Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Poverty - Roots and Fruits

What I like about this article - Calls us to be proactive, do our best, and believe in the goodness of God, as opposed to being passive, grumbling and complaining, waiting for others/God to do something for us.

What I dont like about this article - Suggests that success is always in the plan of God for all, so long as we keep trying and not give up. Disasters and failures (akin to poverty) seem to have no place in the theology of this article. But the bible clearly teaches about the poor and poverty. Did not Paul say that he had learned how to be content in all circumstances, in poverty and in abandance.

Poverty - Roots and Fruits – John Garfield

The Sound of Poverty - I want to suggest a simple axiom that will help us understand why it's hard to let go of poverty in both theology and practice. "If we believe we're inherently sinful it's nearly impossible to believe that God would want us to be successful in promotions or finances or influence or mountains." Success would simply be a platform for greater levels of sinfulness. To make this point stick, I want to share a couple of paragraphs I received in a newsletter this week. Listen to the tone.
Worshipping Success - Though you may find it hard to believe, there is an addiction more subtle and more powerful than either drugs or pornography. It’s older than prostitution, more prevalent than alcohol, more addictive than cocaine. It doesn’t discriminate between male and female, black or white, young or old, rich or poor. Its strength is greater than all other addictions combined. It’s as rampant in the Church as it is in the world. It leaves the body unscathed but destroys the soul. The vast majority of people addicted have little if any understanding of its power or perils.
The history of the worship of success dates back to Lucifer, the rebellious archangel who wanted to relegate God to a subordinate role and take the ‘top gun’ position for himself. This desire for success soon spread throughout the earth like a cancer, reaching its pinnacle with mankind seeking to build a tower and to make for themselves a name. What a contrast in attitudes we find between Genesis 11 and 12. Chapter 11 exposes man striving for recognition, while chapter 12 we find God promising humble Abraham that He would make his name great.
We could also add a verse:
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap ! and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Tim 6:9-10 NIV
Why Choose Poverty! - Both the exhortation in the paragraphs and the Paul's warning have their place. However, what we've received in our hearts from an overemphasis on those warnings produced a foundation for poverty in our lives. Those words are so strong that we would never risk success at the possible expense of our salvation. We view ourselves as too sin-oriented to ever trust ourselves with success. We dial our initiative back to just waiting for God (or someone else) to do something so we can flow with it. Our only goal is to stay in the boat - no walking on water.
Responsibility is Key to Spiritual Success - We've often heard that it's easier to get God's people out of Egypt than to get Egypt out of God's people. It's very true. Israel wandered 40 years in a desert that could have been crossed in a couple of weeks at a leisurely walk. The "slave mentality" left the people wanting others to do everything for them. They wouldn't take responsibility; they stuck with their programming to: 1) do as they were told, 2) expect someone else to take care of them, and 3) complain about the whole process.
Slaves will not fight for themselves or for God; they cannot be trusted in spiritual warfare. Although Israel was armed with the weapons for battle when they left Egypt they didn't have the mind for it. Sadly - that describes the present, passive state of many believers today. We have the armor, but not the attitude.
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. Ex 13:17-18 NIV
Caleb had a different spirit. He was willing to take responsibility to inherit his land. He was anything but passive. He didn't expect anyone else to fight his battles for him even when he was 85.
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. Num 14:23-24 NIV
So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. Josh 14:10-12 NIV
Maturity Is? - Contrary to popular belief, spiritual maturity comes when we are willing to say yes to success. We're not called to be monks; we're called to take mountains! We not only have to agree to the possibility of success, we have to take the steps to make it happen ourselves. This may surprise you, but God will not hand your inheritance to you until you have the stomach to kill some giants and the ability to manage finances. Yes, it's yours in the will of God, but God is waiting for you to show some initiative. That's how real spiritual maturity works. The idea that God does it all while we believe and pray and obey is simply a false concept rooted in poverty theology... Good for slaves - bad for Kings.
It's your responsibility before God to manage your inheritance and make your dream come true. Slaves will wait and murmur and try to sound spiritual doing it; you cannot. You are a steward of the dream in your heart. God expects you to use wisdom, management, finances, business plans, and take some risks to make it happen. His favor will follow your initiative. You won't get guidance on every detail. God has left many decisions to your free will. How specific is, "Be fruitful and multiply"? You're created in His image to have dominion over the earth and you carry His will in your heart.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion... Gen 1:27-28 NKJV
PS: You're going to experience a few setbacks along the way. It's OK. Keep going. Learn from your mistakes. Take responsibility for your success in the Kingdom.
John & Sue

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