November 15, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Wisdom in Stewardship”

Proverbs 6:6-11 (NIV)

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.

One important lesson I’ve learned over the last decade was around what it means to work hard and prepare for the future. When it comes to how we value resources, most people exist somewhere between obsessive saving & accumulation of wealth, and excessive spending & accumulation of commodities. The former category hoards money and tends to find security in the size of their savings, while the latter hoards products and tends to find security in possessions (brand name fashion, luxury cars, etc.). You probably can categorize yourself as either a spender or a saver, based upon which group you judged the most. ☺  

And when it comes to work ethic, there are those who work hard, and those who play hard. The former category oftentimes toils anxiously, believing that their future success and the meeting of their needs is solely contingent upon their efforts. The latter, instead of idolizing work, idolizes leisure. They chase experiences and prioritize free play over strict schedule, because they believe this will make them happy. Our family of origin and the culture in which we were raised usually determines our bent toward one or the other.  

While condemning laziness as a quick route to poverty, our passage for today does not simply encourage everyone to become work-obsessed and committed to saving. We know it’s God, in grace, who provides for us even as we work (this is why Jesus encourages us to pray to God for our daily bread). Instead, the passage is calling for WISDOM. Like the ant, we must all learn to read the seasons, knowing when it’s time to store and when it’s time to gather. When it comes to resource management of time, talent, and treasure, we honor God most when we prayerfully discern our present moment—is it time to work or time to rest, time to spend or time to save?

Faithfulness means both working hard during the day and resting well during the night. Good stewardship requires both saving, so that we are positioned and free to be a blessing, and spending, so that we might delight in the blessing of God. We honor the seasons when we work with diligence and faith in God’s provision, and rest with delight and thanksgiving for God’s blessings.

Prayer: Almighty God, thank You for Your daily care. Help me to discern when it’s time to work faithfully for You, and when it’s time to rest peacefully in You. Help me to know when it’s time to save diligently for Your glory, and when it’s time to spend joyfully toward that same end. Strengthen me in the areas where I am weak. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: John 15


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 16:1-13 (NIV): Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Questions to Consider

  1. In the first parable, what is the manager commended for? How is Jesus encouraging believers to behave as it relates to their wealth?
  2. What is Jesus’ point in v.10-12? Why is trustworthiness important?
  3. Jesus ends by talking about the allegiance of our hearts. Why is this important in the conversation about wealth management?

Notes

  1. The manager is commended for being shrewd (or a clever business person). Jesus uses this story to encourage believers to be highly shrewd when it comes to their own wealth (we should be excellent and do our best in whatever our field of business might be) but not for ourselves, like the manager. Instead we are shrewd for the sake of blessing others and building the Kingdom of God. We accumulate wealth not for status and friends in high places, but for the sake of bringing friends along with us into the highest place—the family and Kingdom of God.
  2. Jesus does not juxtapose faithfulness with unfaithfulness; instead he sets it opposite dishonestly. It is important that we are faithful to the opportunities and with the resources God gives us. And we are to do this not only shrewdly, but honestly and with integrity.
  3. Most of our problems when it comes to resource management—whether we save or spend, work a lot or a little—is not what we are doing, but why we are doing it. Our hearts should be committed to God and our efforts should be toward the end of building the Kingdom of God. So when we go above and beyond at work, our excellence is not to build our own name, but to exalt God’s name. When we save and when we spend, we do so toward the end of increasing the family of God and building God’s Kingdom.

Evening Reflection

Luke 12:16-26-31: And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Reflect on the passage above. Are there ways you’ve been foolish like the rich man in Jesus’ story? In what ways do worry or fear guide how you manage your earthly resources? In light of the passage below and all we’ve studied together today, how might God be encouraging you to adjust your perspective on your resources?  Spend time speaking with God about these things.

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