"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.' “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 25:14-30
In Hollywood there is an exclusive school attended by children of movie stars, producers, and directors. Asked to write a composition on the subject of poverty, one little girl started her literary piece: "Once there was a poor little girl. Her father was poor, her mother was poor, her nanny was poor, her chauffeur was poor, her butler was poor. In fact, everybody in her mansion was very, very poor.
It is safe to say that young lady is not really in touch with poverty. Most of us would be glad to sign on to her version of being poor.
Those of us this morning are no doubt more in touch poverty than this young lady seemed to be. However, it illustrates that one man’s poverty is another man’s prosperity. Even the poorest Americans would be considered wealthy by most of the world. The poverty level in the USA is around $23,500 for a family of four. Compare that to the average income $7,000 worldwide – and that is the average not the poverty level.
Suffice it to say, while we are wealthy compared to the rest of the world, we are not as wealthy as we would like to be. The American dream is characterized by one word, “MORE!”
As Christians, people who live under the blessing of God, shouldn’t we expect to be wealthier than those who don’t believe? Should we conclude that prosperous Christians are more spiritual than those in poverty? Some would say so.
Then there are other Christians who flatly reject that notion and say the Bible teaches Christians should reject materialism and live a simple life by faith.
Which is it more Biblical, prosperity or poverty?
When I am uncertain and have questions about Biblical truth, I retreat to something I know is true and start figuring it out from there. So, as the diagram illustrates – poverty is on one end of the issue and prosperity is the other extreme – I have placed what I know about stewardship in the middle and will work from there.
POVERTY --- STEWARDSHIP --- PROSPERITY
Over the next four posts I will share four big stewardship principles that will help you decide for yourself about the poverty vs. prosperity debate.
The first big principle is Sovereignty - "To one he gave five bags of golf, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability." V. 15
In yesterday's devotional I talked about the issue of fairness. Fairness is a big issue in our culture today. It has been awarded moral status by the politically correct crowd who have taken it upon themselves to make everything fair for everyone at the expense of excellence.
It seems the biggest casualties of fairness are achievement and accomplishment which is precisely why this master wasn't concerned about being fair. Instead, he gave the gifts to the right guys in the proper amounts to maximize his gains.
Like this master, God is more interested in fruitfulness than He is in fairness. And in His Omniscience and Sovereignty knows who He can trust to bear the most fruit.
Please don't get caught up in the fairness of God but rather focus your concern on bearing fruit for the Master. How can you be fruitful today?