Much of the Christian culture on prosperity is focused on people giving, with no other Biblical truth presented. Giving is an important part, but not the whole truth, and presenting only 1 element is off balance.
Teaching like that leads people to inadvertently sin the sin of presumption. By definition in this context: Presumption is thinking something is God's responsibility when in fact it is our responsibility.
The sneaky part of presumption is that often the heart is right towards God, and it feels so spiritual, but actually is great error. And because it is error, no results are seen and confusion results.
Examples: Presumption includes writing a check knowing there is no money to cover it, but believing God will have the money to you by the time the check hits the bank. Presumption is taking your rent money and giving it to the preacher when you know you have to pay rent in x days, thinking God will give it back plus more because you gave to Him. Presumption is entering into business without doing your homework on what it takes to make a profit, spiritualizing it all that because your heart is right and you are doing it for God, thinking He will cover the rest.
Presumption is running a restaurant and after the lunch hour is over keeping waitresses and cooks on the clock because many of them need that extra money, but then wondering why God hasn't blessed the business to turn a profit, and praying for increase instead of doing the hard thing of keeping payroll costs in line by telling them to go home after the lunch hour rush.
Presumption is the karate business that was failing I mentioned a couple weeks ago that catered only to kids. She was praying for increase and wondering why God wasn't blessing, when a whole market to teenagers, adults, senior citizens and such was open to her - but she wanted God to bless just what she was doing and refused to grow as a person and business person because it was W O R K and effort.
Presumption is failure to be honest with your own heart, failing to make a distinction between need and desire, and using a charge card on those desires while lying to yourself they are 'needs', then wondering why God isn't blessing you to be able to make the payment. Need means can't function without. Desire means it may or may not be something you can afford to buy right now.
Presumption is doing something in God's name or for Him or in 'faith' or 'ministry' and thinking because of that He will bless it and make up for the difference, or supply the extra business, etc. The popular prosperity culture demotes the God of the universe to become a lowly business partner who's job it is to cover our stupid mistakes and sloppy business practices - that's presumption and arrogance.
The only 3 things you can do with money
In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus taught a wealth of information about money and more importantly, He prefaced it by saying "The kingdom of heaven is like...", meaning this is how heaven looks at the subject.
Though there are many spiritual truths in this parable, let's narrow our study to just the lesson on money. Three men were given various amounts of goods and money with the idea that they would increase what was given them over time. Besides the 'goods' (possessions) given them they were given money 'according to their individual ability' v15 says.
One man received 5 units of the money of the day, another 2 units, and the third, 1 unit. Remember, Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like this - He is the man dividing the money and goods to the men.
He gave them money based on their ability, and then expected them to make more money proportional to what they'd been given. He didn't make them able, the men made themselves able to handle the various amounts of goods and money they were given - that wasn't the Master's responsibility, it was theirs.
Two lessons learned
(1) It was up to them to change their ability to function in the business world. If you don't like your skills and knowledge now, then change it - study, learn, grow, get experience to be able to handle more. The Lord isn't unwise; if you can't handle money now, and from God's perspective that means personal life, work, and giving, He isn't going to have you win the lottery which would overload your ability - He promises not to allow more than what you can handle - and that includes the amount of blessing in your life, so if you want to handle more, change your ability, as well as grow in discipline and giving and general money smarts. Your responsibility, not His.
(2) It was their responsibility to do business in the best way they knew. Ditto above
It's Joshua 1:8 in New Testament wording: If you walk with the Lord 'you will make your way prosperous' - He is with you, you know what to do, now make your way in business - it's up to you, not Him.
We live in New Testament times: Christ lives in us, He is not far off in heaven that we are hoping we can get an open heaven (heresy doctrine by the way) or we can go to the 3rd heaven (ditto) to get the answers we need - Christ lives in us - so it is up to us and Him inside us to make our way together!
The first two men traded or in modern language, bought and sold with the money and goods they'd been given. This is the 1st of 3 things you can do with money.
When the Master returned and talked to the 3rd man, He found he had buried the money in the ground, but said he should have at least put it in the bank to gain interest. These are the other 2 things you can do with money: Bury it or gain interest.
The 3rd man said he was afraid, and this is a big factor concerning Christians not being money smart - fear. He blamed it on not wanting to be accountable to the Master, but the Master said instead of being afraid, he could have at least stuck the money in the bank, which was a way of escape for the man who was in fear - at least do something on your own, some initiative to at least put it in the bank would have gained approval.
