Stewardship Repentance in the Divine
Knowing How to Change What You Do with What You Have
in Troubled Economic Times
Today we move forward into larger spiritual wisdom pertaining to our possessions in this world. As fearers of God, we know we are highly accountable for what we do with what we have in this life. Our spiritual health is tied to our relationship to our possessions. And the scriptures from the Proverbs to the Parables are filled with directive wisdom about this.
But the span of wisdom pertaining to this relationship is so wide as to create “conflicts in wisdom.” Facets of wisdom appear to contradict one another and we can be confused about what wisdom applies when and how over what we do with what we have. This conflict is exacerbated in times of economic stress wherein people are without income because they are either unable to work, cannot or are prevented from finding work, and/or the work they do does not produce any adequate return to support them.
This article seeks to bring a greater reconciled wholeness to understanding these conflicted partial pieces of wisdom under these conditions and how to adapt to them by the Spirit as required.
Defining Our Terms
o Divine Economy
Let’s start with some simple definitions taken from the title of this writing. This article is about “divine economy.” Divine economy recognizes that God superintends our relationship to natural resources. He supplies in the face of demand. He knows what we need and when we need it. He gives and takes away (or allows to be taken away) as He sees fit for our eternal growth and the fulfilment of His purposes in Christ for the church. That is all divine economy is about.
“Stewardship” acknowledges that we play a part in God’s dispensings of earth’s resources, whether we earned it or it was given to us somehow. Stewardship is a “trust.” In law, a trust has three parties: a Grantor who authors the trust and provides its substance, a Trustee to whom the substance (known as the “res”) is entrusted for administration, and a Beneficiary for whose benefit the substance of the trust is to be administered by the Trustee.
In divine stewardship trust, God is the Grantor, we are the Trustees, all that we possess and “our” money is the Res of the trust, and the Beneficiary is the kingdom of God. God entrusts this world’s goods into our hands to be administered for the sole benefit of His Kingdom. This trusteeship, for which we are held liable, is the meaning of stewardship. (Note that in a trust, the Trustee is never the “owner” of anything. And in the divine economy, we own nothing as God’s stewards.)
“Repentance” understands that in course of executing our lifelong trusteeship over God’s money and belongings, our minds develop fixed limited patterns that have to be changed at times over what and when and how we do what we do with what we have. Our minds have to undergo changes respecting the conflicted exhortations that scripture presents regarding stewardship:
When do we use for the present? When do we store against the future? When do we keep for our own use? When do we risk investing? When do we give away for the use of others? On what terms do we use, store, keep, invest or give?
The more responsibility we feel toward our stewardship, the more difficult the decision making over changes in wisdom the Lord would lead us to—decisions also fought out against the power of an enemy determined to see that we fail in our stewardship.
Drilling Down into Stewardship Repentance
This matter of repentance over stewardship requires special attention. Repentance literally means “a change of mind.” That is all it means. But there are two kinds of repentance. There is repentance over sin—known or unknown, willful or unintentional. We repent for evil revealed in our lives. This is the usual way we think of repentance.
But then there is repentance over fixed limitations of mind. Fixed mental limitations act as barriers every time God reveals a new principle of wisdom to be obeyed, especially a financial one. Those barriers must be overcome. This is not repentance for evil. It is actually repentance over what is “good” to our minds, as contradictory as that might sound. We are repenting regarding an earlier financial obedience that has outlived its season.
Every time God wants to bring us to a higher or different stewardship principle or practice, we have to conquer any natural fixation that has developed out of previous instruction. We have to break out of that mindset to undertake the new financial course. A change of course requires a change of mind. We have to “break mental camp” to move again with the cloud.
The changes God orders in how we steward finances are the hardest ones to make because the power of mammon in the soul opposed to that stewardship is the deepest root of evil to be overcome. Under satanic provocation, our “codification” of God’s revealed principles—whether to storing, investing or giving—can become entrenched so as to become a stronghold of mind unable to respond to other wisdom of the Lord. Financial patterns and principles first imparted by the Spirit become engrained as unbreakable law contrary to the Spirit. This calls for an even stronger repentance under spiritual warfare.
