How to Deal with Abundance
Have you learned the secret of being content?
In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul writes to a faithful church that has just taken up an offering to help provide for his needs while he waits in prison for his trial in Rome.
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content,” he writes. “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
It’s clear that in Paul’s mind and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the issue of contentment is not primarily tied to how much you have or don’t have. Paul says he had to learn the secret of dealing with having plenty and of experiencing abundance.
So if God, by His providence gives us abundance as He gave to Job, David, Solomon and others, then we need to take great care to use our abundance wisely as we guard our hearts from covetousness.
Here is some of what the Bible says about how we ought to deal with abundance:
- Don’t love riches. Psalm 62:10 says if riches increase, don’t set your heart on them. And don’t put your trust in what you have. Some trust in chariots and some in horses. We trust in the name of the Lord our God. God alone deserves our love and our trust. Don’t give to riches what God alone deserves.
- Don’t glory in your riches. If you have abundance, don’t become puffed up and think that you’re something special simply because God has blessed you with abundance.
- Be careful that you don’t despise or oppress the poor. James 2 offers a stinging rebuke of the rich man who dishonors or oppresses the poor man.
- Be rich in good works. Be generous and ready to share. Hoarding does not lead to contentment, but in caring for the needs of others there is great joy.
- Be ready to let go of what you have. What was Job’s response when all was taken from him? He arose, tore his robe, shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
- Reflect often on the day when you will give account. Remember the parable of the talents. You are a steward of all you have, and you will one day answer to the owner.
I recently read a tweet from Pastor Mark Driscoll that reminded me how to think biblically about our resources. He said “Instead of asking ‘how much of my money should I give to God,’ we need to ask ‘how much of God’s money should we keep for ourselves?’”
John Piper says “The fight of faith is the fight to keep your heart contented in Christ—to really believe, and keep on believing, that he will meet every need and satisfy every longing.”
In the end, that’s the cure for a covetous heart.
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