I hope you all got to enjoy the Sunday school presentation and/or conversation with our kingdom workers this past Sunday. I felt both encouraged and sobered by their report about what ministry in their country is like, especially when I compare my experience in America. Often missionaries or foreign brethren can give us a fresh perspective on our own life situations, and I’ve found myself thinking about three main truths this week related to our kingdom workers’ visit:
1. Contentment. America has many problems, especially in terms of government, culture, and Covid. The American church also has many problems; even our local church at Calvary is not perfect. Yet when our kingdom workers report that they live in a country where the leader exerts power like an unchecked dictator, where public servants expect bribes just to do their jobs, where officials have barred churches and schools from opening for almost two years, and where even basic, biblical preaching is extremely rare, we should realize how blessed we are where we are. Brethren all over the world live in much worse situations than we do, yet are content. Shouldn’t we also be content, then, and give thanks to God instead of grumble (Phil 2:14-15, 4:6)?
2. Responsibility. The gifts of God are not given to his people idly. Not only are those gifts to be received with thanks, they are also to be used in sober and holy stewardship. Jesus says in Luke 12:48 that our assessment from God at the end of our lives will partly be based on what we did with what we knew and what we were given: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (cf. Mt 25:14-30). Our knowledge, prosperity, time, and resources here in America are not given to us to horde or merely spend on ourselves but to use generously for the good of others and the advancement of the gospel. Anything less is a dereliction of duty and sin.
3. Opportunity. Our kingdom workers mentioned that the dream of many in their country is to leave and find a better life in America. Thus, many people find it truly shocking that anyone would want to leave prosperous America to live in their difficult land. What right-thinking person would ever do so? Only a person motivated by a greater treasure and reward than what this world has to offer (Heb 11:24-26). Truly, we Christians who experience the relative abundance of America have a great opportunity to show how Jesus is more precious than wealth or possessions. How so? By refusing to get caught up in our culture’s work/materialism obsession and by freely giving our time, attention, and resources to what truly matters, even if such means leaving this country to preach Christ or diligently supporting those who go.
People are sometimes surprised to find out how much Jesus spoke about money and wealth in the Bible. The reason is not because God is obsessed with money but because what one does with wealth is a great indicator of what that person loves in his heart (Mt 6:21). Prosperity is a gift (Eccl 5:19), but it is also a test (Prov 17:3; cf. Prov 30:7-9). Having received a fresh perspective about our prosperity, let us steward well what God has given us for his glory.
3 John 7-8, For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.
Questions to Consider:
1. What does your use of wealth say about what you value in your heart?
2. What are some specific ways we can testify to people in America that Jesus is more important to us than wealth or possessions?
3. One Christian writer once wrote: “You can’t take wealth with you, but you can send it on ahead.” In what sense can we turn the passing wealth of this world into eternal wealth (consider Luke 16:1-15)?