Cap's Corner: How do we live for God?

by Cap McIlnay

Luke’s gospel, like the other three gospels, points out several truths. But today, I want to focus on just one.

The gospel of Luke is relentless in its concern for the faithful stewardship of goods. Again and again, we are given parables by Jesus that enforce this truth. If your theology gives you the belief that everything you have was given to you by God – and I suspect most Christians would say this – then one must ask the question: “What does God want me to do with what He has given me?”

Let us take, for example, the air in your lungs. If your theology states that even the very air in our lungs is a gift from God, we must ask: How do we use that air for God? Do we use that air to tear other people down? Yes, we all have done this. Do we use that air to use God’s name in vain? Yes, we have done that as well. Do we use that air in ways that God would not condone? Yes, yes, and yes.

What would our lives be like if we constantly remembered that the air we breathe and use to speak was a gift from God? Would we be less likely to use that air for things that we know that our beloved Father would disapprove of? Yes. Would we be more likely to use that air to speak words of love, encouragement, and respect to each other? Yes.

If all of us truly did try to keep in mind that something as basic as the air we breathe was a gift from God, what a world that would be! Wouldn’t we all be a lot nicer? Think about the parable of the talents in Matthew. The master of the household had to leave, and he gave talents (a large sum of money) to some of his servants. When he came back, he was delighted and rewarded the servants who had used those talents to increase the master’s worth. If the air God gave us was viewed by God as one of the talents He gave us, how would you be judged by our Master in how you used that air? Have you used your words to increase God’s worth in other people’s lives? Do you speak life into others, or do you speak death? Do you speak love into others, or do you speak hate?

God gives air to all of us equally. It is there for all of us, and we can all share in it equally – no matter what our social or economic status is. Air is readily available for all of us. But what if we look at something that is not given out equally, such as wealth?

Now that I am talking about wealth, I am sure there will be some out there who say, “God didn’t give me wealth. I earned it. I worked for it.”
Let’s address that first. How did you work for it? Did you work for that wealth with the very hands that God gave you? Did you earn that wealth with the brain that God gave you? Who was it that gave you the strength, the intelligence, and the drive to work so hard for your wealth? It always is – and always was – God.
Now that we are all on the same page here, how should people use the wealth that they earned using the gifts that God gave them? Well, the answer really is no different than it was for air.

If you look at every dollar you have with the knowledge that the dollar is a gift from God, and that He will be asking for an account of how you spent all of His gifts, ask yourself: “How will I spend this dollar?”
God does not want you to live a miserable life because you spend everything you have helping others; He also does not want you to live a life of greed and gluttony. Somewhere between those lines is where God wants you to be. Just how much do you need? That is a question everyone who has wealth needs to figure out between themselves and God.

I have heard many people express that our community is a mission field, and they seek others from far away to come here and help. There is nothing wrong with that, but what are we doing? What are we Christians living in this community doing to help relieve the suffering of those right next to us?

Having money is not a sin. Being wealthy is not a sin; it is a responsibility. What we do – or don’t do – with these gifts from God is where the sin or the blessing is. Now, I am only talking about Christians here. Wealthy non-Christians can use their wealth any ways they see fit, because they do not believe that what they have is a gift from God. I hope and pray they would use it to help the suffering of others, but I certainly could not judge them based on something that I believe and they do not.

What if everyone in our community who is able would skip a meal once a week and take that money to the Associated Charities or some other organization that helps people? When you’re out buying clothes, what if you bought a little extra to give to those that don’t have decent clothes? When you’re shopping for food, what if you bought some and gave it to someone in need?

What if we all started to do just a little bit more with the gifts that God has given us to do so much more? This is the inconvenient truth: Loving your neighbors as yourself is an inconvenience.