September 20, 2020
Community Baptist Church of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Wealth Inequality. It’s a hot topic today. It was a hot topic yesterday. And you can bet it’ll be a hot topic tomorrow.
Jesus said, “The poor you will have with you always.” Was he right? Seems true. Yet nowadays, we have so many competing economic theories that strive to overcome this epidemic of poverty, once and for all. Most of them can be recognized as branches of one of two trees:
Capitalists claim that anybody can build as much wealth as they want in a free society; Socialists claim that nobody will be poor in a society they control, they’ll redistribute all the wealth equally.
There’s this old joke. “What do capitalist countries and socialist countries have in common?”
“Starving poor people”.
So, does God have an answer for poverty? Does he have an economic system for us?
Is God a Capitalist? Some say, yes He is. Is God a Socialist? Others say, absolutely (which is ironic, because the father of socialism, Karl Marx, was an atheist).
Capitalism was born between the 16th and 17th centuries. Socialism and his twin brother communism were born in the 18th century, and spread throughout the world in the revolutions of the early 20th century and continues to spread this day. They’re young.
Ok, Let’s screw our heads on straight here. This isn’t really going to be about politics or economic systems. This is about Jesus, His word, and His way.
Christianity was born at the dawn of the first century, two thousand years ago. The canon of the Christian Bible, our standard for revealed truth, was established at the Council of Laodicea in the Year of our Lord 363.
What is revealed in the Bible that tells us God’s truth when it comes to wealth inequality?
In scripture, we read that God promises his people, “You who have no money, come, buy, and eat!”
But we also read, “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
We read, “Freely you have received; freely give.”
But we also read, “The worker deserves his wages.”
We read, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
But we also read, “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.”
So what do we make of these seeming contradictions?
When we seek to understand the Bible, the best rule is “scripture proves scripture.” The Bible is not exactly a Harry Potter novel or a Tom Clancy thriller with one chapter after another in chronological order. It’s a collection of writings written over the course of thousands of years by many different inspired people, all inspired by one Holy Spirit, that miraculously tells one story that culminates in one person, Jesus Christ. We must always remember that.
Our key to interpretation is Jesus himself, the Word made flesh.
Moses, and the scribes who carefully passed on the Five Books of Moses, did not fully know what the climax of their story would be, but they had faith in it; King David, the king who ruled with a sword in one hand and a harp in the other, when he wrote the Psalms, he also spoke of Jesus Christ, though he did not fully know it — how could he know his distant descendant any better than we could know our own great-great-great-great grandchildren?; and the Prophets who came after David, Isaiah who foresaw the virgin birth of Jesus; Daniel, who predicted the exact time of his coming; and Joel, who foresaw the covenant he would bring, nevertheless even they wrote hundreds of years before Jesus came, and they did not fully understand who Jesus would be, or the truth he would reveal in its fullness.
But the Holy Spirit did.
Jesus said to the religious authorities of his day, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” He was talking about the Old Testament, Moses and the Prophets. If the teachers of Israel had trouble with the scriptures, which were fresher and more recently written for them than they are for us, how well are we going to do?
But actually, we have more than they ever did: we have Jesus. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians that for those who do not have Jesus, there is a veil over the Old Testament when it is read, because only “in Christ” is the veil taken away. Even the Apostles, who knew Jesus personally, could not see through this veil at first. After he arose from the dead, he encountered his disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they didn’t recognize him. They had lost faith that he would rise from the dead! So he called them fools, because they didn’t know this promise was in their scriptures, hence their lost hope. He says:
“How slow are your hearts to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then to enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself.
So beginning with Moses – which means, the first of the five books of Moses, Genesis, the very first book of the Bible! – Jesus is there. From the very first words of the very first book of the Bible, the cross is there. The blood of the lamb is there. The empty tomb is there!
He is the first, and the last.
But what does any of this have to do with wealth inequality? Much in every way.
The Bible is full of statements about wealth inequality. It’s an issue the Holy Spirit loved to tackle. But we must read all these statements through the interpretive lens of Jesus, since what was written in Moses and the Prophets, is no longer veiled, but un-veiled by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
So in order to understand scripture on wealth inequality, we’re going to talk first about The Law of Moses, then the Prophets. Then, we will interpret them through Jesus.
1) How did the Law approach wealth inequality? In Deuteronomy, we read the following:
At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is the manner of remission: Every creditor shall cancel what he has loaned to his neighbor. He is not to collect anything from his neighbor or brother, because the LORD’s time of release has been proclaimed.
