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.
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.
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 (Lk. 9:1) 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).
The question is: Why did Jesus say this?
Was it simply because the matter of preaching the good news of the kingdom was urgent? Was it because He did not want them encumbered and preoccupied with things that could slow down their mission or distract them from their primary objectives? Was it because Jesus had some measure of concern in relation to the appearance of the disciples, meaning – He did not want them to look like ‘profit seekers’ who were ministering in the hopes that people would drop money into their bags?
Those concerns might have, in some measure, been part-and-parcel of Jesus’ rationale, but I think a primary one can be seen in the question that Jesus asked chapters later: “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything” (22:35a)?
And the disciples responded, “Nothing” (22:35b).
This mission, with all of its other incredibly important, kingdom-centered objectives, had the purpose of teaching the disciples, experientially, that God will provide. They were to walk in faith, commit themselves to the tasks given to them, minister to those who needed to hear the good news and experience healing, and they were to find that God would come through with the provision they needed when they needed it.
Perhaps that is a lesson you need to be reminded of today. This lesson does not dismiss all of the Biblically-appointed means of attaining provision that God has set before us; rather, it undergirds it with a rock-solid Biblical truth that is exemplified and stated throughout the Old and New Testament – the God who numbers the hairs of His people’s heads is the same God who calls His people to seek Him and His kingdom first with the promise that everything they need will be given to them (Mt. 6:33).
By God’s grace, you too will get to the end of your journey, and if you were asked, “Did you lack anything you needed as you went about the mission?” you’d be able to respond, “No, Lord, you sustained me and you gave me everything I needed to complete the task and finish the race.”
May you be exhorted to know that what may look like a challenge of faith today will become a monument of God’s faithfulness later with the memorial ensign – God will provide.
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, the concept of death, and deliverance from both death and wrath. Not exactly subjects that fallen men love to contemplate. The mottos found in society are more apt to be things like: ‘live for the here and now’, ‘all you have is today’, and ‘you only live once’; 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.