vital elements in God's building plans. Also many individuals in building were cunning and wise in all kinds of earthly occupations and were blest by God in it. Although God was interested in earthly wealth and wisdom as this in the old era, yet for some reason or reasons God ordained a real change for His people in the Christian era with regards to such material affairs. The following paragraphs consider why God might have ordained this change and give numerous Scriptures which clearly reveal this change. aA-2

Because of sin and Satan the present earth is cursed and is awaiting destruction by an eternal fire. God says, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth..." (Isaiah 65:17). Satan had troubled heaven and the angels and has caused disaster and great tribulation on our earth (Rev 12:7-12). "...For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Christ in His incarnation, earth life, death, resurrection, and ascension fulfilled redemption's plan and by these not only established the New Testament Church but by these it is quite clear that he also established within the new heaven and earth a renewed perfect and Holy Kingdom freed from all the affects of Satan wherein He instituted everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24-27, Rev 12:1-10). (Christ's involvement in freeing heaven from all affects of Satan together with other aspects of Christ destroying the works of the devil are further considered in another article coded aM) Peter speaking of the new earth said, "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). aA-3

It is sad that God's people in the old era most often greatly failed in their first love to God and their God given responsibility toward our present earth and thus in general failed of God's good plan for them. Possibly because of man failing his responsibility and God's plan as such, and secondly because of the exalted Kingdom of everlasting righteousness now existing in heaven (the new earth) and thirdly because of the near destruction of our present earth is why God in the New Testament ordained a far different approach for His people regarding material affairs. aA-4

God's Word has much to say about how God desires man to relate to material affairs now in the New Testament era. The following three paragraphs of Scriptures clearly reveal that in the new era God no longer sanctions earthly riches or His people being cunning or wise in earthly occupations as He did in the old era. The first paragraph pertains mostly to one's affections, the second concerns wealth, and the third pertains to earthly wisdom. aA-5

Scriptures concerning one's affections

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"' (Matt 6:19-21). "...Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2). "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). aA-6

Scriptures concerning wealth

Concerning material possessions in the New Testament era James says, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5). "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall care upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together far the last days" (James 5:1). Paul said, "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. for the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (1 Tim 6:8-11). Jesus said, ".. How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:23), "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled... But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. .Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger..." (Luke 6:20-25). When considering material possessions in the new era Christ's parable of the rich man and Lazarus should be soberly considered. In this parable after that Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom and the rich man was in hell pleading Abraham to give him some water, Abraham told the rich man it was impossible to provide him with water and told him, “...Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented" (Luke 16:25). aA-7

Scriptures concerning earthly knowledge

Jesus concerning material knowledge and understanding said, .... for the children of this world are in their generation are wiser than the children of light" (Luke 16:8). Paul concerning such said, "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again. The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours:" (1 Cor 3:18-21). aA-8

The above three paragraphs of scriptures clearly teach that God's New Testament people are to have their affections on heavenly things and not on things of earth. Although riches, mansions, and elaborate things are not at all wrong or evil in themselves, and were ordained to be had by God's people of the Old Testament era, and are ordained to be had in unspeakable abundance by those who enter eternal life, the above Scriptures yet clearly reveal that wealth and riches are not the proper standard for God's New Testament people but rather reveal that they are a snare. The above scriptures also clearly reveal that God's New Testament people are not to be wise in or to glory in fleeting things of earth but rather to be wise in and to glory in things that are eternal. In the light of the above scriptures it becomes clear that the one who has proper faith, affections, and wisdom will not be so impressed with man's earthly wisdom, advancements, accomplishments, and material success. Such an one as Paul said will not "glory in men", for he knows that such abilities of man in the light of God's knowledge and power is lighter than vanity and that such things of earth, because of men's wickedness, will soon be lost in an eternal fire together with the wicked. When one has a proper faith and vision he knows that unto them, that are spiritually minded it is as Paul said, all things are yours ". Such an one's heart will reach out to lost humanity and will together with Paul say, "that I might by all means save some"! God forces no one to His service. only volunteers moved by a living faith are effectual laborers in His service. It was such volunteers that moved the church at Pentecost with power and vehement desire in the effectual saving of souls from deception and hell. In the light of all the above scriptures it is clear that God's children are not to be the poor of this world and more ignorant about material things just to be so, but such is to be the natural result because of having higher aims, meditations, and labors. When men are more ignorant concerning material things and are possessive of less expensive and luxurious homes and possessions only because of such possessions being a doctrinal matter they have largely missed the point. Yet it must be considered as God's children relate properly to material affairs they will be careful that they by them will not be offensive to others, and will desire to be simple and unentangled with their material affairs, lest they would be among those Jesus spoke about in the parable of the sower, who received His Word among the thorns and were choked Spiritually by the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches. aA-9

