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Tuesday, 08 September 2015 07:25

Whose Money Is It, Anyway?

Written by  Sam Whatley
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Not long ago two friends of mine debated whether or not a Christian owns the money in his bank account. One said, yes, the money was a gift from God and it was his to choose how to spend it. The other said, no, the money was God’s and a Christian was only the steward of those funds. They agreed to disagree.

Obviously, this was a spiritual, not legal, debate. But it brought to mind a lesson from Jesus’ famous parable, The Prodigal Son. Look at how the two sons viewed their father’s property in Luke 15:11-32.

“Jesus continued: There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”

Notice the younger son talks about his share of the estate, as if it belonged to him already. The father is still living. Then the scripture says the father “…divided his property… So the property was, in fact, the father’s. It did not really belong to either son, until he gave it to them.

But let’s consider the perspective of the third character in the drama, the older brother, who stayed behind and worked, while his younger brother went the way of the world. When we first meet him, the older brother has been working in the field. As he comes near the house he hears music and dancing. A servant tells him that his wandering brother is back and that his father has killed a calf and thrown a Welcome Home party. The older brother gets angry and refuses to go inside. The father comes out to make peace with him. That is where we join the story.

But he answered his father,“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him.”

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”  (Luke 15:28-32)

Did you catch that? The older son said that his younger brother squandered his dad’s property. Then he makes a comparison between his brother getting a fat calf while he never got so much as a goat.

But if everything the father owned was divided between his two sons, only the older son had anything left. So the calf was legally his. However, the older son tells his father that the younger son has “… squandered your property…” Whose property? If what the younger son squandered was still the father’s property, then everything the older son was given was also still the father’s property.

Everything we think we own is our heavenly Father’s property. Not in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of those who understand the Creator of all things. I know it does not seem that way. It seems like we did it all ourselves. We studied in school, worked hard, and saved what we could. And now, we feel it is ours. But let’s consider Who gave us our parents, our opportunities, energy, intelligence, and everything else.

As some pastors pray while holding up the offering, “Of thine own have we given thee.” And that brings up another point. What we give in the offering plate is not really given to that church. It is given back to God.

The church doesn’t really own it any more than we did. It is to be spent for the glory of God the Father and the spread of His kingdom. We may see some results of it, but probably not all. We can’t see how it blesses the missionary, the refugee, or the recovering alcoholic. We give it to God. God gives it, through the church, to others.

Let us take every opportunity to give back whatever we can of what our heavenly Father has freely given us.

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 09:00
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