Traveling LightMark 6:7-11Theme: Stewardship.This week’s lessons teach us how to honor God with the gifts he has given us.
LessonWhere should we go to get a proper perspective on riches? Negatively there is much to be said about things, but the place to begin is not with a negative but with a positive perspective: All things come from God. God is the Creator. Therefore, possessions are to be received from him with thanksgiving and are to be enjoyed fully as he intended them to be enjoyed. James wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
There is a false idea in some forms of Christianity that things somehow are evil and that the only way to live a truly spiritual life is to part with them. It may be true, of course, as in the case of the rich young man, that the only way a given individual can find salvation is by repudiating the wealth that keeps him from discipleship. But that is not because things in themselves are evil. That view was present in the ancient world but was repudiated by Christianity. That view was dualism. It said that there are two spheres of reality: the sphere of mind or spirit (which is good) and the sphere of things or matter (which is evil). By nature, people are amalgamations; they possess a mind (which relates them to God and draws them upward), and they have a body (which is evil and draws them downward). The only way to be saved is to escape from the body. In life this is done by living in the realm of the mind and denying physical pleasures.
In the Greek world dualism gave us the distinct formulations of its great philosophers. In the Christian world dualism produced monasticism.
Christianity does not teach dualism. According to the Bible, all that we see or know was created by God and in its original form – that is, before the Fall and the distortions that came from it – was pronounced utterly good by him. Our bodies are from God; they are good. Our minds are from God; they too are good. The fruit of the field is good. The fruit of our labor, seen in homes and buildings and manufactured goods and social services and writing and art, is also good. God has given us fields, hills, mountains, seas, storms, sunrises, and sunsets all richly to enjoy.
But there is this to be said. First, it is God who has given these things, and because God is sovereign in his giving, as in everything else, it follows that he may (and, in fact, does) give some more than others and that this is just. This is the Christian answer to egalitarianism, the idea that all people must be equal in riches and that, if they are not, it is the job of government or some other outside agency to redistribute them. This is not the government’s job. Government is established by God to promote and enforce justice (Rom. 13:1-5). If one individual grows rich by extorting goods from others, by fraud, or by actions that deny or destroy basic human values and rights, it is government’s job to expose the evil, punish the injustice, and demand restitution. Beyond that, government should not go. Above all, it must not take what belongs to one individual (if it is lawfully acquired) and give it to another. That is itself an injustice. There is nothing in nature or Scripture to say that all persons must possess an equal share of this world’s goods; and, in fact, it is evident that even God does not so distribute his good gifts. One servant will always have five talents, another two, a third only one.
Why should we not view possessions negatively?
How do dualists seek to be spiritual?
In the Christian world, what does dualism result in?
According to Romans 13:1-5, why has God established government?
What is egalitarianism? How does the Bible refute it?
In what manner does God distribute his gifts?
Definitiondualism: the belief that there are two spheres of reality: the sphere of mind, or spirit, and the sphere of matter.
ApplicationDr. Boice named several types of things that God gives to us. Based on his description of these gifts, make a list of all the gifts you have been given by God.