God miraculously lead the Israelites 40 years in the wilderness feeding them with heavenly manna and miraculously preserving their clothing to teach them, "that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doeth he live" (Deuteronomy 8:3). Although wealth was proper for God's people of the old era, they yet dared not set their love on it, nor anchor their faith in it. God wanted the Israelites by their wilderness experiences to learn that God is the real provider of their physical needs and to thus be a people of faith in God, who would fear and love Him. By the end of the Israelites wilderness journey they had learned much faith in God's power and promises and following God's instructions walked about Jericho a particular number of times, blew their trumpets, the walls fell down and they overtook the city. God wanted His Old Testament people to do His bidding, even when things looked impossible, trusting God with a sure faith in His promises and provisions rather than their own efforts. aA-10

Clearly God wants the same of His New Testament people. Jesus concerning such and the responsibility of His people in the new era said the following. "And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink neither be ye of a doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the Kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Luke 12:29-31). "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or. what shall we drink? or. wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:31-33). "Labor not for the neat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6:27). Christ's thrust here was not that man should do no work. His thrust was that His people would be a people of faith in God, seeking before all else, the welfare of His eternal Kingdom through the safe keeping and saving of souls, knowing assuredly that as such is sincerely done God will provide one's material needs. Christ's thrust in His above teachings was that men would place all emphasis on laboring against sin and attaining to "the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph 4:24). Man is to labor in keeping his "heart with all diligence", and with striving as Jesus in another scripture said " enter in at the strait gate: for many ...will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24). Yet even with the above promises, one can only expect miraculous material provisions if they are truly needed after one has done all diligence firstly in the Kingdom and secondly in material labors. Their are many ways in which God can provide one's needs, things can last longer, crops can be blest, Peter found funds in a fishes mouth, and the list could go on and on. aA-11

It appears Jesus intended His people to do material labors and in so far be involved with material things. Jesus clearly taught that His new era people would possess houses and lands. After that Peter had said how he and the other disciples had forsaken all to follow Jesus and had asked Jesus what their reward would be, Jesus answered saying that those who had left all to follow Him, "...shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark 10:30, Matt 19:27-29). Yet Jesus here speaking of hundred fold houses and lands as well as relatives did not mean personal material wealth, but likely meant as His people are so closely knit as one, in the fear of God and love for Him and one another, many houses and lands would be as their own. aA-12

Paul different places, and rightfully so, exhorted God's New Testament people to work. Yet it should be considered that the vast affects of persecution and the powerful movement of the early church in reorganizing their material lives, sharing in a new way, and even selling many of their goods, had placed many in totally new circumstances wherein a problem of idleness could have easily resulted. Paul addressed the need of his day and it could well be if he wrote concerning material labors in 1989 his writings would carry a different accent because of a different need. Paul for the sake of not hindering the Gospel by being a debtor to his brethren or being a burden to the church, diligently endeavored to provide for himself and to not be chargeable to any. Paul said he worked day and night to achieve this end. Yet Paul did accept charity and much of his time was devoted to the gospel. One must be willing to provide his own material needs or to receive help from others, whichever is most beneficial in the furtherance of the Kingdom. Paul thinking of himself as a father to many spiritual children and of his desire to not be chargeable to them said, “...the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children”. Although parents as Paul here said, ought to help their children acquire the basic needs of life, yet as none should lay up treasures on earth for themselves none should do such for their children or else they do them great harm. Paul said, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (Tim 5:8). It is most important to provide the Spiritual needs of one's home yet if one does not also provide the material, it is evidence that he is not properly seeking first the Kingdom of God or else the other in God's way would be added to him. aA-13

M It appears many or most connect Paul's teaching concerning one being worse than an infidel if he does not care for his own, to one not taking care of his wife and children, It is true that one should take care of his wife and children. Yet in the chapter and context where Paul says that one is worse than an infidel it he does not take care of His own Paul is speaking particularly about taking care of the elderly and of children taking care of their aged parents. See 1 Tim 5:1-10. It appears that parents often are better at taking care of and providing for their children, than children after growing up are at taking care of their aged parents. It is sad how often aged fathers and mothers are not properly cared for by their now grown children. May we take Paul's instruction seriously and take care of our aged parents or we are worse than an infidel! aA-13.5

Jesus in Luke 16:1-9 tells the Parable of the Unjust Steward. Herein Jesus reveals that God's people of the new era in some circumstances are not obligated to earn or be worthy of the earthly goods which they need and use to sustain a livelihood, and thus from this aspect they can properly be unjust stewards of this present earth. Christ herein appears to say that His people should make friends of those who are wiser and wealthier in this world, so when they who are materially ignorant and uninvolved materially fail those friends would receive them into their care. Please see Luke 16:1-9. Could it be Jesus in Luke 16:1-9 is firstly speaking of how God's new era people are to help erase men's sin debt to God through preaching repentance and forgiveness, then speaking of how His people by helping free men of their sin debt in this manner create friends (disciples, converts) of such who were citizens of this present world who generally should be wiser and wealthier in this world than God's people, and lastly is speaking of how God's people by bringing such converts into the church, also bring in these convert's past material advantage into the church? It should be considered that these converts also, because of taking on spiritual interests and involvments, should now tend to become more materially poor and ignorant. In New Testament history God's church has at times, somewhat operated by the above principle. Yet very possibly Christ in the above parable is also speaking of making friends of those who never would become a part of God's people and receiving material help from them. Although Christ taught as in Luke 16:1-9 yet God's people dare not be unjust stewards of earth by receiving anything by means that conflict with Godly principles but must only receive things as they are given in a right way and as they are an asset to the Gospel. aA-14