Can you imagine that? Surely we could do with such a rule now! All debts forgiven, every seven years! That’s called the Jubilee. Sounds nice. Also sounds awful if you’re in the loan business! Let’s read on:
There will be no poor among you, however, because the LORD will surely bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, if only you obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commandments I am giving you today.
Sounds a lot like what we read in Proverbs: “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth.” And yet, did you notice that this promise is conditional: there will be no poor among you if only you obey the LORD, and follow his commandments — the LAW. There’s more:
If there is a poor man among your brothers within any of the gates in the land that the LORD your God is giving you, then you are not to harden your heart or shut your hand from your poor brother. Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him whatever he needs.
The Israelites were commanded to be charitable. Charity, then, is one of the commandments of the Law they must obey in order to be blessed with wealth. In fact, throughout Proverbs we are taught that a charitable person will be blessed, and a stingy person will be cursed:
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.
The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.
The Law also prescribes a welfare system:
“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner.
Do we notice that this is not welfare as we know it today, administered by the state and funded by taxation or even tithing? Instead, it’s an act of direct hospitality commanded by God: you are to welcome the poor, and the foreigner, onto your own property, and offer a portion your harvest that you have personally reserved for them, and they will help themselves to it.
Now there are, in the Law, three forms of tithing, which is a similar practice to taxation except it’s a free will offering rather than a compulsory collection. There was only one tax commanded for the people of God, and that was the Temple tax, a “contribution to the LORD” to “make atonement for yourselves” in the Temple, to be paid by adult males. Not so much about charity. The three types of tithe were: the Levitical tithe for the priests, the Festival tithe for national holidays, and the Charity tithe. The Charity tithe is most relevant to our discussion about wealth inequality, since this tithe is reserved for the poor, the orphan, and the widow:
“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns…and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”
This is a lot like the seven-year Jubilee. It is a special time for the whole nation to come together and give care to the poor in a special way.
So we can see then, that in the Law, all care of the poor is the direct responsibility of every property-owning citizen of the Kingdom of God. Whether it be a gift, tzedakah, or a tithe, maaser, it is to be administered in the spirit of charity, chesed, rather than obligation, or sacrifice, zabah, as God said through Hosea the Prophet, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
Chesed, not zabah.
Shall we note that such charity and tithing requires the giver to own property, and for the owner to exercise his private property rights? We will see later that Jesus also addresses and endorses the rights of the private property owner. But it would seem we have a paradox: by the commandment of God, prosperity requires charity; but the commandment to charity presumes wealth inequality, since the giver is to give from what he has, that is, from out of his private property. By nature, private property is unequally distributed: since only good land and good resources are of use to an owner, they are naturally scarce; scarcity raises its price; and not all can afford the cost of these scarce resources in the volume necessary to put them to their desired alternative use.
“The poor you will have always” indeed, so long as resources are scarce.
And yet the LORD prescribes not a change of economic system, but a change in thinking: no matter how much we have, it is a blessing from the LORD, therefore a portion must be reserved for the poor lest we forfeit the blessing. My friends who grew up in the south taught me something I didn’t learn growing up in New England: when you make rice, you make enough for your family and then some, even if you aren’t expecting guests. Those who have offered hospitality to strangers have entertained angels unaware.
So. In the Law, the LORD promised prosperity for obedience. The people were commanded to be obediently joyful givers. This is the condition for prosperity: charity.
So much for the Law. Let’s talk about the Prophets.
2) We will see shortly in the story of Samuel and King Saul that there was nothing more frustrating to the LORD than when his people, growing lukewarm in their faith, outsourced the well-being of the Commonwealth to a King, since that was a sure path to slavery for His people whom He brought out of Egypt. The Prophets tell us in more detail that acts of this nature are in fact a complete abandonment of God, and God will abandon his people who do such things.
These Prophets are the same ones who foretold that the Messiah would come, for whom the whole of creation was waiting. You see, as wonderful and good as the Law of Moses was, Israel had a lot of problems with it. Prophet Jeremiah cries out against God because, while He promised in the Law to bless the righteous, instead He was blessing the wicked, making them rich:
Righteous are You, O LORD,
when I plead before You.
Yet about Your judgments
I wish to contend with You:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?
You planted them, and they have taken root.
They have grown and produced fruit.
Jeremiah tells us God’s answer. He says about Israel:
I have forsaken My house;
I have abandoned My inheritance.
I have given the love of My life
into the hands of her enemies.