Over the course of income-crippling circumstances then, whether they be personal or national or even international, God must lead us from hardened grace to the next fluid grace over different wisdom. We’ve had wise principles engrained in us (some from childhood), whether about “storing like the ant” or perhaps oppositely “giving to the poor.” In fact, entire national political parties and movements have been formed around opposing financial stewardship principles (“conservative” versus “liberal,” etc.)
Where these otherwise good principles become set in our hearts as stone, they must be transcended to embrace “contrary” wisdom through faith under the Spirit of life. We have to repent as the Divine Grantor directs us Trustees to do something different or entirely brand new with His Kingdom “Res” beyond what we were led to do in the past.
This is the kind of repentance we are talking about here today.
The Spectrum of Stewardship Wisdom
Now that we understand the meaning of stewardship repentance within divine economy, we are ready to draw out the larger picture over the conflicted wisdoms. Financial stewardship is expressed along a certain scriptural spectrum. In the middle are three divine wisdom pieces that require proper divine balancing against one another.
On the one side is the wisdom that tells us to store or to “conserve” what we have against the future. On the other is the wisdom that tells us to “use” what we have at the time we have it. We are not to store it or consider what the future may hold if we don’t store it. In the middle is the wisdom that tells us to “invest” what we have into enterprise that will bring a return through profit.
So we have “conservative” wisdom, “usative” wisdom (sorry, just made that word up) and “investive” wisdom (yes, made that up too.) Scripture gives easy examples of all three.
- The Wisdom of Conservation
In line of conservative wisdom, we are given the famous story of Joseph’s dream and the Proverbs of the ant:
Gen. 41:34 "Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. 35 "Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh's authority, and let them guard it. 36 "Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine."
Pr. 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, 8 Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest….30:24 Four things are small on the earth, But they are exceedingly wise: 25 The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer.
- The Wisdom of Investment
We are taught the wisdom of investing that brings a multiplied return. This is found in Ecclesiastes, in the Parable of the Talents, and most of all in the concept of sowing and reaping taught throughout the Parables of the Kingdom.
Eccl. 11:2 NIV Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
Mt. 25:14 "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 "To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17 "In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18 "But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money….
Mt. 13:3 …"Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell …8 … on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 "He who has ears, let him hear."
- The Wisdom of “Usation”
Lastly we have the demonstration of “usative” wisdom. The scriptural concept of “usation” is that which tells us not to store up or ask for that which is beyond what we need for the immediate day. It is reflected in the story of the manna and in Jesus’ prayer and exhortations built around daily trust for daily needs:
Ex. 16:16 "This is what the LORD has commanded, 'Gather of [the manna] every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.' " 17 The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. 19 Moses said to them, "Let no man leave any of it until morning." 20 But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. 21 They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.
Mt. 6:9 "Pray, then, in this way: …. 11 'Give us this day our daily bread…. 25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not … gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? …28 … Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, … 30 "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!... 34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The wisdom of daily usation is the prevailing wisdom behind Christ’s numerous exhortations to leave / give away all one has to come follow him.
Our simple stewardship spectrum so far now then looks like this:
Conservation >> vs. << Investment >> vs. << Usation
- The Extremes: Hoarding and Squandering
On either side of the spectral balancing center between conservation, investment and usation are the extremes of hoarding and squandering. Conservatism overplays itself into hoarding. And usation overplays into squandering and waste. Both extremes violate their central counterparts and are condemned in scripture.
