Do I Have Too Much?
I took a serious look around myself this morning.
In my study, I have a beautiful oak desk, hutch and swivel chair. On the desk sits a fully-featured, powerful laptop with a router-driven connection to the Internet and the outside world, a speaker phone and Plantronics headset, an LED lamp, and a wirelessly operated, multi-function printer-scanner-fax-copier, and on its shelves I have my Bibles, Biblical commentaries and other theological works. I have a oak credenza filled with cookbooks (cooking is one of my hobbies), more Bibles, additional theological works and multiple technology books (Information Technology is my profession). I have a cable-driven digital TV on a stand to my left, and behind me I have a steel-and-oak conference table equipped with a swivel digital work lamp upon which I work at another one of my hobbies, stained glass. In the closet in my study is a complete set of stained glass work tools. It is a cold early morning in November, but I do not feel the bite of the outside air, only the soft hum of the furnace in the basement as it provides a welcome warmth.
I have barely scratched the surface of what I have, but I am certain that, were it all to be specifically tallied, I would find it overwhelming.
Does God provide? YES… He does.
God has the richest history of providing for His people, and before I get to the point of this commentary, I want to illustrate from Holy Scripture examples of His provision, which is demonstrated from God’s remembrance, and not only our remembrance, but our forgetfulness as well (italic emphases mine):
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. (Deuteronomy 5:15)
You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. (Deuteronomy 7:17-19)
But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. (Deuteronomy 15:15)
“Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land.’ (Joshua 1:13)
Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain – the nations I conquered – between the Jordan and the Great Sea in the west. (Joshua 23:4)
No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. (Judges 8:33-34)
Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, (1 Chronicles 16:12)
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. (Psalm 77:11-12)
They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. (Psalm 78:35)
They did not remember his power – the day he redeemed them from the oppressor, the day he displayed his miraculous signs in Egypt, his wonders in the region of Zoan. (Psalm 78:42-43)
Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, (Psalm 105:5)
For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham. He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for – that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws. (Psalm 105:42-45)
When our fathers were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. (Psalm 106:7-8)
Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. (Psalm 111:2-6)
The Lord remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those who fear the Lord – small and great alike. (Psalm 115:12-13)
When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)
If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8:19-20)
The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God. But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish. (Psalm 9:17-18)
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)
Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. (Psalm 144:12-14)
You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. (Psalm 65:9-11)
You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor. (Psalm 68:9-10)
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever – holy and awesome is his name. (Psalm 111:5-9)
” ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. (Ezekiel 34:25-29)
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:14-17)
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. (1 Timothy 6:17)
It is clear from Holy Scripture that God does provide for us. He always remembers… but we always forget. We are faithless… but He is always faithful:
if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)
Someone will ask ‘You speak of all you have. What about those who do not have anything at all? Why isn’t God’s provision given abundantly to everyone? Are you saying that God favors some people more than others?’
God does not favor one person over another. ALL people are God’s children, for He has created them:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16)
While all people are equal in terms of their preciousness to God who has created them in His image, it does not necessarily follow that all people are given a wealth of abundance by Him. What we “possess” is, first of all, God’s possession, not ours, and it is temporary at best, for give it up we shall when we are summoned from this world by God. It follows from the perspective that all is God’s to begin with that He apportions what we have from His abundance as He sees fit. We do have a very small part in providing what we have…
God said to Adam after the Fall:
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. (Genesis 3:17-18)
The Apostle Paul stated:
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
Understand that what we “possess” is by the grace and provision of God. The Apostle Paul spoke to a misunderstanding that has plagued humanity since its very beginning, with regard to wealth in this world coming as a result of godliness… which is a heresy (italic emphasis mine):
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
Therefore the Apostle Paul went on the say this (italic emphases mine):
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
Godliness in no way assures you of abundant wealth!
No less a one than the Son of God, Jesus Christ, confirms the provision that God makes for His people (italic emphasis mine):
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)
In the greatest prayer, what is it that we are to ask God for?
-To hallow His Name.
-To ask for the coming of His Kingdom.
-For His will to be done.
-For daily bread.
-For His forgiveness.
-To forgive others.
-To be protected from temptation.
-To be delivered from evil.
These are the provisions of God for His people. However, Jesus goes beyond even these multiple blessings (italic emphasis mine):
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
If there is any differentiation in what one person “possesses” more than another person, I believe the above passage speaks as to why. Note that the difference is centered squarely on our surrendering our own selfish will and desires and seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness before all else. Are we asking for what God wants, or are we asking for what we want because we think we know better than God?
God has promised to give us what we need, not what we want.
Add to this that God is generous beyond any possible expectation that we could have. The key to God’s provision for us is in our having a righteous emphasis on seeking His face and in our asking for what is in line with His will and with His desires, rather than our having an evil emphasis on our will and our desires (italic emphases mine):
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
Recently, while I was on vacation, I was returning from a long day of sight-seeing, and the tour guide on the bus wrapped up his comments by asking that we all remain mindful of the good days that we have had the blessings from God to enjoy… and then he said this, which was a very great blessing for me (and I pray for all of the others who were with me):
“I try to remember that if I have too much, I forget about Him.”
I wept in my heart, and I thought how true it is that we take God, and all of His provisions, for granted! We are so quick to forget Who He is, and What He is, and what He has given us not only for our daily lives, but for the salvation of our eternal souls… even His Only Son Jesus Christ. God has given us everything… and most all of the time, we have responded by giving Him nothing; indeed, we have in this day and age completely dismissed Him from our schools, from our churches, from our government, from our workplaces, from our homes and from our lives.
This is a wonderful petition to the God and Father of all (italic emphasis mine):
“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9)
At the top of this post, I said that I took a serious look around myself this morning. I pray that you will do the same and, when you do, that you will find God in all that He has given to you. I can think of no better way to end this post than to praise God through one of the most beautiful and uplifting of the Psalms:
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, O my soul. (Psalm 103:17-22)