Managing for the Master–Till He Comes
Managing for the Master — Until He Comes
It is difficult for us to comprehend fully the relationship that our God, the Creator of the universe, wants to have with us human beings. (The mere idea of it is astounding!) “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1, NKJV). Or as Ellen G. White wrote: “Can any human dignity equal this? What higher position can we occupy than to be called the sons of the infinite God? … Can any worldly honor equal this?” — Ellen G. White, God’s Amazing Grace, p. 341. It’s only the darkness of this sin-laden world that causes us not to appreciate fully the status that we have been given in Jesus.
Yet, if we are not careful, the lure of the world and the things of the world will pull us away from Christ. The Word of God informs us of the temptations and allurements of Satan. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10, , NKJV).
The Lord, however, gives us guidance on how to earn money and utilize it wisely and not to let it be something that, as Paul warned, can lead to “destruction and perdition.” In the more than 2,000 verses in the Scriptures that deal with money and possessions and our attitude toward them, God gives practical instruction on how to live above the stresses of life and to manage in financially faithful ways what we have been given.
In this quarter’s lessons, we will study God’s ideal in our relationship with Him and clearly see how we can develop a trust so deep that we will remain faithful to Him, even when we can’t buy or sell. (See Revelation 13:17) But this kind of faith does not come overnight; by faithfully managing what God has given us, we can be prepared, even now, for whatever comes our way.
God is the One with the resources, and when we work with Him, He allows us to handle them for Him. It is the Savior’s purpose that human beings, purified and sanctified, shall be His helping hand. For this great privilege, let us give thanks to Him “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
God’s counsel to His children through the wise man, Solomon, is: “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9, NKJV). This counsel is appropriate because “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11, NKJV).
From a merely secular perspective, we live in very challenging and stressful times. However, our Christian worldview gives us confidence and hope as we see the signs Jesus gave to let us know that the great climax of human history, the second coming of Christ, is very near — even at the door. We pray that these practical lessons will deepen your faith and trust in God and encourage you to be a faithful manager for Him.
G. Edward Reid, M.Div. (Andrews University), MPH (Loma Linda University), JD (Georgia State University), is an ordained minister and licensed attorney who served for many years as the director of Stewardship Ministries of the North American Division.
It is easy to be cynical when you see a set of lessons turn up where the main theme is "Tithes and Offerings". In fact I was cynical enough to look back (something you can do fairly easily on this site) to see when we had the last set on the same topic. It was 1st quarter, 2018; so it looks like it is just the 5-year cycle of lessons.
I hope that this time around we get beyond the same old questions about tithing gross or net income. Do we pay a second tithe? What do we do if ...? etc, etc.
There is a bigger picture and hopefully, we will ultimately understand and appreciate it. Essentially we are in this Gospel enterprise together and with the Holy Spirit leading we can put aside those, "Where's my bit?" questions and accusations and learn that collaboration takes commitment and cooperation.
I like the idea that we are starting this series about family. If you are a part of a functional family you know that family members look after one another and care for one another. Families that lose that "care for one another" principle become dysfunctional.
Churches that forget to care for one another also become dysfunctional, and then when that happens, nobody wants to listen to us.
What a reminder. God bless.
I would like to offer a framework for approaching this quarter's lesson - a framework that equally applies to all other quarter's lessons in a way that therefore reflects continuity across quarters.
Last quarter, there was mention that the conclusion of 'The Great Controversy', the great polemos (war of truth vs lies/deception) is brought about when everyone - 'saint' and 'sinner' alike - comes to final inescapable awareness that God and His Ways are the only viable reality capable of actually fostering true life. How is it that even hardened sinners can no longer arrive at any other ultimate awareness? I would propose that the only way this can authentically happen is for there to be an inescapable, objective reality that they will no longer be able to avoid coming face-to-face with, so to speak. Consistent with this suggestion - which renders God absolutely non-arbitrary in absolutely every aspect - I find and believe that abundant/eternal life is an objective reality that we actually need to be in sufficient harmony with otherwise it just doesn't 'work'. Your need to breathe to be alive is but one small example of this wider principle. A bigger example, as testified by 'the fall' (Genesis 3:6; 6:5) is the essential need to be and live in harmony with the principle of other-seeking.
Viewing aspects of life and living from this framework means that everything - and I mean absolutely everything - that God asks or 'requires' is for no other reason than because that is the only way abundant/eternal life objectively operates and will therefore help us progressively grow and be in harmony with such. Progressively learning about the details of these aspects, to the extent that we are able, assists us to better and better understand God and His Ways. All God is trying to do is inform us of the way to life in the hope that we will free-willingly choose life over perishing (eg Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Ezekiel 18:32; 2 Peter 3:9). And as we grow in awareness of this, not only does our 'informed' love for God deepen, but also our 'informed' love for others because we are aware of the objective reality we are each and all inescapably part of.
Please note that none of what I have said above is done independently from God, but in co-operation with God (as per Philippians 2:12-13). This collaborative partnership with God is the inherent, necessary basis of life and living for all God's creation (eg Jeremiah 7:23), and as such is the most overarching and eternal 'covenant' between Creator and created (as reflected in Jeremiah 31:33).
So, for every aspect that is raised in the lessons this quarter, you might be interested in contemplating how being either in or out of harmony with that aspect might objectively either facilitate or inhibit your progressive growing in harmony with that which fosters true life - rather than that which instead fosters perishing (as per Proverbs 14:12 applied principle). Perhaps this will assist you to approach this quarter with 'fresh eyes'...
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