My inheritance has become to Me
like a lion in the forest.
She has roared against Me;
therefore I hate her. Many shepherds have destroyed My vineyard; they have trampled My plot of ground. They have turned My pleasant field into a desolate wasteland. They have made it a desolation; desolate before Me, it mourns.
It mourns. God has abandoned His people because they have abandoned Him. And what does that look like? Among other things, wealth inequality. And not just any wealth inequality. It is the wicked ones who prosper with worldly wealth — while those who formerly had the heavenly wealth of relationship with God and then gave it up, now even their worldly wealth has been taken away. Doesn’t this remind us of what Jesus said? “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
These are words of judgment. This sort of wealth inequality is far beyond the naturally uneven distribution of scarce resources, and whose private ownership is protected by the commandment “Thou shalt not steal” — because Jeremiah is talking about the faithless, the wicked. He asks, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” What is the way of the wicked? Prophet Isaiah says of these,
“Their feet run to evil,
And they hasten to shed innocent blood;
Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,
Devastation and destruction are in their highways…
There is no justice in their tracks.”
No justice. They are thieves. They have broken into the house of the people of God and plundered it. Why was this house so vulnerable, when it should have been fortified by the great wall and strong pillars of the commandments of God?
Because “Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard” — that is, the leaders of Israel failed. They abandoned God, and in so doing, sacrificed everything that truly mattered.
Now, God often spoke of His vineyard. Doesn’t that remind us of Jesus’ parable of the Vineyard in today’s reading? When he compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a vineyard, his Jewish audience would have known he was talking about Israel, the vineyard of the Lord. Isaiah tells us, “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel.”
Israel had for many years been without a legitimate King, and many who followed Jesus hoped that He would “restore the kingdom to Israel”, that is, take the throne, since He was the descendant of King David, while King Herod who then ruled over them was not. They called their hope “the hope of Israel” or “the hope of glory.”
You see, the story of the Bible is the story of hope for redemption, for salvation, for freedom. But until Jesus came, the people who lived the stories of the Bible didn’t fully know exactly what they were waiting for. Paul says that the “hope of glory” was a mystery that wasn’t revealed until Christ.
They thought they were waiting for their own land, promised to Abraham, but that didn’t totally work out, and they were enslaved by Egypt;
They thought they were waiting for freedom from slavery, but that didn’t really work out, since as soon as they had their freedom from Egypt, they enslaved themselves to idolatry in the desert of Sinai;
They thought they could find redemption in the Law that Moses brought down from the mountain, but the Law condemned them, because they were all sinners like us;
Finally they came into the Promised Land, a rich and fertile land, but they couldn’t fulfill their end of the Promise, they kept breaking the Law — so God kept sending the curses that He said were the rightful punishment for sinning against the covenant they’d made together.
Then they thought, if we can’t become great by our own power, then we should put over ourselves a great King who will make us great! HE will ensure our prosperity. That’s what all the other great nations do.
In the days of the Judge and Prophet Samuel, long before Jesus, the Israelites demanded their first king. But God was angry. He said, “They have rejected me as their king.” He decided He would grant their wish for a king, but told the Samuel to deliver this warning to the people:
These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 1And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
…“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations.”
Can we see to what lengths the people go, what cost they are willing to incur upon themselves, in order to ensure their own prosperity without God’s help? Indeed, all those calamities befell them when they crowned Saul the King of Israel. The proverb came true: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”
“What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain.” These are the words of Paul. Indeed, he pointed out “the Law made nothing perfect,” and neither did Kings bring a lasting glory to the nation, even King David, the one after the Lord’s own heart.
Over many centuries, not only did the people of God not attain the prosperity they desired, they sold themselves into slavery: first to the Law, since Paul says they were slaves to the Law; then to tyrants, in the age of the Prophets, also known as the “time of the Gentiles”, when the four great Kingdoms of Daniel: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, trampled the Vineyard of God underfoot, sent by God Himself to discipline the faithless nation of Israel.
And what was the primary symptom of all this slavery?
They abandoned their faith. They abandoned their God. They did not seek the Kingdom of God, but sought to build themselves a Kingdom of Man. Note what poverty they reaped for sowing such infidelity to God and to one another.
So much for the Law and the Prophets. Now, we come to the time of Jesus.
3) Having pinned the “hope of glory” on Jesus, the people sought to know what he had to say about whether he would restore the Kingdom to Israel. He said, “The Kingdom of God does not come by observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” In this Kingdom, he teaches,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
He says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
He says, “No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
He says: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even King Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the nations strive after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.
