The news is
filled with outrage about bonuses paid to employees of the government-bailed
-out insurance giant AIG. Every day we hear cries of unfairness, greed and
shock. Even the President has said that he is stunned by these bonuses. We seem
to be caught in an unending series of outrageous events. Have you noticed the
underlying conviction that is driving the outrage? This conviction has to do
with fairness and what we deserve. We don’t deserve to have out of control
spending and increased taxes. We don’t deserve to have business executives who
are greedy. We don’t deserve to have government leaders who are incompetent. We
don’t deserve to have a bad economy and its resulting complications. And the
list goes on and on.
How should Christians
respond to all of this? We can certainly agree that things are economically
challenging. We can agree that political leadership has been less than
exemplary. We can agree that the housing markets have fallen. But do we really
agree that all of this is not fair and that we deserve better? The solutions
offered all appear to lie in the arena of government doing more or less. Some
political persuasions want the government to be more involved. Others want the
government to be less involved. But all seem to agree that things are not fair
– we don't deserve this.
The economic problems that
we face are the result of a people who functionally believe that God is not
necessary anymore. Listen to the words of our political and business leaders. I
have yet to hear any government leader or political pundit call for a national
day of prayer and repentance as an appropriate response to the difficulties we
now face. Repentance? What does repentance have to do with any of this?
When people think first of
financial security and what they deserve, they automatically lose sight of God.
If that seems too strong a statement, consider what Christ says about the rich
fool in Luke 12:16-21
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a
certain rich man produced a good crop.He thought to himself, 'What shall I do?
I have no place to store my crops.'
"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will
tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain
and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid
up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very
night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have
prepared for yourself?'
"This is how it will be with anyone who stores
up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Notice carefully the
thinking of the rich fool. He believes that his hard work has produced a rich
harvest—one that will produce a life of ease for years to come. It is what he deserves.
Perhaps he even plans to share some of his wealth with family and friends. The
life that he deserves, the good life, is now within his grasp. But how does God
God is concerned with
building riches that go beyond the material. The rich fool reasoned that he was
deserving of his good fortune. Sadly, this man's attitude is not unlike the
attitude of our own culture. We believe the good life is for us. It is our
right to take life easy, to eat, drink and be merry. The rich fool, like many today,
thinks of only what he deserves.
However, do we want to
join the mood of the world around us and start asking God to give us what we
deserve? I think not. That is why I mentioned repentance. Collectively, our
country has not been rich toward God. We have become preoccupied with the good
life. But when we consider the holiness of God, crying out in repentance is in
order, rather than clamoring for what we deserve. If Christians are to be salt
and light, then we must distance ourselves from the demands for fairness and
the insistence on what is due us. What we deserve is hell—but we have been the
recipients of the mercy and grace of God lavished upon us (Ephesians 1:8).
Parents, these uncertain
financial and political times provide an opportunity to show your children what
true riches are. Do you delight in being rich towards God? The world says that
responsibility is following the formula of the rich fool: work hard, get a good
return, and take life easy. God says in Luke 12 that life is about more than this.
Life is about building true riches, riches that are certain and will not take
wings and vanish. What is fair? When you consider what is really fair, what you
really deserve, you must immediately think of repentance, not gains in the
stock market. Let us rejoice in the mercy of Christ that gives to us what we do
The next post will return
to the current series about the word of God being a light to your eyes.
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