Traveling LightMark 6:7-11Theme: Stewardship.This week’s lessons teach us how to honor God with the gifts he has given us.
LessonEarthly treasure is perishable. Frequently it fails to last even in this life; it certainly will not go with us into eternity. So what are we to use it for? The answer is that we are to use possessions to do good so that those good deeds will themselves produce treasures for us – not on earth, but in heaven, “where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20).
People have a natural desire to lay up treasure in the sense of investing in what will last. That is not bad. But that kind of treasure can only be had in heaven and even then only if we properly use our treasures possessed here.
I put the matter as clearly as I know how. The money you spend on yourself (which is necessary up to a point) will not produce treasure in heaven. It will be gone with the spending, and its benefits will perish when you do. But money you spend on others (which should be a rising percentage of your income, as God prospers you) – that treasure will last forever. It will be translated into eternal treasures to be presented to you at the Lord’s coming.
I close with an important thought. Wealth is a blessing when properly received and used, but there is something more important than wealth or even the proper use of it. It is being free, as God intends us to be free. Possessions tie us down. Therefore, although most of us must have at least some possessions (and many of us will have a great deal), the only way to be free is to hold those possessions as if we did not hold them and thus be ready always to give them away at a moment’s notice.
I am impressed with the way A. W. Tozer develops this from the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac in obedience to God’s commandment. As Tozer tells it, Isaac was the idol of the aged patriarch’s heart. He was the son of a miracle, representing God’s covenant; Abraham’s personal hope of salvation, the promise of the Messiah; and much else besides. Tozer says, “As he watched him grow from babyhood to young manhood the heart of the old man was knit closer and closer with the life of his son, till at last the relationship bordered upon the perilous. It was then that God stepped in to save both father and son from the consequences of an uncleansed love.”1
God told Abraham to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah. What agony the command must have been for Abraham. It was an agony of understanding: How could God require him to sacrifice the one through whom he had promised to send the Messiah? How could God keep his promises with Isaac dead? It was also an agony of obedience: How could Abraham go through with it? How could he kill his son?
Abraham must have struggled long and hard with the command. But he did not fail God’s test. He cut the wood, saddled the donkey, made the journey, built the altar, and raised the knife to slay Isaac. It was only at that last moment that the angel of the Lord intervened to stop the sacrifice and commend Abraham because he did not withhold even so great a possession as his son when God demanded that of him.
At this point Tozer pictures Abraham standing on the mountain strong and pure and grand, a man wholly surrendered to God – a man who had given God everything and who therefore “possessed nothing.” Nothing? Yes, nothing! Yet Abraham was still rich. “Everything he had owned before was his still to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds, and goods of every sort. He had also his wife and his friends, and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his side. He had everything, but he possessed nothing.” Abraham possessed nothing because he had first been possessed by God. He was the Lord’s, and therefore everything he had sat loosely on him. Tozer calls this a “spiritual secret” which the books of theology do not teach but the wise understand.2
1 A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1948), p. 24.
2 Ibid., p. 27.
In what way are we to use our possessions?
What portion of our spending lasts for eternity?
What is the only way to experience freedom?
Further StudyStudy the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22:1-18.
PrayerFather, we ask you to bless this study about possessions to our hearts and minds. Grant that we might live in plenty or in want for Jesus Christ and use what we have to bring honor to his glorious name. Amen.