Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled…”
We see the builders start working on the sanctuary. They are getting the resources to build from gift offerings from the Israelites. They run into a problem. Although a good problem, still a problem. They have been given too much – and the workers cannot keep up. So Moses has to make an announcement.
After 15 years of preaching – this is an announcement that I have yet to make but would absolutely love making.
Moses tells the Israelites: We have too much from the offering – we cannot outwork the generosity – stop giving so the work can catch up.
The whole nation of Israel is working together – everyone is doing their part. When the whole body works together there is more than enough.
Unfortunately, in the modern church, not everyone is pulling their weight. I know it sounds harsh and I may be preaching to the choir. But the statistics show that 20% percent of the church is carrying 80% of the workload. It roughly translates to participation, work and giving.
It follows along with the Pareto principle – which simply defined is: roughly 80% of the effects come from roughly 20% of the causes.
So if the church is functioning with only 20% of the people active and giving, think what it could do if everyone did their part? If everyone carried their weight, could the workers not keep up with generosity of the church again?
My challenge to you: get involved, help out, give generously and recruit others to do the same.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+36-38&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Exodus 39-40 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
Today is another comparison between the righteous and the wicked. This time most of the comparisons are about outcomes. Although it may already be clear, there is a relationship between wisdom and righteousness. There is also a relationship between fools and the wicked. Because of temptation always trying to lead us astray, fools turn towards wickedness, but it takes seeking wisdom to be righteous.
Verse 3 through 6 say:
3 The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed
We see that the upright or righteous person will be delivered from death. The fool or wicked person will be destroyed. The money, possessions or whatever else they have gained from their crooked ways cannot save them. We see people who have gained wealth and power from all kinds of things that are not pleasing to God. We see people that appear to have it made who are not seeking God’s wisdom. We see righteous people who are seeking God’s wisdom go through struggles. However, It is made very clear that no matter what people gain from their wicked ways, in the end it will catch up with them and they will be destroyed. In the end, the righteous ones will be delivered.
Another example from this chapter is verses 24-26
24 There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more,
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.
25 The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.
26 He who withholds grain, the people will curse him,
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.
There are people who teach that this is specifically talking about wealth in the current time. They say that if you give away $10.00, you will get $100.00 in return. I don’t think that is accurate, and I don’t think it is even a great blessing compared to all the blessings that God does give us. However, the generous man is the one who is doing what God wants, which makes it a wise decision. The generous will be blessed. The miser who withholds everything for himself will be cursed. I think some of this comes in everyday life. If someone who is generous and helpful has a problem, often people will help that person. However, when someone who is greedy and never helps anyone else has a problem, people are unlikely to help that person.
Verses 29 and 30 say:
He who troubles his own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.
30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls.
The outcome of seeking Godly wisdom and following in God’s righteousness is life for themselves and for the souls they win. We have to choose daily to seek after wisdom. If we make no choice, foolishness and ultimately destruction are the default choice.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
is riches and honor and life…
Those who are generous are blessed,
for they share their bread with the poor.
On any given Sunday morning, I can flip on my television and find a number of ministers promising me riches, wealth, and prosperity if I only have faith. They usually then want me to practice that faith by making an offering to their ministry – “give us $5 so that God can return it to you one hundred fold.” These promises do indeed sound promising, but this prosperity gospel is not the message that our Lord came preaching.
Just like we can twist the words of Jeremiah 29:11 and John 10:10 to fit this perspective, we can also turn to Proverbs to try to find a God who rewards those who are faithful with riches, wealth, and health. But our interpretation of the Proverbs would be just as tortured if we tried to find its truth in the shallow waters of the prosperity gospel.
Rather, let’s use the Scriptures themselves to better understand the “riches and honor and life” that is promised for those who love the Lord like we find in Proverbs 22:4. Just a few verses later, we find the clarification that we need. It is the “generous” who are (hashtag) blessed.
The wealth of the Gospel of Christ lies not in storing up material wealth or riches or fame, but in sharing the material goodness that we have been given with those who don’t have them. We are blessed with lives of richness, honor, and life abundant when we give away the riches we have so that those with neither riches nor basic needs can be filled as well.
To close with a parable of Jesus, there was a man whose harvest was larger than his barn could store. He decided to build a larger barn to store his crop. However, that night he died and all his wealth was lost. I think that the point of this parable isn’t that we shouldn’t plan ahead or have large barns, but rather that when we have more than we need, we should share it instead of store it up for ourselves.
We can find life, wealth, and riches only when we are generous and give the very things we think we need to hoard.