Paul gave instructions on how believing masters and servants should relate saying, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:" (Colossians 3:22). "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven" (Colossians 4:1). Yet Paul made it clear that one should pursue Spiritual labors and involvements rather than material involvments. Paul in 1 Cor 7 strongly encouraged being as uninvolved with material affairs as possible so one could better "...attend upon the Lord without distraction" (1 Cor 7:35). Paul said, "Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men" (l Cor 7:21-23). Paul for the sake of being able to labor in the Gospel with minimum distraction encouraged individuals to remain unmarried. He said, "But I would have you without carefulness [free of material cares]. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the thing that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband" (1 Cor 7:32-34). He then said, "So then he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better". (1 Cor 7:38 NIV version) (Note this last verse was given in the NIV version as this verse is much clearer therein. The NIV version also agrees very closely with other translations and also agrees better with the original Greek text than does the KJV). In the spirit that Paul said the above verses he would also say that one who effectually spends more time in the Gospel doeth better than one who spends less. It should be considered that that service to the Gospel, without distraction, of which Paul so often spoke, likely is hard for God's people to understand today because likely we are in that time when the witnesses of God laid dead on the streets of a wicked world (Rev 11), the bride all slumbered and slept (Matt 25), and Satan is loosed (Rev 20:3&7, 11:7, 17:8), aA-15

God's people of the old era were a Kingdom of this present world. Their work in the keeping and subduing of the earth and providing for themselves was to be done within six days of the week and they were to do no work on the Sabbath. Jesus concerning His New Testament Kingdom said, “...My kingdom is not of this world: if my Kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36). God's people of the new era no longer carry the same obligation to keep and subdue the earth as in the old era and are drawn apart from the world and things therein in a new way. God's people of the new era do not carry any obligation whatsoever to be engaged in material labors six days of the week, Yet they are obligated to be busy doing good seven days of the week, firstly seeking the welfare of God's kingdom and it's righteousness and secondly providing their material needs. aA-16

V Paul said, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim 2:4). The Christian thus should not endeavor to attain more than the basics of life for his livelihood as endeavoring to attain more than the basics of life for his livelihood will cause him to became more entangled with the affairs of this life than what is necessary. The writer has often heard the thought that the proper way of dealing with material affairs and things is to start at the bottom of the ladder. Although one needs the necessities of life, one rather than climbing the ladder of attaining personal material things, should stay as low as possible on the ladder of possessing and consuming personal material things. One should stay as low as possible on the ladder of material things , firstly for the reason of not being entangled with the things of this life to thus be better able to tend to the things of the Gospel without distraction, secondly to be better able to give funds for the furtherance of the Gospel, and thirdly to be better able to give or lend funds or possessions to the poor. Also the danger and snare that riches can cause should here be considered. How much permission does God's Word and Spirit give those who are more wealthy to climb higher on the ladder of possessing and consuming material things, and thus live above the basics of life? aA-17

The Christian in material labors should endeavor to not be involved in producing such things as the Christian himself should not possess. Many things which the true Christian would not possess and thus should not make, are the things which others want and will purchase from those who will make them as such, thus limiting the Christian's occupations. Possibly because simple types of farming do not have such complications, do not require one to be involved with many other uncomely social and business complications, and provides nice work for the children is why the prophets speaking of the general occupation for God's New Testament children spake of farming and likely why Jesus spoke of lands (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3, Mark 10:30). aA-18

V As the Christian's love and affections are not in this world he should gladly take on the occupation which permits him to be as free as possible to focus his talents on eternal values even if such occupation is totally different than he would choose if he were a citizen of this present world. Farming is not the sole occupation for the Christian, other occupations may fit the circumstance better. Paul was a tent maker. Oh that God's people do not set their heart on their occupation or their possessions but remember they are just to sustain them in a much greater and more important work! May the scriptures in the above three paragraphs be remembered which reveal how a living faith in God's Holiness, severity, and ways will effect one's affections and goals and thus his possessions and field of knowledge and wisdom. Paul speaking of some who had turned away from the faith as compared to those who had kept the faith said the following, "(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mild earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:18-20). Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". “...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh". (Matt 6:21&12:34). May we honestly ask ourselves what subjects our most natural speech encloses in common conversation among our loved ones. aA-19

V That one's relation to material affairs are created through the influence of a living faith and proper affections and goals rather than only through the influence of one's teaching or an accepted standard is of infinite importance. One's eternal destiny is effected far more by how one relates to his possessions than what they are. Yet how unlikely it is for one to attain to great possessions without his heart being in them. How unlikely it is for one to attain to earthly wealth while one has vision of the true riches and of the snare of laying up treasures on earth which will find it's end in hell. In closing the writer wishes that the relations of all to material affairs, would be the result of having a living faith and proper vision and affections. aA-20

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