And when you pray...
And when you fast...
(Matthew 6:2, 5,16 and Luke 16:10, ESV)
As parents, my wife and I have tried to instill wise money stewardship in our children's value system. We have three rules of governance for every bit of money they receive, and we expect them to exercise these rules without our badgering. You can walk up to them at any time and ask them “What are the three rules of money?” and they'll just spout off the answers. The rules:
- Sacrifice: always put God first. Use the Old Testament standard of tithing and offerings as a discipline and the New Testament standard of liberal giving as there is need, always seeking to discern what the Spirit is saying and doing.
- Save: put away at least 10% for your future and more as you have it.
- Spend: always take care of needs first; next consider how your spending allows you to honor God with acts of hospitality and helps; then, and only after sacrifice, save and previous spend rules, spend on yourself.
At 10 and 7, I would not say my children have mastered this mentality and discipline, but I must commend them for their general adherence. They truly seem to have caught the spirit and the Spirit of the thing. It's becoming easier and easier to trust my children with money, because they are maturing more and more in how they handle it.
In my last article I talked about the fact that many people want God to give them a specific ministry and / or purpose in life, yet they have not been diligent or opportunistic about God's general will. Today's article is a continuation.
God has spiritual and life expectations for us. Some of these expectations are clearly outlined during part of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount” as found in Matthew 6. Jesus' words are important. He doesn't say “if you give” or “if you pray” or “if you fast.” Sometimes what isn't said is important. In this case, what isn't said is important, and what is said is even more important. The word is “when” in each case. It reveals expectations.
These, like my expectations for my daughters' money management, are just basic expectations. You know there's more.
Jesus was talking to a society that lived religiously. Their culture was religious. Everything about their daily lives, down to eating or not eating certain foods, was religious in nature and consideration. These were “People of the Book” or “People of the Law.” Even their national government was theocratic in practice. Adherence to God's Law was their very lifestyle. Jesus didn't need to preface his comments, explaining what spiritual discipline meant, before He said, “When...”
What I am getting at is simple, if we want to know the specific, we must become committed to the discipline of the expected.
What follows in the economy of God is simple. When we are found faithful in small things, He increases our opportunity. When we are diligent in the revealed will of God, He opens to us the specific.
Do you want big ministry? Big responsibility? Would you like to do important, meaningful things for the Lord? Good. It's good to desire these things! We all must start by working on the simple expectations of God.
Develop a discipline of giving that honors God's revealed will. Develop a discipline of prayer that engages the Lord and is according to His priorities. Develop a discipline of fasting that increases your spiritual potency. It seems the Lord designed us in such a way these things are meant to be normal.
God has for us all great, spiritual expectations! Begin to obey and watch God move!