This World's Good

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)

A certain—How can I say this?—patina of confidence, a swagger, if you will, begins to tell when once you reach a certain threshold in the realm of finances. When the worries that still beset you surround, not “Am I gonna make it paycheck to paycheck?” but, “Can I afford a better brand (with cooler logo, no doubt) of the thing I’ve been wanting for some time now?”, you know you’ve made it. The Word of God is full of examples (some might even look to be counterintuitive to the way of thinking that comes with a beat-down and penniless way of thinking and of life). In other words, it’s easy to run roughshod over other people (regardless of their financial situation) if the confidence in which you walk around springs from your bank account. Because this world isn’t good (see Matthew 19:17), not in the slightest. It’s actually quite nasty, wholly antagonistic to the things of Jesus Christ. The King James wording in the passage up top calls an abundance of finances or provision “this world’s good”. But think about it: it’s at least one if not several steps removed from “God’s good”. And God is good, all the time. When you walk around with the confidence of being able to throw a line in the lake and reel in, not just dinner (the fish), but enough money to pay taxes for two people (see Matthew 17:24-27), I’d say you have more than the aforementioned “world’s good”. Amazing. That’s when you’ve truly “made it”.

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Yes, charge them. Charge them double. Actually, I’m not sure if that’s scriptural. Perhaps found in some Old Testament bylaw, either way, I’m being facetious. But notice this. I find, if I may, that Paul encapsulates the point of my prior paragraph more succinctly and elegantly than I and with fewer words. But he makes another interesting point: namely “God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy”. God is lavish with His gifts and all He asks is that we get to know Him—a loaded statement if ever there was one. I was walking through a neighborhood tonight as the sun set. As I approached the back end of a strip mall (most of whose spaces were vacant), I looked across the street to my left and noticed a couple sparrows hopping on some pebbled concrete steps leading up to a real estate office. They chittered in the golden light. All around the scene was a stillness and beauty that you could not buy. The leaves reflecting a beautiful orange that offset the deep green of the shrubbery in which they made their nest. I felt that if I were to sit on the steps as the sun went down (be willing to wait, in other words), I’d be privy to some secret that only they and the Father knew. He gives us richly all things to enjoy.

“For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance many be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14)

There’s a lot to this. If you struggle with bills and anxiety and money-related issues, please understand that God is taking care of you. Though there is a hard-won pragmatism that comes from struggling to make ends meet even as you work toward carving out a better life for yourself. God feeds the sparrows, says Jesus (or thereabouts, see Matthew 10:29-31). He will most certainly take care of you. And not that I look to add anything to what the Lord said—He, too, puts things simpler and more succinct than do I, what’s up with that?—but never lose sight of the little things of beauty that God wants to show you. Things—thousands upon thousands of them, if you’re paying attention—that bring joy to your heart and His. And with reference to giving and money and finances and all that? Here’s a good guideline:

“Every man (and woman) according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)