Traveling LightMark 6:7-11Theme: Stewardship.This week’s lessons teach us how to honor God with the gifts he has given us.
LessonBecause the things we possess are given to us by God, it follows that we are accountable to him for how we use them. This is what the parable of the talents is about. God distributes his gifts unequally – one servant has five talents, another two, a third one – but each is nevertheless equally responsible for the proper use of what he has been given. The man who is judged by Christ is judged, not because he had one talent rather than two or five, but because he did not properly use that one talent he had. So will we be, if we fail to use God’s gifts properly.
So I come back to my original question and ask again: What should a disciple’s attitude toward his possessions be? I suggest the following principles:
1 Timothy 4:4 says, “Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” A Christian perspective starts at this point.
God desires to give. In fact, God desires to give lavishly; he has given lavishly; there is a sense in which he will continue to give lavishly throughout eternity. It is true that at times God also takes away, but that is for the same reason that he more frequently gives, namely, because he loves us. If something is standing in the way of our spiritual growth or usefulness, God will remove it. That aside, God’s main relationship to us is that of an abundant giver to us who cannot thrive, let alone exist, without his rich benevolence. God gives life and health, sun and rain, friends and families, opportunities to learn and serve and worship–indeed, all things. So our first proper response to his gifts is thanksgiving.
The second important element in a disciple’s attitude toward his or her possessions is perspective. Although it is true that all things are given to us by God and are grounds for thanksgiving, material possessions are nevertheless not the only things God gives or even the most important things. If we fail to see this, as we often do fail to see it, that which is good in itself can become harmful.
In that classic mentioned in an earlier lesson, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs speaks of a “fourfold burden in a prosperous condition”: a burden of trouble, a burden of danger, a burden of duty, and a burden of accountability. Of these four, the burden he chiefly focuses on is danger: “Men in a prosperous position are subject to many temptations that other men are not subject to.” Therefore, “a poor man who is in a low condition, thinks, ‘I am low and others are raised, but I know not what their burden is,’ and so, if he is rightly instructed in the school of Christ, he comes to be contented.”1
1 Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (Edinburgh and Carlisle, Pa. The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979),pp. 103-104, 107. Original edition 1648.
Why are we accountable to God for how we use our gifts?
What is the point of the parable of the talents? (see Matthew 25:14-30).
What is the first principle in rightly honoring God with the things we have?
When will God take something away from us?
Further StudyRead Dr. Boice’s book, The Parables of Jesus, for a greater understanding of his teaching on possessions and discipleship. Call 1-800-956-2644 or click here to order.
ReflectionWhat is your attitude toward your possessions? Do you own them or do they own you? Depending on how you use God’s Word Today, either ponder or discuss how you would react if you lost your home, your job, or your health. What would bitterness indicate? What would a godly response look like?
Scripture MemoryMemorize 1 Timothy 4:4.