In Exodus 32 we see a prime example of what wasting wealth looks like; and not surprisingly, it comes in conjunction with people worshiping the wrong thing. When the children of Israel were about to leave Egypt God gave them favor in the sight of the Egyptians so that their neighbors willingly gave them an abundance of gold and silver (Ex 11:1-3; 12:35, 36). Granted, in those days there weren’t websites and apps at people’s fingertips whereby they could have seemingly instant access to gold and silver’s worth; but nonetheless, it was a very valuable resource and the Israelites left Egypt with a good amount of it as a result of God’s grace.
And He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. (Lk. 9:3)
And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” (Lk. 22:35)
These two verses, though chapters apart from each other are directly connected. They link two historical events and they illustrate the truth that God provides for His people.
In Luke 9 Jesus called the twelve apostles to Himself for the purposes of commissioning them, commanding them, and equipping them for the immediate task of reaching the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 10:6). He gave them authority over evil spirits, power to heal diseases (vs.1) and He sent them out to preach the good news of the kingdom of God (vs.2). The subsequent instructions that He gave them appear to have a sense of urgency. The disciples were not to take anything with them. Jesus said, “Take nothing for your journey, neither staff nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece” (vs.3).
I can remember reading an article in a daily newspaper that began with a kind of startling opening sentence. It went something like this – ‘according to financial experts people with high incomes are struggling with debt as much as people with low incomes.’ Now at first glance that could appear surprising. But upon further consideration you can see why it isn’t.
Perhaps you can recount times when you were in difficult financial straits, not because you were unemployed, or ‘under-employed’, but because you lacked self-control. The income was there, the work was there, yet, before you knew it, you found yourself having frivolously spent whatever you had. The world system we live in is designed to bolster that tendency. Billboards proudly declare that their products are the secrets to success and happiness. E-mail inboxes can fill up with sales on just about anything and who can resist 50% off a familiar shopping item? Societal norms (cars, cable, cell phones, etc.) increase the cost of living. Credit cards are often easily mishandled leaving their debtors to pay not only their debt but additional fees as well. The list could go on and on… it really could. And unless a person has borne the fruit of self-control via the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, they will not handle their finances in a God honoring manner.
Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 10:2)
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 11:4)
Immediately in these verses our attention is drawn to the end of life and what awaits at that point. Quite the contrast from how society exhorts us to live. We’re told “live for the here and now”, “all you have is today”, “you only live once”, and things like that; but the Scriptures would have us be wise by looking to the future. That is the best way to live wisely today – living with an eternal and biblical perspective.