Before I begin let me state a simple truth: I hate money. Not that I hate the idea of money but more so some of the things it allows one to have: the false security it creates, and the evil it pushes man to commit. It is the idol of this age, the Zeus of our American Olympus. But I would be foolish to deny the good that can be brought by it, when in the right hands and given with good hearts.
Here, then, I think it is more important to understand God as a Redeemer, than it is to see money as inherently evil. If God can, and did, and is, redeeming the horridness of man whose every inclination is to sin against Him; then surely, turning some pieces of paper into His servants is quite feasible.
And yet it is not the money itself which seems to be the problem. Money, like every tool, must be held. It becomes an issue of the hands that hold it. Are the hands tight and cold, seeing with selfish eyes and fearful hearts? Or are the hands soft and open, made that way because open palms are the only response to pierced ones.
You see, before anything can be said of God providing, with his eternally open hands, he wants to see that his children imitate him in this way. There is much to say on the posture of a Christian: raised eyes, bended knees, and only two possible options for the hands: open in giving or folded in prayer.
Now I this I believe to be true. While it is most true that our Great God gives freely, He does not give lightly.
Remember Scripture, the great promise to Abraham was given freely out of the grace of God but it demanded of him the very seed of that promise, his son Isaac. Jesus gave of Himself freely, and was given by His Father – but never confuse freely with lightly. It cost God a great deal to give his one and only Son whom He loved, whose very nature was love.
To give freely concerns the will of the giver. In a free gift, the giver is neither coerced nor threatened in any way but is motivated by their own self to seek the benefit of the receiver above all. To give lightly deals with the cost to the giver. This is not to say that there is any limit or even measure to our Almighty Lord. Do not think cost in terms of how big, or what percentage of the assets it will take away. Think of cost in terms of preciousness and importance. Giving away a stuffed animal may cost you only a few dollars; but giving away the same object when it was a gift from a loved one who has since passed away is much more costly. It is in this attitude we should understand the heaviness with which our God gives.
It is plain to see why the gift of His Son would be so costly, because of the immeasurable preciousness of His child. But why not lightly with the promise of Abraham? After all He is simply mortal and God can write His heritage in any fashion, without even reaching the beginnings of His power. Through understanding this we may also be able to understand why the provision we seek is often free but not light.
A question should help enlighten this subject: What is provision to God? And what is provision to man?
Let’s begin with the latter. To man provision is security, peace, promise, needs being met or even wants being granted. Provision is the working of God in the life of man – and in the view of man, that provision is for his own good, and often, though at times misunderstood, a result of his good (but more truthfully a result of His good).
This next part is difficult. God does not give to us because we are behaving well, but he will bless those who follow his commandments and are faithful in the areas he has entrusted them with. There is no way to trick God into getting what you want. There is no super-holiness you must acquire before your every want can be met. That is not the provision of God. If your focus is on the it and not the Person of Christ, than while your idolatry might bring you happiness, that temporal pleasure will come at an eternal price. I do not want to get too off topic so let me say, God rewards faithfulness, but religiosity will never fill you.
To man provision is a thing to be got. To God, provision is a didactic experience to be had. God has all things under His control. If that is so, why not send some more my way? He cares too much for you to have too much. Read that last sentence again. God is not concerned about you having, He sees and knows your every need. But more than your physical needs He knows your spiritual needs and the best way in which to provide them. To us, provision is something we need to survive. To God, provision becomes an opportunity for us to thrive spiritually. The beautiful thing about God’s provision is that you don’t need any of it to be taught by it; for it is often in the absence of material we are most reliant on God.
So then, is God playing some sick game of trying to make us need Him? In a beautiful understanding of Grace, yes. If you had the most satisfying thing under your possession, and in infinite quantity, wouldn’t you want people to want it? Christ is the most satisfying and is in infinite quantity. But we are so often distracted by the momentary good we become blinded to the eternal better. A bite now is better than a meal later but ultimately you will die this way.
God uses times of provision and times of need to teach us. They teach us to rely on Him, teach us to seek Him, and teach us to trust the Giver more than the gift. Provision is not an object but an experience.
Perhaps I should not despise money but rejoice in God’s redemption of it. Though it beckons me turn from Him, His voice is stronger – bringing both me to my knees and money to the end of itself for His purposes.
So how is provision not light?
The above argument was to prove this point: our sanctification is precious to God. He will use every measure and means to produce in us the Holy Righteousness He has called us to. The having and not having are essential parts in that process, but more so He concerns Himself with our reactions, both outwardly and inwardly.
We may first be as children, grumbling our circumstances, but then quieted by His promise and eventually satisfied by His goodness. Or we could become the second son (Matthew 21:28-31), verbally placing our trust in God, and yet all the while seeking other means of meeting our needs, usually less than appropriate. Trusting God does not mean doing nothing, but it definitely does not mean doing anything. You would be better off poor and prayerful than increasing and ignorant of the ways of God.
God provides because He wants you to have; but what is it He wants you to have? Objects? Surely there are immeasurably greater things awaiting us in the glory to come. No, He desires holiness; set apart for Himself. He gives to us that He may have us. And we need, that we may want Him more; we can never need Him more than we do at this very moment, just as He will never love us more than He does precisely now.