Thursday, March 05, 2009

Financial Uncertainties and the Faithfulness of Christ

A couple of days ago I received a financial statement from the organization that manages my retirement account. The news is not good, in fact, it’s horrible! My account has shrunk almost in half and is barely worth the principle we originally invested a decade ago!

But I must say that, when I saw those numbers, the Lord was so gracious to me. He helped me see in an instant that my hope was never in that account to begin with, but that my hope was in him alone!

Then, yesterday, as part of my preparation for my first doctoral course at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I studied several portions of the book of Hebrews in some detail, including 13:5-6 which says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”

The Greek word for “content” here literally means “to be sufficed.” In other words, it means to be satisfied with what you have come to possess, or more literally, with what has arrived to you. And the reason the author gives for why we should be satisfied is a promise God has made. This much we can see in English but what is difficult for us to see is just how emphatic the promise is. In English we are not allowed to use double-negatives like, “I do not know nothing,” but in Greek, as with many languages, one can use double- and even triple-negatives.

So here is a very literal, word for word translation of the Greek: “For he has said [with permanent, everlasting force], ‘No not you might I leave and not no not you might I abandon.’” It doesn’t get much more emphatic than that!

The implication for our lives is that we ought to have faith in this God for he is with us, in Christ, and his steadfast love has not come to an end! Therefore, if we will put our trust in him and not in our wealth, even if everything we have is depleted, we will be satisfied! This doesn’t mean that we’ll get everything we want in the way that we want it. Jesus Christ is not the means to the end of my prosperity, rather he himself is the end and all other things are means to him. So, if it takes losing my whole retirement package to cause me to trust him more, then so be it! I would rather have him with nothing else than everything else without him.

For as David once said in the midst of great difficulty, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12).

Since, through faith in Christ, we are covered with the shield of God’s favor and faithfulness, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper! I will not fear, what can man do to me?” The force of this is best captured by the beloved apostle Paul in Romans 8:31-39:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Amen! So let us look to Christ, forsaking trust in all other things that we might know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil. 3:10).

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