Doesn’t independence feel great?! Not having to rely upon others is such a release of stress. That is certainly one of the highest values espoused by the world. As evidenced by the quote above, that spirit of independence isn’t anything new.
But is there a danger in self-sufficiency? The Bible would tell us so! Jesus’ letter to the church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation is a great example of this: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev.3:17). Self-sufficiency is rooted in the age-old sin of pride and independence that we see in Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden! Satan’s temptation was that they don’t need God to tell them right and wrong, that if they eat of the fruit their eyes would be opened and they could know such things for themselves (Gen.3:5)! We were created for relationship with God. We were created for dependence, not independence. He desires to be our Heavenly Father who cares for us.
Week one of our new sermon series “Investing Like Jesus” focused on the money that God entrusts to us to steward. If self-sufficiency (independence) is the highest goal of life then money (financial capital) is the most important thing to gain. That’s what the world teaches us, doesn’t it? It calls us to make all that we can so that we can be secure and enjoy life. WE are the centre and purpose of life. The Bible paints a very different picture and challenges us to re-prioritize the place of money in our lives. Money is not to be an end in itself, but rather a tool to be used to bless and serve others (and ultimately leveraged for the Kingdom’s sake)! Paul states it like this in 2 Corinthians 8:13-14: “ Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.”
What is to be the highest priority in the life of a believer? To seek first the Kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33)! If we do this, Jesus promises that our Heavenly Father will take care of all our needs. Some peoples’ wrong assumption is that this means that God will make us self-sufficient. This certainly can’t be the case. If anybody was sold out for the cause of Christ it was the apostle Paul and examining his life we see that that promise certainly didn’t mean self-sufficiency!
Phil.4:11-13 is very revealing in regards to this: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”.
Mike Breen’s comments on this are helpful: “Paul’s life wasn’t filled with constant financial abundance, and neither should we expect ours to be. Paul had seasons when he was in need, and he also had seasons when he had plenty. In ALL of those circumstances, Paul was able to function in his identity and calling, because of the strength that Jesus gave him. When finances were low, he knew he still had other kinds of capital that were worth far more than mere money. So whether he had plenty of money or very little money, he could still do everything he needed to do through the grace of God.”
What is your current mindset regarding money? Is it healthy and biblical, or do you need to make some adjustments? May God never have occasion to say to you or me, or our church, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”