Sometimes folk have asked me "where do you live?" and I
usually say "... Elizabeth Field. That is my home, that
is my property". And that is true. I do live there. but wait a
minute - the Bible says that I am not the real owner, that
everything that I possess is God's. He has made me the manager, to
be responsible for His property.
Psalm 24:1 says, "The
earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they
that dwell therein."
We might claim ownership but it distinctly says that the LORD is the
real owner not only of the Earth but everything that is in it. The
prophet Haggai says that the silver and the gold also belongs to God
(Haggai 2:8). This means that seeing the wealth of the world belongs
to God it should be handled with care and respect. The wise man
Solomon warns about this in
Proverbs 11:28 first half, "Whoever
trusts in his riches will fall..."
A few years back Alan Bond was a household name. He was an
Australian hero, having won the prestigious America Cup, and
building up a fortune through the beer trade. He was not known as
one who contributed in a big way to a worthy cause. I do not know if
he ever gave to our Appeal for Missions. In Perth the tallest
building carried with pride the name BOND. Perth and Bond were
almost synonymous names. Today that building has lost the name Bond
and is now the R & I Building. Alan Bond is a has been.
The other hi flyers in the financial world have either died or
escaped to a foreign country - such as Christopher Skase. Kerry
Packer is a big man in many ways, the heart attack that was almost
fateful a while back gave him an appreciation of the St John's first
aid and ambulance services, but other than that he is not known as a
great benefactor of humanity.
How true are the words of Solomon "whoever trusts in his riches
will fall...". Then he goes on to say in
Proverbs 11:28 second
half, "but the righteous man will thrive like a green leaf."
Famous people who put God first
How different was the experience of Henry Ford and E.W. Woolworth.
Henry Ford was the founder of the great Ford motor company. E.W.
Woolworth originated the chain stores which can be found in most
countries. These men put God first in their financial arrangements.
Actually there is a very impressive list of famous people who did
the same thing, such as William Colgate of toothpaste fame, James
Kraft of Kraft cheese, H.J. Heinz of tinned foods.
The name of Rockefeller may not mean that much here
in Australia but it is a very well known name in America. John
Rockefeller, the great oil king, was the richest man of his day, and
was the world's greatest philanthropist. As a boy of 15 he learned
that the Baptist church of Cleveland Ohio was in debt so he thought
up a plan. What he did, was to stand outside the church door every
Sunday asking for donations. Before long he had collected enough to
pay off the whole debt! When he was 17, he was made a trustee of the
church. It says in
Proverbs 13:11 second half, "but he who
gathers money little by little makes it grow." And how true this
was in the case of John Rockefeller! then later on when he was a man
of great wealth he gave away large sums of money, so much so, he was
said to be the world's greatest philanthropist.
Proverbs 11:24 says, "One man gives freely, yet
gains even more". Now there have been many a 15 year old
boy who has learned that his church was in debt but very few who did
something to remedy the matter. More than that he paid tithe when he
was earning a mere $3.50 a week. These men were not stingy with God
and God blessed them in many ways.
Proverbs 3:9,10 says, "Honour the LORD with thy
substance and with the first fruits of all thine increase so shall
thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with
By putting God first, the blessings will follow. Most
of us think that a tenth or tithe is quite a lot of money to return
to the LORD. But one man Mr Le Torneaux, the earthmoving contractor,
decided to do more than that, he entered into a partnership with God
on a 50/50 basis, and has greatly prospered.
Proverbs 11:25 says,
"A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself
be refreshed." We are assured that if we put God first that our
money will go a lot further, and that has been the experience of
many who have done this.
God gives more than temporal
But the LORD not only gives temporal prosperity, but
He gives us something far better than that. He gives us Eternal Life
and how little we understand just what that means. If it were an
extension of our present life, it would be hardly worth it. But if
we could catch a vision of what it might be like we would be exited.
There will be technology so advanced that it will stagger our
senses, unlimited space travel, meeting up with the inhabitants of
other worlds, talking to them with no language barriers, finding out
all about them.
Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they
will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
We will have a wonderful feeling of well being,
vitality, that we have never experienced before. We need to open our
minds and allow our imagination to really take over, and think big,
and I assure you that our minds will expand and grasp the unseen.
The Church should be alive
Sometimes we look upon the Church as an institution
and unfortunately this is justified in some cases because there are
occasions when it does appear that way. This is not the way that God
wants the Church to be, it is His intention that it should be
breathing life into those who are dead in sin. It is not an
undertaker's Chapel where you can smell death. God's purpose for the
Church is that it should be alive, responsive to the spiritual needs
of the community and the individual.
Proverbs 29:18 first half says,
"Where there is no vision the people perish." The Church must
catch that vision or the people will perish. If it fails to do this,
then it should be closed down.
Young people often ask "Is there anything that we can
do? How can we cut through the red tape, the narrow thinking of
those who have lost their vision of the Church's true mission. Young
people say, "We do not have a voice in the running of the Church,
no one listens to us, no one cares." I believe that the young
people should be allowed to speak out if they feel that they can
improve things, and if they make enough noise someone will take
Often the older members of the Church will say,
"We must give our youth the opportunity to participate, to
contribute to the running of the church." We all agree with that
kind of counsel, but sometimes it does not work out that way. One
church had the selection committee present their report, the names
were presented which included a young lady baptized a while back.
