Sunday, 6 September 2009

Who is Your Source: God or Yourself?

"Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David 
to number Israel" - 1 Chronicles 21:1

Recently I've felt that God has been calling me away from "religiously" accounting of my finances. For a long time I would religiously record every receipt, expenditure and form of income into an accounting software program. In reading the above verse I began to re-evaluate this practice.

First of all, it was Satan who initiated the problem for David. That Satan started it automatically describes the problem as evil and not of God. So what was the problem with taking an account and numbering (census) Israel? I think that the issue here was that it led to pride and a spirit of self-sufficiency rather than upon a complete dependence upon God.

Why did David need to know exactly how big his military was? Did he not believe that it was God who fought the battles for Israel? Remember Gideon who was about to go to war with 30,000 men and God reduced that number to a mere 300 men before the battle began (Judges 7: 1-8). Who is it who fights for us? Why did David need to know how many people lived in Israel if not that in doing so he could take pride in being the king over so large a nation?

In the same way, why do most church institutions count and number the people who come out each Sunday if not to give pastors bragging rights about the size of "their church" and the effectiveness of "their ministries?"

Likewise, why do we focus so much on personal accounting and record keeping if not because we believe that we are in control of our own financial destinies? We may not say it in so many words, but by our actions this seems to be the implications of what we are saying.

Some will no doubt say that keeping good records is important because it shows that we are "good stewards." Yes, we do need to be good stewards of all that God blesses us with, but I think that accounting for every nickel is not what makes a good steward. Listening to God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit is what makes one a good steward. It is walking through life "as the wind blows (John 3:8), all the while knowing and trusting that God is in control of all things.

That is essentially the problem. All forms of accounting and numbering, whether it's in the institutional church or in personal finances, is of the world and not of God. They all reveal our dependence upon our own strength and abilities rather than a complete and total dependence and trust on God's daily providence in everything (see Matthew 6: 19-34). "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing," said Jesus (Matthew 6:3). Again Jesus taught us, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11), implying that we are to seek "daily" provisions from God rather than focussing on the long term. Remember the Israelites in the wilderness were told to gather only enough manna for one day and anyone who gathered more than they needed for that day found that the surplus had spoiled and become full of magots (Exodus 16: 20).

The point I'm trying to make is that God calls us to not worry about tomorrow. Forget the accounting. Forget the storing up for tomorrow. Forget the leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Can we start to really trust 100% on the power and providence of God to take care of us in everything?

We may not know what tomorrow holds, but as Christians we certainly ought to know who holds it. If this is truly how we feel and truly what we believe, then why is it that we act like we don't believe it through our efforts to account and number everything ourselves? Is that not the same as calling God a liar? Is that not the same as blatant unbelief?

Is God really our source for everything in life, or does His providence depend upon our own efforts as implied by our habits (passions?) to account and number everything? I wonder.

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