First, we see the Lord’s warnings against hoarding:
Mt. 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Lk. 12:15 Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." 16 And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' 21 "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
And then we see His equal warnings against profligacy:
Lk. 15:11 And He said, "A man had two sons. 12 "The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. 13 "And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 "Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 "So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 "And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
Lk. 12:42 And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? … 45 "… if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, … and to eat and drink and get drunk; 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
When we add these extremes to our stewardship spectrum, it now looks like this:
Hoarding << Conservation >> vs. << Investment >> vs. << Usation >>Profligacy
- The Giving Factor
But there is one last critical wisdom facet to be factored into this spectrum. It is the wisdom of giving. Giving is a highly promoted stewardship virtue throughout scripture, and was particularly large in Jesus’ mind. The Old Testament provided for giving through tithing, as well as through leaving behind remnants of crops from which the poor might glean:
Dt. 14:28 "At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. 29 "The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do…. 26:12 "When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.”
Dt. 24:19 "When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 "When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow. 21 "When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.
With Jesus, the exhortation to give was not related to tithing, nor is tithing exhorted in the New Testament after Jesus fulfilled the Mosaic law of tithing on the cross. Nevertheless, the exhortation to give within the divine economy is very strong.
Jesus subdivides giving into two kinds. One is charitable giving to the poor that expects no return. The other is ministerial giving that does expect a return by way of covenant. These two sub-wisdoms are exemplified here:
o Unqualified Charitable Giving
Lk. 6:30 "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. … 34 "If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 "But … lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High;
Mt. 19:21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
o Qualified Ministerial Giving
Lk. 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure -pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
Mt. 10:8 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. 9 "Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. 11 "And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12 "As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 "If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 "Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
§ Drilling Down into Qualified Ministerial Giving
It is necessary to draw out this facet of stewardship wisdom just a bit because it is not understood at all. Contrary to near universal popular misconception, Jesus expected a return of natural provision on His and His disciples’ investment of spiritual ministry into the lives of the populace. The terms of that provision are spelled out in this passage. The statement “freely you received, freely give” is not an unconditional stand alone maxim telling the disciples to give away their miracles on no terms (as I have always thought). This idea is refuted by the rest of the passage.
Here was the deal. The disciples were not to charge “per miracle per person” like a commercial business. That is the meaning of “freely give.” But they were to expect natural underwriting support and remuneration for their ministry in a covenantal context of a believing town patron with whom they would abide for whatever agreed period of time. This began by inquiry into who were people of “worthiness” in that locality.
The word “worthy” is critical to this understanding. The worthiness of the patron is tied to the worthiness for hire of the disciples. Worthiness specifically refers to those who valued the worth of the disciples’ ministry enough to underwrite their support while the disciples ministered otherwise freely to all in that locality.
So the worthiness of the patron was in his valuation of the worthiness of the disciples of provisional support. The disciples valued the people and the people were expected to value the disciples. It was on this basis of mutually appreciated worth that Jesus expected His disciples to “lack nothing” during their ministry tour and sent them out with no money. He expected the people to value them enough to support them. This valuation was also the meaning of “to receive” the disciples. “Receiving” the disciples was not just unto wanting their ministry, but to provide for them by receiving them into their homes.
The disciples were to find a believing underwriter, make agreement with that one patron for support during their local stay; and they were not to “shop around” for a better patron who could provide them the “best offer.” (In Luke’s version, Jesus said, “Go not from house to house.”) The invitational conversation would imaginatively go something like this:
“Hello, Town. We are here on behalf of Jesus of Nazareth whom all Israel has heard of and wants to see, and we are here to bring the blessing of God’s Kingdom to you. In order to bring this blessing to your town, we require someone’s financial support for the duration of our stay. Is there anyone here who values what we are offering that would receive us by undertaking our support? We do not sell our power. It is ministered freely to all. But we require worthy support during our sojourn here.”
And so an agreement would come forth with someone. Later, if for whatever reason the patron then proved “unworthy” by failing to fulfil his support commitment to the disciples or by prematurely evicting them over some offense, they were to withdraw their peace from that house because of the broken trust. And if they could not discover any worthy patron at all in that locality who was willing to support (“receive”) them, they were to exit that city with a curse.
Jesus expected His laborers to be valued and compensated for the otherwise incalculable value of their miracle ministry. This is the meaning of qualified ministerial giving. (And it is why First Love Ministry provides a portal for readers of means who receive blessing through this revelational teaching ministry to share in the burden of financially supporting us.)
