UNCOMMON CENTS

What The Bible Says About Earning

11-3-13

Pastor Terry Inman

 

I was backing out of my driveway Wednesday and had to brake for a squirrel and two crows fighting over some trash left behind by the garbage truck. The squirrel was faster than the birds.

It reminded me of the struggle to make ends meet in this competitive and confusing economy. Economic uncertainty creates understandable fear.

It appears that we are making some progress on joblessness. The overall economy is slowly and slightly improving. However personal incomes have remained stagnate.

A leading economist says, “We have an economy that continues to grow, with most of the gains going to the economic elite. I don’t see any bright prospects for the median worker, much less the poor.” Sounds squirrelly?

Many believers have had major reductions in their earnings. Some have cut back in their giving due to higher taxes, higher fuel and food costs. Concern about health care costs also factor into these financial fears.

Unfortunately some are reducing a commitment to giving for the opposite reason. With some signs of an economic post-recession recovery it’s easy to focus spending on our selves after years of pent-up austerity.

Some people erroneously think that since the government is so deeply in debt, it's OK for them to take on personal debt load and purchase merchandise they really can't afford.

The bible weighs in on all this economic confusion. GOD, not the government, the gas station or the grocery store, manages the believers economy. The next four weeks we are going to talk about some biblical “Uncommon Cents” about earning, saving, spending and giving. 

Today we will look at what the bible says about earning. God entrusts us to be His money managers. He promises blessings commensurate with the trustworthiness.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” 1Cor. 4.1-2 (NIV)   

Some believers separate faith and finances. They secularize their work and they spiritualize their worship. Their workplace and their worship are in two different worlds. However making a living and serving God are inseparable in scripture.

According to the bible, faith and work go together. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy he connects earning with believing.

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1Timothy 5:8 (NIV)

Failure to earn a living is a failure of faith. God created us for work and earning involves hard work. Those who work their land will have abundant food,
 but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” Prov. 12:11(NIV)

Work is basic to our faith. Paul said earning and eating go together. “If a man will not work, he shall not eat. We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” 2Th. 3.11-12 (NIV)

Many in our culture have become dependent and have developed a sense of entitlement. They think earning is getting everything they can from the government or from someone else. That’s not earning, that’s panhandling.

That doesn’t mean we don’t help the unemployed or the underemployed.

The bible is very clear that part of earning is sharing with the truly needy. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  1John 3.17 (NIV)

While I’m on that subject most people don’t need a handout they need a hand up. As the old proverb goes… “You can feed a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

We get dignity, value and meaning from work. When God created man he gave him work to do. He was not just a small gardener he was put in charge of all creation. “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Gen. 1.28 (NIV)

He put the first couple in charge of all his creation and then told them they could eat what they produced. It didn’t really get tough until Adam and Eve disregarded God’s instructions and consumed the forbidden fruit.  

The consequence of their sin was “hard labor”. For Adam it was the sweat and toil of tilling the soil. For eve it was painful childbirth and male domination.  Gen.3.16-17 (NIV)

While it is human nature to compete and dominate, God addressed injustice and inequity through the death of his son on the cross. We are no longer cursed. Gal. 3.28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Jesus Christ we are people of equal opportunity

The world’s economic system is not always fair. Even in this land of opportunity we have experienced our share of corporate greed and corruption. One day God will judge the oppressive systems of this world.

In the book of Revelation “Fallen Babylon” represents a financial collapse. 

Built into the traditional definition of earning is the idea of deserved compensation. It is making money by working with our hands or our heads. Work is productive effort or exertion. Earnings are rewards.  

Earning is much more than taking home a paycheck. Actually very few of us take them home anymore. Our earnings get deposited directly to our checking account. Then they quickly disappear with automatic bill pay, online shopping and debit cards!

I seldom use a check anymore and I never have much cash. That’s why we are providing more options for giving here at harbor light. Now you can contribute online and today we have a new giving kiosk in the lobby.

There is also a simple app you can download that will allow you to do the same thing the kiosk does from your cell phone or mobile devise.

Here’s a quick demo: 

  • Step one: Type harborlight.givetoday.com in your search bar. 
  • Step two: Type in your email and password, click login or register. The first time to the site you will need to register an email and password.
  • Step three: Type in your giving amounts in the various windows.
  • Step four: Scroll down to type your credit/debit card information.

We will be telling you more about the mobile giving app and the Kiosk in the next few weeks. You can stop by the foyer kiosk today or any time this month and Sherry Miller our Business Administrator will assist you.

Seriously if we intend to give God the tithe, the first ten percent of our earnings, we need to have a way to contribute before all the other online thieves get to our hard earned cash! The bible says, On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…” 1Cor. 16.2a (NIV)

That’s why we receive offerings as part of our Sunday morning worship. It’s the first day of the week! We will always have an opportunity to give by cash, check or Internet transaction because it is a tangible expression of our dependence on God for our earning ability. “Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” Deut. 8.18 (NIV)

Giving God the first of our earnings honors him and he takes care of us. “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first-fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Prov. 3.9-10 (NIV)

If you are generous with your earnings God will make sure you have more to give. In the ancient biblical culture most earners were small farmers. They were totally dependent on God for seeds, showers, and sunshine.

So the apostle Paul put it this way. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  2 Cor. 9.7-10 (NIV)

Our motive for giving is to increase our earnings. God loves increase! It is not so we can keep more, or consume more, but so we can give more!

Jesus suggested a way to increase earnings. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6.38 (NIV)

Earning is critical to meeting our physical and financial needs. But it is also a means of appreciation and value. I believe God is gets excited about our raises and promotions because it is an indication that we are using the gifts he has given us.

Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a man who left on a journey. He entrusted his servants with money to invest while he was gone. The bible interestingly calls these investments “talents”. It’s an ancient Greek term that describes something of weight or value like a pile of coins.

Three servants received talents according to their ability. One received five, another two and the third, one. Two of the servants went to work and doubled their money. The third servant, out of fear, buried his talent.

The master returned for an accounting. Two of the servants employed their abilities to double the investment. The master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”  Matt. 25.23 (NIV)

The third fearful and unproductive servant was reprimanded and his talent given to the most productive servant. 

Here’s the principle--use it or lose it! Jesus said, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Matt. 25.29 (NIV)

The Lord is looking for followers who can be trusted with abilities and resources, not frightened accumulators. He wants us to earn and share great dividends from the talents and abilities he has given us!  

According to Paul we are to earn money not love money.  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. 1 Tim. 6.10 (NIV)

The way to overcome the love of money is to enjoy your work and be content with your earnings.

"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. Eccl. 5.10,19 (NIV)

The cure for greed is generosity. It is acting in the opposite spirit.

Again Paul writes, Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1Tim. 6.17-18 (NIV)

Earning to get and keep will result in poverty of soul. Earning to give will result in increase. It just makes UNCOMMON CENTS!