These are the words of life. These are the words of the one by whose resurrection God swore that all his words of life were true. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
We have seen that from the beginning, the people of God abandoned Him and rather than seeking His kingdom, they sought after vanity. Man in his greed grasps for the world, and it dissolves in his hands as if it were never there; man in his idealism tries to build a tower to the heavens, reaching upward with the commendable but vain hope of overcoming poverty, chaos, and even death itself by the power of his own hand — but he does not reach the stars, instead he only ends up six feet under.
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
But. As sure as God is the God of Truth, there is an answer to this. God’s answer. But not man’s. Surely, the sciences of man are a precious fruit of man’s inquiry into truth. Yet, where the freedom of capitalism has been sought after, without faith they were just as liable to enslave themselves to idols of greed as Israel in the desert, who shackled themselves to the very thing from which they fled. Where the utopia of socialism has been sought, revolution after revolution, nothing but wholesale theft, murder, a reign of terror: in Russia, 60 million dead; in China, nearly one hundred million, and even in Germany where their socialism was merely “national”, 6 million of my Jewish ancestors, brutally and systematically murdered. Hundreds of thousands in modern day Eastern Europe and Africa, South America. Still going on to this day. All for an ideal. For utopia.
Was it their high hopes, the hope of glory, that led all those idealistic socialists like Daedalus to fly too close to the sun of that glory, only to find their ideological vehicle, burn up in disaster? Hardly. We don’t need to be so superstitious. Rather, those on the Red March didn’t recognize that their futile political system was futile because it was motivated by that great cardinal and deadly sin: envy. They broke the commandment of God, “Do not covet thy neighbor’s house, or any of thy neighbor’s goods”. Ungodly from the beginning, from the root. They, no different whatsoever from those capitalists whom they accuse, cultivate within themselves the root of all evil, the love of money, in self-deception it would seem, and they all bear the fruit thereof.
So when we want to talk about economics systems, to discern which is best, that’s a good thing to do — but we need to tread carefully, and remember that humans don’t do systems well. Even God’s system — God’s Law, God’s PERFECT LAW — was a FAILURE, in the imperfect hands of mankind.
The imperfection is sin.
Capitalism doesn’t deal with sin. Jesus did.
Socialism doesn’t deal with sin. Jesus did.
It always comes back to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Hallelujah.
No, man’s solutions do not work when they oppose God to the face. But God has an answer for this. In the parable of the Vineyard, Jesus reveals something to us: God’s relationship with us is a two-way street. The master of the Vineyard hires help — he does not buy chattel slaves. His helpers agree to the wage he offers. In this way, though the helpers from the morning are jealous that the helpers from the last hour make the same wages, the master has nonetheless been fair: he did not force any of his workers into their labor. They agreed to the arrangement. Freely.
The most superficial insight we can glean from this, interpreting economics against scripture, is that such an economic arrangement was impossible in Soviet Russia, since a man had no property of his own. It all became property of the state, with the promise that private property itself would be finally abolished in the name of equality — or it will one day, anyway. At any rate, he can’t set his own prices. Even in modern nations with lesser degrees of socialism, the government controls pricing in hopes of securing the people a “better deal”, hence in America, our “New Deal” type of socialist policy. But we see that in the Kingdom of God, even this is several stretches of man’s imaginatively reaching arms beyond the simple law by which God maintains His pleasant, verdant vineyard. The law of God, Apostle James tells us, is the “law of liberty”.
On the other hand, the deepest insight to be had from this wonderful parable, interpreting scripture against scripture, comes when we understand the Vineyard to be the Kingdom of God, which Paul says is the mystery hidden throughout the ages, but now revealed by Christ. The people of God saw it only through a veil until Jesus came. The laborers in the Vineyard are like the Patriarchs of the Faith from the beginning of the world. Long before Jesus came, God offered the Kingdom of Heaven to Adam and Eve, who sinned and lost the right to it; but nonetheless, they labored in the Vineyard of faith for the wage, the promise, of the Kingdom of God; and so did their son Abel, the first righteous martyr, and their next son Seth; and so did Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and so on and so forth. As we are told in Hebrews, they all “longed for a better country–a heavenly one.”
That Jesus’ generation is the worker who came at the end of the day, five o’clock, receiving the wage in a single hour that the others who came before labored for so much longer, is also shown by Paul in 1st Corinthians. He also lists many examples of faithful service from the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Kingdom of God, before the days of Israel and since. And of these stories he says, “These things happened to them as examples, and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.”