So now we have another wisdom facet to account for on our stewardship spectrum. We will place giving on the spectrum next to the facet of daily usation:
Hoarding << Conservation >> vs. << Investment >> vs.<< Usation>>vs.<< Giving (qualified vs. unqualified) >> Profligacy
The Conflicts of Stewardship Wisdom and Spiritual War
The spectrum is getting cluttered now, isn’t it! It is starting to get complicated!
Look at all those wisdom elements in the middle: conservation, investment, usation, qualified and unqualified giving. Look especially at all the “vs.” points between them. These are the competing points of conflict between the divine stewardship wisdoms.
The conflict against the extremes is not so confusing. We all know we should not hoard money or possessions, nor should we squander them at any time. We know to avoid these evils as best we can. It is just so obvious.
But the real conflict is in the middle of the spectrum. It is the conflict between knowing under pressure how and when to rightly steward God’s remaining provision by conserving, investing, using (spending) or giving. We have examples and exhortations toward all these in the Bible, but we can’t possibly live by all at the same time in any matter, nor by any single one as “the rule” for defining our stewardship.
The conflict between the wisdoms forces us into always asking these questions:
· Should I store up and save what I have in this situation for a later use, or should I invest it in something I believe will bring in a return, or should I just spend it today, trusting God for tomorrow’s needs?
· If I don’t hold onto conserving it for tomorrow, and I don’t invest it in hope of some return, should I use today what I have on my family and personal needs, or am I supposed to give away what I have to others?
· If I give this away to others, should I be expecting a return back on it in some way as a qualified ministry investment, or should I not expect any return on it whatsoever, and just blindly trust God for what I need next?
There is a lot of tension embedded into these questions! As we wrestle with them, we are dealing with issues of
1) spiritual hearing of the Lord,
2) repentance out of earlier revealed principles / practices now fixated in our mind, and
3) spiritual accusation and guilt leveled against our hearing and outgrowing of prior principles.
The enemy hates our stewardship and is keenly intent on making it impossible for us to rightly steward our resources along this spectrum. He does all he can to get us into the end zones of the extremes. He wants to provoke our intents to conserve and invest into hoarding. He wants to lure our intents at giving or spending into profligacy.
If he can’t provoke us into the extremes, he wants then to sow as much heart discord into our discernment of the right wisdom as he can. He wants to set the wisdoms against each other in our heart, and accuse our hearts over whichever ones we don’t see to employ:
· If we think we should conserve, he whispers, “No you greedy thing, God said to ‘not store up where thieves can break in and steal!’”
· If we think we should invest, he whispers, “No you fool, it’s too risky. Remember that Joseph conserved!”
· If we think we should just spend it all today and trust God for tomorrow, he says, “No you spendthrift, you are supposed to give it to ministry so you will have treasure in heaven! Remember the rich young ruler?”
· If we think we should require a worthy return on ministry impartation to others, he says, “No, you gospel merchandizer! You are supposed to give away all expecting and asking nothing in return! God hates merchandizing the gospel. And if you don’t give it all away, you will go to hell.” (People, this was actually preached at a “John the Baptist Conference” I attended in 2005!)
The enemy sows this accusation and guilt directly into our minds, as well as through people looking in on our situation from the outside who have no clear word from the Lord about the wisdom He would require of us. Believers everywhere have their pet fixations of mind when it comes to the competing stewardship wisdoms. And if you ask them for their advice, they will more often than not tell you either to conserve, invest, use or give based in their present fixation with one of these wisdoms.
Showdown at Zarephath
I Ki. 17: 8 Then the word of the LORD came to [Elijah], saying, 9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."10 So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, "Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink." 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand." 12 But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die." 13 Then Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. 14 "For thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.' " 15 So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah.
When economic times are relatively prosperous, the questions over these various stewardship wisdoms is not so intense. There may be some confusion occasionally over which one applies in a certain situation. But usually, we can just pray through it easily enough to get God’s mind without too terrible an internal conflict. (As long as the income is there, that is what really matters, right?)
