Free Money

Make Senseto believe every person has the freedom and right to foremost do what makes sense to them. This view is not biblically correct. It is wrong thinking, and smells like smoke because it is from the pit, Ezra 7:21-23; 31-32, Nehemiah 5:1-19, Proverbs 14:12; 16:25.

Ezra organized a group of perhaps 4,000 people (Ezra 8:1-20) to continue the work of beautifying the temple and instructing the people living in Jerusalem to sound thinking. The government leaders in Babylon, where Ezra lived, encouraged the Jerusalem work by giving him permission to make this trip. They also offered him access to the building materials he would need, Ezra 7:6-26. Additionally, the government returned to Ezra what remained of the previously captured items of gold, silver and bronze that would be needed to furnish the Temple when it was complete Ezra 7:19, 8:26-27. In short, the king and his government chose to be a great help to the Jews, and the hand of the Lord was upon Ezra, Ezra 7:6 9, 28; 8:18, 22, 31; Nehemiah 2:18, 18.

With much gold, silver and bronze now among the returning Jewish remnant, one could easily argue that it made sense for Ezra to ask the government for soldiers to protect them on their journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezra considered asking but chose not to ask, Ezra 8:22. He had already told the government officials their God would take care of them Ezra 7:6, 8:22. With several families now committed to the trip, Ezra divided the millions of dollars of gold, silver and bronze equally among twenty-four of the leading men travelling with him, Ezra 8:24.

Ezra, a person who studied, practiced and taught the Scriptures (in that order), understood one value of faith is intimacy with God now (Ezra 7:6-10), and the subsequent impact on a life foremost reliant upon the Lord. In preparation for the trip, Ezra had everyone planning to participate to humble themselves before the Lord through fasting and prayer. In doing so they acknowledged their submission and dependence upon the Lord as the place to start to understand how to make the trip, an activity they believed He wanted them to do, Ezra 8:21-23. Seeking and following God always makes better sense as the place to start for the believer than to start out placing your confidence upon the government – even for protection.

Four months later (Ezra 7:9), when Ezra and the families arrived in Jerusalem, the possessions entrusted to each man was weighed and counted. Nothing was missing, Ezra 8:33-34. While God certainly used the Babylonian government to help the Jews in many ways, Ezra always maintained his reliance upon God as was demonstrated in how he secured safe travel. Ezra did not assume that what makes sense circumstantially is ever the place to start when making a decision.

Fourteen years after Ezra’s trip, Nehemiah did accept military support when he travelled from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls around the city, Nehemiah 2:9. But did the decision making process of Nehemiah involve a different approach than Ezra’s? No, Nehemiah’s life was characterized by the same intimacy with God we read about in Ezra. Nehemiah spent time talking with God before he went to see the king, and again before he even answered the king. Upon learning of the distress of Jerusalem and the people living there, Nehemiah fasted and prayed to intercede for Jerusalem and the remnant living there. That was before he went to see the king about possibly helping the Jews, Nehemiah 1:4-11. Once before the king, Nehemiah was asked what his request was concerning Jerusalem and its people, Nehemiah 2:4. Before answering the king, Nehemiah prayed in humility to the Lord to understand what he was to say and do, Nehemiah 2:4.

Once in Jerusalem, Nehemiah continued his intimacy with God as the starting point for his decisions. He did not exercise his right as a government official (Nehemiah 1:11) to receive food supplements. Nehemiah, like Ezra, understood the starting point of faith is to trust in God to lead you into what you are to say and do, Nehemiah 5:9, 6:9. He trusted God to provide his food, and for the next twelve years the surplus at his table allowed more than 150 poorer people to eat with him, Nehemiah 5:1-19!

 

For further study

The following are real stories I have witnessed firsthand among Christendom trying to justify their actions towards the government according to what makes sense to them.

Business Sense

A man received a request from a believer who was planning to give some operating capital to another believer. The request was for the man to call the businessman who might receive the capital for his business, and ask him how he would use any infusion of new cash at this time. The capital was to be used to reset the company on solid ground financially, having recently lost nearly all assets through a failed partnership. All three people in this story attend worship as believers.

I can’t afford to do it any other way

The man had the conversation with the businessman, and the businessman told him how he would make the capital last three months. He spoke about of some the deals he would make with his regular employees to keep his costs down. The businessman wouldn’t give them 1099s nor employ them as regular employees so he and they can avoid paying the government taxes. He would pay for their housing directly and pay them cash to avoid being tracked. The man making the inquiry said to the businessman, “Whoa! That doesn’t honor the Lord.” The businessman replied, “But my accountant said it isn’t illegal.” “That’s not true if you pay them more than $600 annually, and besides, that is not the point. As a believer, you can’t do that,” the inquirer responded. “I can’t afford to do it any other way. The government doesn’t care. My accountant said it doesn’t matter. It’s all good on the bookkeeping,” the businessman replied in his effort to further excuse himself. “It is this kind of thinking and behavior that is one reason for the debt crisis we have in government,” the inquirer replied, continuing his tone of disagreement. “Well I understand, but that is how I have always operated,” said the businessman.

Family Sense

The grandfather, having attended church and a handful of Christian conferences for most of his adult life, told another man why it made sense for his grand daughter to live with her boyfriend rather than get married. The grandfather and the grand daughter in this story attend worship as believers.

She will not get the assistance she gets now

“She can get government assistance for her and the children if she keeps her household income low. If she gets married, the household income will go up, and she will not get the government assistance she gets now. The way the government system works, you can see why it makes sense to live together (and report the income separately).”

 

If you consider yourself a follower of the Jesus way – a Christian – the way of God’s economy doesn’t start with what makes sense to you, nor what is legally right, or with what you think is due to you – even if it means free money from the government. In the context I have just written about, to do what makes sense is the same as not trusting Jesus. That kind of life is just another struggle against God’s best adventure for you, and never the same thing as trusting in (towards) the Lord!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *