Most of us are too young to remember the stock market crash in 1929. But some do, and some others remember the hardships that followed for the next decade. Most of us, however, have heard or read of some Wall Street moguls who committed suicide by throwing themselves out of windows rather than face the economic devastation that they had worked all their lives to avoid. What drove “normal,” rational men to do such a thing? It was the realization that all their hope and security, all that they had loved and devoted themselves to, their lives and their religion had been destroyed. Such an attitude was not unique to the United States of the “Roarin’ Twenties”; on the contrary, it is inherent to human nature. In fact, it is a defining characteristic of the natural man. Luke reminds us that “all these things do the nations of the world seek after” (Lk. 12:30).
Interesting—and sobering—is it not, that we often make a virtue of vice? For while it is true that we are instructed to provide for our own (I Tim. 5:8), that holy expectation involves an entirely different set of motives (though the activities and even the results may often overlap) for believers. To provide for our own is an expression of faith and obedience, not of fear or greed. The worldling seeks to acquire wealth because he loves riches and what they can purchase, whether stuff, or position, prominence, power, prestige, comfort, or a sense of security. The believer seeks to care for his own as an act of faith—believing that God has told him to do so and trusting the Lord ultimately to take care of him—and of obedience—doing what God has commanded for the very reason that God has commanded it. Again, the actions and even the results of each in many instances might be nearly identical but they spring from entirely different desires and objectives.
Luke characterizes the distinction between the two motives with the use of one little verb: seek. Yes, the believer is to engage in employment and to save for the future when possible and as permissible. But even while engaged in such endeavors there is something he must avoid: “And seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful [“unsettled”] mind” (Lk. 29). The heart of a believer (and consequently his endeavors) is to be focused on doing God’s will (a portion of which entails earning a living), but he is not to seek those natural things. The Lord will undoubtedly see that he acquires things, but the believer is not to be acquisitive. For such is the nature of the carnal man. It is enough for the believer to know that his heavenly “Father knoweth” that he “has need of these things” (v. 30).
Now, it is easy to write these words and, perhaps, even to understand the distinction intellectually, but actually to practice them faithfully is a rare commodity. But the fact that such an attitude is rare offers no excuse to you or me to live our lives in the vain pursuit of stuff. The Lord’s instructions to His disciples were: “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupt. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (vv. 33, 34). We have seen recently what a thief the stock market can be, what a thief a failed business can be. Our Lord’s call here (as made clear in the epistles to the church) is not so much a call to take vows of poverty as it is a call to live as what we are, servants of God, making our lives—all we are and all we have—His and His alone to do with as He sees fit. Our hearts, along with our treasure, are to be anchored in heaven, resting in the promise that He will provide for us temporally as He sees fit and realizing that that provision is to be distributed generously by us.
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