The strength of this conflict takes its great force rather during times of severe economic chaos involving loss of work, deprivation or famine. It is when we have so little left to work with and must choose between buying food or paying our winter utility bill that our faith over these competing wisdoms is most tested! It is when you are in the wilderness with 5,000 people and no food for three days that it is most tested. It is when you are leading 2,000,000 people in a desert with no more food and water that it is most tested. It is when a starving besieged city is forced to start boiling children for supper that it is most tested. It is when all that stands now between us and economic death is God Himself.
The story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath really speaks out so loudly in this regard. This woman was in a severely conflicted situation regarding stewardship of her last remaining morsels of food. There was nothing left to invest. Down to her last meal, she was in an extreme place trapped between conservation and usation.
For weeks or months, if not years, she had come to a point of having to conservatively measure out whatever she had left to make it last as long as she possibly could. It was the only wisdom she could embrace. She was not at a place where she could trust God in the wisdom of usation—to believe in Mt. 6:33 style how God might provide the next day if today she just spent what she had left on herself and her son. Meanwhile, had there at any time previous been ability to invest anywhere, or else give to others in any kind of need, it was now utterly out of the question. Neither of those wisdoms could be entertained.
Before proceeding further, we should note that this is exactly the situation for untold multitudes of believers throughout the world at this very hour (including even in parts of America, Canada and other western countries) who have extremely little, where people are on their last rations of anything to eat, or a way to keep warm. Like the widow in the story, they are at the end of their wisdom of conservation, forced into final usation of what they have left, and have nowhere further to look tomorrow.They are on “their last meal.”
Well, what happens in this story? All of a sudden this stranger claiming to be a “man of God” shows up asking her for water and some bread. She is OK with the water, but the bread is out of the question. It’s her last meal! The wisdom of giving is not in her vocabulary. Yet, she is challenged to a repentance over her conserving stewardship of what is left.
For this woman, the only right thing to do is to use this final conserved supply on their own need. But the Lord has “commanded” a different thing. He has called her to give first now to one calling himself a man of God, on the blind faith of this unknown prophet’s word that if she does so, she will receive a miraculous supply. She must repent.
And in the moment of terminal crisis, her repentant faith makes the break with the mental fixation on conservation, transcending into the grace of qualified ministerial giving, where in return for her gift to the man of God, she will receive an unending supply of her final possession!
This is what the crisis of stewardship repentance and its salvation looks like in its extreme!
Resolving Conflicts in Wisdom Through Death to Stewardship
The end lesson regarding conflicted stewardship wisdom under economic threat, duress and coercion is that it is not finally about the “right wisdom” in our situation. It is rather that we come to death over our stewardship so we may be transformed to a higher stewardship trust than we have ever known.
Like everything else in the faith, stewardship is subject to death in order to bring forth a greater life. Jesus said, “To him that has shall the more be given” and “he that is faithful in little will be made ruler over much.” Unspoken in those maxims is that the lesser may often first be stripped and taken away before the more is given! Every stewardship branch that bears fruit is pruned that it may bring forth more fruit.
This is how it was with Joseph. He had a stewardship under his father, Jacob. He had a greater stewardship under Pharaoh. But between the two he had to be stripped of his coat of many colors and imprisoned as a slave before his greater stewardship could be awarded.
The lost coat of many colors answers to our rainbow of financial wisdom pieces. Each of the pieces on the stewardship spectrum—conserving, investing, using, giving—answers to a color of the light spectrum. In the course of our stewardship, the Father may lead us through instruction in all the facets of financial wisdom. But before awarding us our greatest stewardship, He may and likely will have to take all of it away. He brings us to a place where no matter which facet of wisdom we apply, nothing works. And that is why.
In the end of it, under complete economic pressure and losing it all, we find it is no longer about whether I am or was supposed to conserve for tomorrow, invest for the future, spend for today or give into the unknown. Nothing availed. It is only about whether we can hear the voice of the Son of God from the midst of the seven candlesticks.