There is an ancient Jewish tradition that holds that the first covenant was with Noah; the second was with Abraham; and the third was with Moses. These could perhaps correspond to the times of the day when the master of the Vineyard went out to gather his servants: Noah at nine, Abraham at noon, Moses at three. And of course, at five o’clock, you have the final hour, and the new and final eternal covenant, that of Jesus. The long awaited promise, the hope of glory.
Paul goes to great lengths in the book of Hebrews to show that Moses is clear that the promise would not come through obedience to the Law, since they were disobedient from the beginning. Moses records the words of the LORD: “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared an oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” This is why the Law came in the first place — because they were unworthy of the Promise. He says, “The Law was our guardian until Christ came.”
So, Paul concludes, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” That Rest was long awaited by the people of God, and it is by the priesthood of Jesus that we are finally able to enter that Rest: since the only true Rest is the presence of God, and we sinners cannot enter the presence of God without Jesus’ righteous sacrifice for our sins. The Law also shows that God is the only true Rest in that He gave the Jews the Sabbath, the day of rest on the final day of the week, as a symbol and foreshadowing of His Rest.
Rest. Rest from labor. Isn’t that what God has promised those who love and serve him? “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” Where there is rest, there is certainly no painful toil. And when the Rest is none other than to “share in Christ”, then this is the greatest wealth of all — the eternal treasure which cannot be eaten by moths. Eternal life!
Worldly wealth is but a shadow of the heavenly. This is why Jesus says, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Let’s be charitable! Let’s not be stingy. For worldly wealth passes away, and to be covetous for it corrupts the capitalist as much as the socialist, since it is not money but the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. Why love worldly wealth that passes away? But eternal wealth, the great treasure of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, never will.
Truly, then, “the poor will be with you always”, but this is not a curse, for in this New Covenant we have with God through our Lord Jesus, “there is no more curse.” Let us never forget this truth, that where the bonds of love are strong and Christian liberty reigns, there is no poverty, but an abundance. Some may have more than others, but what does it matter if they are joyful givers? Similarly, some may have less than others, but what does it matter if God’s grace is sufficient? In both of these, we are to judge ourselves as God judges us, by the spiritual law of liberty.
The only wealth inequality which should matter to us, then, is the wealth of the spirit. Because in the absence of faith, sin abounds, and in this case there is the sin of covetous envy, which takes away freedom because it is the spirit of theft and slavery, breaking the law of liberty; and it oppresses charity, since charity is a fruit of the spirit and springs from faith, and cannot truly come from any other source. When we lose these, an unjust wealth inequality grows as a symptom. It always has, it always will, so long as these conditions prevail in the hearts of humankind.
Therefore, if we see this injustice, we can always be sure that it is the result of man’s efforts. “Shepherds have destroyed the Vineyard.” We must heed Samuel’s warning, that giving away to leaders what God has entrusted to us as individuals, and to our families – namely, the care of the land and one another – will yield oppression, if we do so in a spirit of infidelity to God, since it is an act of faithlessness akin to Esau selling his birthright to Jacob. Then, the rich will indeed rule over the poor, and the borrower becomes servant to the lender, just as Jacob came to rule over Esau.
It is our job, then, to be charitable in hopes of helping our fellow man in his worldly needs, and not just this, but we must also address the spiritual root by sharing the Gospel.
None of this is to say that we must accept an undesirable financial situation for fear of sinning against God. No: submit all things to the Lord. We are expected to take care of ourselves if we are able, and to excel at doing so. Parents are expected to care for their children, to give them what they need, and to excel at doing so. We are expected to show our love of God by our love for one another in all things, and to excel at doing so. This is faithfulness to God. We are expected to work hard, to the glory of God. Paul says,
“We hear that some people in your group refuse to work. They are doing nothing except busying the lives of others. Our instruction to them is to stop bothering others, to start working and earn their own food. It is by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are urging them to do this…’Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat’…Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically…work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ…whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Let us do everything with “faith working through love”. Without faith, we are in bondage, and we perpetuate bondage; if we are a faithless people of bondage, the abundance of the Kingdom will never be ours, or anybody’s. But have faith, even just a tiny bit of faith, in the God of Love. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…Seek His kingdom, and these things will be added unto you.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom,
The hope of Glory.
Let us pray once again, the Our Father, understanding now much better the rich well of meaning Jesus has given us in the words “thy Kingdom come,” “our daily bread”, and “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.