Did you know what happened? You would hardly believe it. Her name
was objected to. Now you might think that there was something wrong
with her, but there wasn't. The objection was that she was too young
in the church. Now do you think that was fair? Do you think that was
right? Can you imagine the surprise and shock that the young lady
received when she was told that her name had been objected to? I ask
you, how are the young people going to have a chance to have their
say if they do not have the opportunity? How can they learn how the
church is run, if they are excluded from the church board or any
other office? The church needs to have fresh ideas and original
thinking, so that it will not lose its vitality.
Summing up what we've talked about
We have been talking about talents.
First of all we looked at the talent of using money.
We noticed how that it was abused by the big tycoons, the hi fliers
in the world of finance. In the first half of
1 Timothy 6:10 we
read, "For the love of money is the root of all evil". And
Proverbs 11:28 says, "He who trusts in his riches will fall...",
and fall they did. And so will everyone who puts his trust in
riches. However we noticed that those who honoured God in returning
the tithe and offerings were greatly blessed. Men like Henry Ford
and W. Woolworth, John D. Rockefeller and many others. But you do
not have to be wealthy men like these were. The Bible assures us
that "one man gives freely yet gains even more (Proverbs 11:24). As
a person gives, so they are blessed. And God assures us that we will
never come to poverty by giving, but rather you will gain even more.
Next we talked about the talent of giving of
ourselves, for everyone of us has some talent or talents. If we use
these talent or gifts in God's service they will grow and develop
with the Lord's blessing.
I also mentioned that the young people wish to use
their talents in service for the church, but are rarely given the
opportunity. Young people have very special talents. They have big
ideas, full of optimism, radiate vitality, usually a driving force
in the church. I will never forget Julie Dyer Rhoenfeldt and the
leadership she gave to the Berri church up in the Riverland. She was
everything I have just mentioned about young people. A born leader
and chock full of bright ideas. My own daughter Julie used to amaze
me with the ideas she would think up. Yes the church needs talents
like these. No matter how little one may have of this world's goods
we can still honour God with what ability we have. Above all we
should pray for an understanding heart, to be able to help others.
a person be content living in poverty?
The question has been asked, "Can a person be
content when he is living in poverty?" The Bible has the answer.
You will find it in
Proverbs 28:6, "Better a poor man whose walk is
blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse." One is
better off with just a little of this world's good. After all the
best things in life are free, such as the air that we breathe, the
sunshine that brightens our lives, the flowers to gladden our
hearts, the stars in the heavens above which tell us that there is
Someone who cares.
Why does God allow some to have more
Often the question is asked, "Why does God allow some
people to have more of this world's goods than others? It possibly
has something to do with the individual. Most of us are aware that
some have the ability of being able to manage things better than
others. Handling finances is a special talent. Right from the start
of our marriage I recognised that my wife was a good business
manager. I had already discovered that I was not gifted in that
direction. As a matter of fact I had come to the conclusion that I
was an absolute failure, for money just slipped through my fingers
like sand. We would have been in poverty street in a very short time
if I had been in charge of the finances. Most likely this is the
reason why that some have more of this world's goods than others.
However being rich or wealthy does not mean that a
person does not have a responsibility to his poorer brothers. Take
the example of Abraham for instance. He was a rich man, but he
showed compassion to those who were less fortunate. He give his
nephew Lot the choice of the land: allowing him to select the best
of the country. I thought that was very generous of him.
Job was considered the richest man in the East yet he
shared his blessings with others. He says in
Job 31:17 (NIV) "If
I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the
Verse 19 says, "If I have seen anyone
perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment..."
Verse 24 says, "If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure
gold, you are my security..." I am sure that it was because Job
showed such tender care for his fellowmen that God blessed him with
an abundance of good things.
How can we keep ourselves out of
Some have asked, "How can we help ourselves to
keep out of debt?" Yes there is something that we can do to help
ourselves, to take care of some unexpected expense, and that is to
put aside some money to take care of an emergency. In Selected
Messages Book 2 (EG White) p. 329, it says "Every week you should
lay by in some secure place five or ten dollars not to be used up
unless in case of sickness." If we should do this you will find
that it is a wonderful thing to know that you can put your hands on
a goodly sum of money if an emergency should arise, or if tragedy
should strike, if the necessity should present itself. Everyone
should do this and you will have the personal assurance that you
will have something on hand to meet the situation.
Putting God first
You may be able to
share with someone else who is in need.
My wife has been putting aside a
'second tithe' for as long as I can remember. This has been a real
blessing, for not only have we been able to support many appeals
which we could not have done otherwise, but we have been able to
help other folk as well. One young man was having a struggle
financially at Avondale College and we were able to help him and now
he is a successful evangelist. I mention this so that it might
encourage others to do the same. It comes back to what we are told
Proverbs 3:9,10 "Honour the LORD with thy substance and
with the first fruits of all thine increase so shall thy barns be
filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
By putting God first the blessings will follow, and
if you do this you will find that it will change your life, and it
will change others' lives as well.