|This section of posts is specifically devoted to the Christian walk and Godly influences in our lives – an encouragement of God’s power and love. They are a result of my own excitement of Biblical revelation as I read daily through God’s Word but also include the thoughts of many others. God is such an integral part of my life – my journey – that I know I am to pass on that enthusiasm for Him. Comments and discussion are very welcome, but please be respectful of the writers and of the other posters. Please email me, from the contact page any articles that you would like to share with readers and I will include them on a monthly basis.|
Jesus tells us a parable in Mathew 25, concerning a man of wealth, who is preparing for a journey and who gives certain amounts of money to his three servants for safe keeping. While he is gone, two of the servants not only keep the money safe, but invest it and see a return on the investment. However, the third one just buries the money and does absolutely nothing with it. When the man returns from his journey, he is angry at the third servant and calls him “lazy” for doing nothing with the money. Then he states, “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.”
This story is to illustrate a truth in the Kingdom of God – that those who have faith and God’s Truth and who share it and grow in it will receive even more but that those with little faith and who hide it and neglect it will lose even that little bit of a sense of God.
I see another lesson here as well. As a gardner and food processor, I see each item that comes from the ground as a literal gift from God. Shoot, each item I find at the store at a rock bottom price that I can buy in bulk is a gift from the Lord to me! But for gardeners, last year the gift was sparse indeed. What little we got out of our garden, we still processed and used instead of letting it go to waste. Now, this year we are seeing such bounty. The blueberries and strawberries were amazing and the peach and nectarine trees are loaded to bending. And the apples. Oh my. The apples over-runneth. Buckets of apples await being changed to sweet apple butter, smooth applesauce or crispy, dehydrated cinnamon snacks. It’s enough to make a body overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed or no, the fact is that nothing can go to waste. God has given this crop for safe keeping and we are not to be like the lazy servant and do nothing with it. Lots of work goes into canning, dehydrating and freezing food items, but the blessing that comes from the result is so exciting. When we do our part to take God’s provision and preserve it for the future, we are honoring Him and showing gratitude for that provision. Food in the pantry is just as valuable as a paycheck in the bank.
So as you go about your shopping and your gardening – digging weeds, picking produce, sweating over a pressure canner or loading a grocery cart with 18 bags of celery, on sale, for dehydrating, just remember that as you are working hard at making use of that with which you have been entrusted, and that every single item is a gift from God. When we think of it like that, we can joyfully dive into the work and give thanks to God.
In Mathew 6:19-21, Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Has anyone else heard the dire financial predictions of hyperinflation and the calamity that will follow? And no, they aren’t talking about people over-inflating their tires, causing blowouts with the resulting chaos on the highways… they are talking money and the price of necessary goods going out the roof. One need only look at the modern day history of Russia to understand what hyperinflation means when historians aren’t exaggerating that in the 80′s, a wheelbarrow load of Russian paper money was needed to buy a loaf of bread.
So when we hear these warnings and everyday conversations turn to “what’s coming?” or “what do you think we should do?” or naysayers accuse, “you are hoarding” and “you are operating in fear”, how do we absorb what the world is telling us and discern what God assures us?
In the Old Testament, we are told of Joseph in Egypt who interpreted Pharoah’s dreams regarding a coming famine. Joseph was instructed by Pharoah to prepare for the famine during the years of plenty, so that the people of Egypt and the surrounding countries would be supplied. Joseph did so and was able to provide for the many people who were starving during the seven years of famine. Then, in Proverbs 6:6, we read: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, and yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” and again in Proverbs 10:4-5: “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers his crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”
To me, then, the answer lies in the motive behind planning and storing. All through scripture, God provided abundance in order to plan for times of want. Those who recognized His provision, were wise in storing up for a rainy day – or not so rainy in the case of famine – and acknowledged, though, that ultimately God was their provision, not the stuff stored. Because of their discernment, these people were able to be servants to those around them, helping those who were in need. Jesus, in Mathew, talks about another motive, however, and that is the motive of “self sustenance.” It is a heart condition that fears the future and imagines man’s power over that future. These people are the “misers” and the “hoarders” who think that by storing gold or food or clothing or cash, they can beat the future and whatever it might bring. They are of no use to those around them because when times of want do come, they continue hoarding for the “times that are still to come” and share with no one. In other words, humans can practice the same action with different motives and it be a correct action under the one and a selfish action under the other.
One interesting thing that I noted as I read through the account of Joseph in Genesis chapters 39-47 is that in the account, the government, not the people, had planned for the time of famine. Because the people did not plan ahead, they wound up giving up their livestock, land and their freedom in order to have the government take care of them. Genesis 47:18 “…they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land…Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharoah…So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharoah. The Egyptions, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharoah’s and Joseph reduced the people to servitude from one end of Egypt to the other.” The Proverbs about the ant, on the other hand, shows a different scenario where the ant, without any orders from a leader and without depending on a ruler, is naturally wise enough to store up for winter.
This is a strong lesson for us to learn. God makes provision, and those who pay attention to His voice see that provision. When God gives us the opportunity of abundance, then when we see it, we can set some of it aside for the future. If we do that, then when tough times come, whether by natural disaster, economic collapse, sickness or change of situation, we can be of service to those in need quickly and abundantly!! With a packed pantry, one can throw together a box of goods for one’s neighbor as quickly as it takes to pack the box. And so, if you see that bag of sugar on sale for half price, grab a half a dozen of them and pray that you might be continually open to gifting your neighbor in need!!
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6: 24-26