There were seven candlesticks before John on Patmos, each bearing its light. But the Son of God in their midst was brighter than all. And it was He who absorbed John’s ultimate attention.
So it must be with the candlesticks of financial wisdom laid before us throughout scripture. We must yield our attraction or fixation to any one of them to see and hear only the Son of God in the midst of all of them. It’s not about selecting the right financial wisdom piece that will save the situation. It is about Him as the “All in All.” It is not about our Trusteeship. It is about the Grantor Himself.
As Trustees of God’s powers and provisions, we have to be proven and tested for our status and capacity as worthy trustees. We have to be “probated.” In that probation, we will be deprived to the point of giving up the ghost over our ability to wisely steward the Lord’s wealth and make the right financial decision in every situation. When times are tough, when there is no more money or provision or whatever, when mammon is screaming at us to serve it, and the devil is heaping guilt on guilt over financial failures in faith, this is the ultimate Wisdom we are called to, even “Christ, the Wisdom of God.” (I Cor. 1:24)
Only through recapitulating back into the Son will we find our resolution between the hyper-conflicted financial candles we face under satanic threat in times of economic distress.
I have lived a long time now. I have watched the church struggle and debate these wisdoms under pressure. I’ve seen religious hoarding, squandering, merchandizing and huckstering. I have heard about tithing, giving, investing and conserving against the day of calamity. I have watched the prophetic internet bombs lobbed against this church or that ministry for how it (mis)handled money. I have seen prosperous ministries who thought they had all the right financial wisdoms in place yet cave under duress. Nothing they believed or taught financially saved their day.
And I have seen the lack in my own appreciation of the breadth of all the facets of divine stewardship. In the beginnings of this ministry I was a strong champion of unqualified giving as the one means God intends to use to establish and prosper the economy of the church in the final end times. This was largely in response to the enslavement of the church to the earthly law of human work and debt for service rendered. There is still much truth in that general assessment, and I am still a major advocate of giving.
Yet in the years of personal testings since, I have come to see the limitations of that single tenet of stewardship wisdom as “the” central wisdom God will employ in the church’s tribulation economy. No. the central wisdom in the church’s economy of that time will be “Christ, the wisdom of God,” not that one candlestick.
Why This Lesson Is Necessary
Since 2008, the world economy has not been the same. Pressures have increased to rival times of the Depression Era of the early 20th century, though no one dares speak the “D” word. Churches, ministries and Christian households have come under stress that they were never accustomed to in prior “good times.” The times since have made a mockery of highly popular pseudo-wisdoms and culture prophecies of prosperity selectively crafted out of the scriptures—even though they are still touted anyway.
It has been lately prophesied now that the terrible economic years since 2008 served to bring forth 7 years of testing so that the faithful who passed the test may now enter into God’s “jubilee” of prosperous purposes.
Like Jeremiah, I can say, “Amen. May the LORD do so; may the LORD confirm your words which you have prophesied.” (28:6) And maybe there will be a turning for the “some” of “Gideon’s Band” if not for the many who think they are entitled to the blessing just because they were in earshot of the prophecy.
Whether or not however there is some lifting of the pressures in this time or the near term, it is certain that the church at large has only seen the beginning of end time financial pressure. The global corporate commercial machine that has overtaken all the governments of the world like a gangrene (the “beast”) is quite alive and well and has not yet shown the world the utmost of its prophesied tyranny under the mark. And the Babylonian church worldwide is going to be economically squeezed to a point of death that it has never experienced before.
It is for when that time comes, when none of the scriptural financial wisdom facets avail any more—when there is nothing left to conserve, much less to tithe, invest or give away—and it is down to either keeping the whole last meal or gambling to split it with the unknown prophet—that this word will provide an anchor that saves souls.
Meanwhile, may this word encourage the faithful whose past stewardship has indeed been pruned away, their fortunes reduced to below zero, yet whose jubilee God knows is truly at hand!
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
BACK TO TOP