The Bare Soul
October 14, 2012
II Corinthians 5:1 - For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Many of us who are Baby Boomers are either retired or well on our way. Whether we are ready for the time when we will draw Social Security and pensions (if we are fortunate), it is an inevitable reality. Some of us have prepared better than others. Through various circumstances, many have not been in the position to plan properly. To increasing numbers of soon-to-be retirees, the prospect of leaving the workforce is somewhat unnerving. I speak mainly of those who have neither put their faith in God nor have any type of retirement savings. Because of this, we see a much older work force performing jobs that many youngsters used to do. Instead, oldsters are finding they cannot retire but must make ends meet by working through their 70s and sometimes into their 80s. Then, there are others such as Christians who believe a savings does not matter, that God will take care of them as long as they are doing the Lord's work. This is true in many cases, for Jesus told us if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness that our needs would surely be met (Matthew 6:33). However, I am also of the opinion that many use this as an excuse for mismanagement of the individual wealth the Lord entrusts to each of us. Wisdom is the keyword regarding our family's nest egg. We can sometimes become bad stewards and believe God will bail us out in our old age. However, the bail out may not be the reality we had hoped for.
God has not called all of us to be missionaries to the ends of the earth, giving up our possessions for the sake of the Kingdom. For these, God has promised a wealth of riches even in their seeming poverty here upon earth (Matthew 19:29). However, for the majority of us, God has told us to stay and support ministries such as these with our finances and to be lights in our own communities. Whether we stay or go, we can be a great asset for the Kingdom of God if we are obedient in what Christ gives us. If he has told some to go, many of these will say it is quite easy giving up everything---in the beginning that is. The true test of discipleship will often show itself in the first few months as the romantic notion of missionary work wears thin. That is when it becomes evident who is truly called to lay down their lives where there is no running water or air conditioning. Some at this juncture pick up their old lives at the airport and beat a hasty retreat. However, those who have planned both their earthly and heavenly estates properly understand their position of wealth. Before setting out, they correctly heard from the Lord and planned according to God's wisdom. The joy of obedience rather than the sorrow of folly becomes their ultimate heritage (Luke 14:27-33).
For the majority of us He has called to stay, we must faithfully use what He gives us to help further His Kingdom. Many of us will not have millions of dollars to give for the Lord's work. However, just as the widow's mite, He will require us to give sacrificially so that we might receive what we need in this life and the one to come. However, at this juncture we must use wisdom. God may tell someone to give away their weekly paycheck and he will provide for that family. Nevertheless, for someone to take a scripture and test God's faithfulness without hearing directly from God is the worst sort of presumption. It is not only disobedience to give when God is saying not to, but it is also robbing the family of God's providence for that week. We must be careful not to tear down the "earthly tent" of which Paul speaks in our lead verse. While this scripture speaks of our earthly flesh, I believe it also refers to the earthly covering which we create for those who are trusting in our faithfulness to provide for them upon this earth. This means we have a moral and spiritual responsibility to seek the Lord for wisdom regarding our finances for our families, our church body, and inevitably the souls we will touch through these resources. Our earthly tent must be one that is pitched where God desires and where it is of paramount effectiveness for Him and others.
Our estate planning for both here and heaven is contingent on hearing the word of the Lord for our own lives. We must not shrink from providing for those who are trusting in exactly the way the Lord is requiring us to trust. As Paul states, our bodies are not our own and our earthly tents will one day be transformed into heavenly expressions. Until that day, we must continue to allow God to marshal everything within us and provide the covering He desires to bless others through our earthly estate. Earthly retirement will never mean retirement from God using us for His Kingdom. Instead, He will use those who have wisely built their earthly domain according to His will to further His Son's desire regarding lost humanity. May we all plan accordingly, for one day this earthly tent will be transformed to the heavenly one. May we not be sorrowful that we did not plan wisely, and may our heavenly abode be an expression of lives lived for Christ upon this earth.
Heavenly Father, may we look to You for wisdom as our earthly tent decays, yet our heavenly one increases. Give us understanding to know how to invest properly while upon this earth. If You tell us to go, we will go. If You tell us to stay, show us how to bring both the spiritual and material wealth You desire into Your Kingdom. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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