Burying money in our day would be doing things that don't increase that money, or even decrease it because of inflation. So paying rent rather than a mortgage is something causing money to flow away from you in this way. Stuffing money under a mattress or in a low interest account where you actually lose money are other examples. Buying/selling includes everything from yard sales to business to stocks and bonds - buy low and sell high is what 2 of the 3 men did with their seed money and goods, and were commended for it.
Whether you buy/sell, gain interest, or bury your money, it is up to you, not God. I am not denying His leading in these matters at all, just spending time on this side of the teaching in order to bring balance to the error that its all up to God - the Bible teaches otherwise as you can see. Yes He provides 'water' or revelation and wisdom that will be poured out upon us for our 'crops', but we have to tend the crops, not Him - His job is the 'water', ours is the 'crops'.
When I pray for an answer or direction to something in my life, and I hear nothing, I know it is up to me to make my way, or in other words, it's my responsibility and the answer is within my hands. When heaven is silent, its up to me, and I can go in confidence that He will lead, open and shut doors, and prosper my way.
People linger for years wanting to hear from God on whether they should go to school or change their ability in life, and if so, which course to take, or which area of study. They linger for years waiting for a word on should they buy a house or rent. They pray for jobs in their area and go for years underemployed instead of moving to where jobs are, and wonder why God isn't providing for them.
Not realizing it is their responsibility, they look at circumstances and say 'there is no way' and so back off. They don't realize heaven goes by 'according to your faith be it unto you', so they end up with nothing. I've shared in this space how 2 years ago, when we needed to buy a house closer to our handicapped son's group home and the mortgage industry was shut down due to the melt-down, and we had no money to buy a home, we bought one.
It was because it was a need, and Barb and I determined at our age we needed to build equity rather than paying rent, and we needed to be within 30 minutes of our son, and once determined in the natural we prayed. I felt led to a particular area, drove right to a house for sale by owner that was perfect, even having a wheelchair ramp at the door which would be needed for our son. The owner was a retiring Baptist pastor who wanted their home to go to someone in ministry, the bank that held the mortgage was owned by a deacon in his church, the pastor said I want to do thus and so, the banker agreed, and that was that.
In the natural there was no way. But we had a need, and it was up to us to start in that direction, it wasn't up to God. Money is here on the earth and changing our ability to deal with it is our responsibility - the only thing we need do is explore options and be sensitive to His direction once we start. He can't steer a parked car any more than you or I can. Change your ability if you are a 1 unit person and want to be a 2 or 5 unit ability person.
You may remember the story I've shared before of the real estate broker in our church many years ago, who showed a house listed for $107,000 only 3 weeks before his contract for listing that house ended. A week after the contract expired the sellers called the people who had looked at the house while it was under contract, and told them they'd knock the 7% realtor commission off the price, dropping it to $99,000 if they were still interested - they were, and they sold the house to them for $99,000.
The broker came to me because his wife was furious and wanted him to go after the sellers for his commission, as the contract states in such cases he would still be owed his commission. He wanted to do the Christian thing as he understood it, and was inclined to let it go. I told him that based on scripture, the Christian thing was to be a man of his word and go after the sellers for money that was rightfully his.
He and they had signed the contract in good faith, and now they had violated it. It wasn't a matter of 'being Christian', it was a matter of judgement (rightness), and even if the sellers didn't like him after he pressed it, they would at least know he was fair and right in his business dealings - and that is the Christian way of doing business. As it turned out, a letter from his lawyer was all it took for them to pay him his money.
Back to giving and receiving; a summary of the last 4 weeks
So now we have a fuller picture of God's part, pouring out the 'water' of revelation; we know that we are to give to one another's basic needs in life as part of tithing and giving to the New Testament storehouse/temples, we know that diverse steams of income is God's way of blessing over and above our basic needs, and we've seen our responsibility concerning money and our ability to handle it. All this is chapter and verse, but how many have never been taught it? How many Christians are living miracle to miracle, trying to give their way out of consequences of bad decisions rather than developing a disciplined and God inspired plan?
That leads to what our responsibility is about giving, for if it is up to us to change our ability concerning money and business, if it is up to us to use discipline and wisdom concerning money, is it up to us to determine how and to whom we shall give and determine giving as part of our lifestyle?
And that's next week - what the New Testament really says about giving.
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