“Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?” ― John Wesley
There is a story in the Bible about how God provided food for the recently freed Israelites. They had only been free from Egypt for a couple of months; and yet their fear of the unknown world in front of them, and their doubt in God, began to rise to the surface. They wondered if God had freed them from Egypt only to let them die of hunger in the wilderness.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” – (Exodus 16:4-5 NIV)
God provided this bread (manna) for the Israelites every day except the Sabbath, which they were to prepare for this by collecting twice as much on the sixth day. He provided what they needed, but He also gave them instructions to follow concerning these provisions; instructions that were in opposition to what they had learned as slaves in Egypt. In Egypt they learned that the only way to survive was to take advantage of every situation and to exploit resources for personal gain. How many people have learned the same thing today? How many of us use our resources beyond what we need for the sake of personal gratification or a false sense of security?
Every day, each one of us is provided with “manna”; that is, we are provided with provisions for our life. We may do the work to collect this manna, or we may even create the means by which to collect it in excess, but the manna is always provided by God. We are blessed with ideas, with jobs, with nature, with family, and with many other things from God—but are we handling them the way He prescribes?
The Israelites were told to take only what they needed for the day and not to save any for the next. Some chose to save extra anyway, and the next day, the manna that they kept, was filled with maggots and began to smell (16:20). So it is when we don’t follow God’s instructions with the blessings that He provides us. By misusing our finances, or our power, or our ideas, we inadvertently bring decay and offense into the world. But when we use them the way God instructs us to, they become a greater blessing to us and allow us to become a blessing to others.
The very existence of the Israelites was so that they would become a blessing to all the world through the Messiah Jesus. Today, Christians are to exist for the sake of reflecting God’s love back into creation. These blessings we receive are not supposed to be used solely for personal gain, but so that we can become blessings to others. How are you practicing that?
Food for thought.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!