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An “Overspiritualized” Bailout

November 10th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 8: 18-21 (NLT)

 18 I have riches and honor,
      as well as enduring wealth and justice.
19 My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold,
      my wages better than sterling silver!
20 I walk in righteousness,
      in paths of justice.
21 Those who love me inherit wealth.
      I will fill their treasuries.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Sometimes, it’s nothing less than astounding how a certain passage of scripture is just the remedy we need at our point of greatest need.  Our nation . . . and our world, for that matter . . . are in a state of financial panic.  The stock market over the past two weeks took one of the steepest dives in modern history.  Just a few days ago, the statistics were released that the unemployment rate has now reached 6.5%, the highest level in almost fifteen years.  Just consider this: in the month of October alone, 240,000 people lost their jobs.  

That’s almost a quarter of a million.  Moms.  Dads.  Brothers.  Uncles.  Sons.  Daughters.  Us.

Just in my immediate circle of friends and family, I know several people individually dealing with the loss of a job and the inability to find another.  All across our nation, people are worried and in many cases, fearful that the economic crisis will only worsen.  Who would have thought that in the middle of one of the most controversial military conflicts our nation has ever been involved in that the economy would end up being the most crucial issue of the recent presidential election.  This is a telling sign of our nation’s concern over finances.

Each of us face the challenges in our own individual way.  Some worry themselves right into ulcers and headaches.  Some withdraw every cent they have in a bank and bury it in a coffee can in the back yard. Some eat out less while others carpool to conserve transportation funds.  Others simply turn the channel, and their heads, and just hope that everything works out as it always does.

I’m “that” guy that many people dread talking to about these kind of issues because I always seem to have something spiritual to say.  You know, too “heavenly minded for earthly good” or something like that.  (By the way, contrary to some popular belief, that particular expression is not found in scripture).  Sometimes we use the term, “overspiritualize.”  I find myself prefacing my statements with, “I really don’t want to overspiritualize things, but  . . . “

Overspiritualize?  What does that mean anyway?  A few years ago, I began to realize that perhaps my particular pre-statement apology was a bit foolish.  Why?  Because I truly believe that everything we face on earth is connected to spiritual truth.  As my wise pastor, Andrew Wharton, always says, “All truth is God’s truth.”  That means that whether or not you cite God or not; if it’s true, it’s His.  The atheist shakes a fist at a God who literally created that fist.  He curses the heavens with the very breath given to Him by the One who dwells there.  Truth doesn’t just exist when we discover it; it always exists.  The change isn’t in the truth, it’s in our awareness of it.  Thus, I now find it difficult these days to “overspiritualize” things since I believe that I am a spiritual being.

Money issues are probably the most difficult topics for people to equate to spirituality.  Why?  Because money is a reflection of all things tangible.  Our money purchases housing, food, clothing, transportation, communication, and every other aspect of daily living all the way down to luxury items.  Money is necessary for living.  But if that is true, shouldn’t our faith play a role in our financial lives more than ever?  Don’t we want a God who is most involved in the affairs of our daily living?

Unfortunately, we often do not.  In fact, there seems to be the greatest disparity between our grounded faith and our grounded feet when it comes to finances.  In other words, we are most likely to not look like Christ when matters of money are at the forefront.  We dismiss our actions with the phrase, “well, that’s just business.”  There is some truth there, I suppose, and I certainly am speaking as one who often makes the very mistakes in question.  However, passages like these lead me to believe that if there is any place that our spiritual existence should most greatly intersect our physical lives, it’s money.

Therefore, consider this a humble voice speaking an unexpected message to a generation worried by the financial forecast.  First of all, I share your worry.  Secondly, though, I encourage you with the truth of God’s Word about money: He “fills the treasuries” of those who seek Him and His wisdom.  Wow, now that’s some bailout plan!

However, lest we misinterpret such a passage as justification to be greedy, let’s take a look at the other things that we can “cash in on” from God’s massive wealth.  Honor.  Justice.  Righteousness.  Wow, those sound like pretty . . . well . . . spiritual things.  Take out those tasty spiritual ingredients and this passage is nothing but a financial seminar.  Yeah, the spiritual makes it good.  Iron Chef America, here I come!

Instead, like every other area of life, truth is found when we search for it’s Author.  This passage says that those who “love me will inherit wealth.”  Wealth certainly means earthly riches; but we mustn’t overlook the other aforementioned “overspiritualized” benefits as well.  Spiritual plus physical equals real wealth.  And lastly, the term “inherit” creates the context of a family relationship.  No one receives an inheritance from a stranger; no, inheritances are only given to family.

There is no greater comfort in uncertain times than to know that we’re in a family with a limitless inheritance gracefully distributed to each us by a limitless Father.


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