What we have is a direct result of what we do with what God has gifted to us. In other words, have you ever noticed that the “portion” or “inheritance” that God gave Israel was not money but land? It wasn’t food, it was the opportunity to grow or raise food.
This is a prime example of why it is so important to cooperate with God’s design for the world. We are so far removed from the elemental truths of God’s design that we wonder why we need to be different than the carnal world, blissfully (or so we think) unaware of the harm that we are bringing upon ourselves and our children by ignoring the basic principles that God has woven into the fabric of the universe.
We wonder why it is wrong to go out to eat so often…if I can afford it, why not? All the while forgetting that God said, “If you do not work, you do not eat.” What was the message here? While we may be cognizant of the fact that we worked hard to earn the money required to pay for this meal, what lesson are we teaching our children when we are fed food that we didn’t prepare with our own hands several times a week?
We cease from our labors on a regular basis, every evening we spend several hours not working, before we finally head off to our actual night’s rest. Then we wonder why the Sabbath is so difficult to honor, and why it doesn’t really feel any different than the rest of our week.
We are to imitate God. This includes creating. Six days a week, we should be laboring to create something, then on the seventh we ought to cease creating, and simply rest.
There are common sayings that reflect ancient wisdom, but which we have ignored because we are so far removed from the circumstances that they were birthed from. Have you ever wondered why Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise?”
God designed our universe, and He described for us how to flourish in it. He promised to provide us with everything we need, but He also warned us not to think in our hearts, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.” This ought to teach us that God knew we would be tempted to think that is was by our efforts that we experience food, shelter and clothing. However, the reality is that we take each breath at the whim of our Creator. We have land to grow food, or a job to earn money at the behest of our Sovereign Lord. Our hand grips a plow, or our fingers strike a keyboard because He enables it. Therefore, “When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.”
It is for this reason that God said, “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.” Deuteronomy 8:1 (NKJV)
The commandments are the principles upon which the universe operates, it is only in our best interest to cooperate with them rather than ignore or worse yet struggle against them. By cooperating (heeding) God’s commandments we will live and multiply, and make use of the “land” (job, talents, etc.) that God swore to us (see also Matthew 6:25-34).
What I am discovering is that as I seek to obey God’s commands, He is revealing to me the “reasons” behind His gracious plan. I’m discovering why it is important to live a self-disciplined life. I would have been much better off if I had simply heeded fully the advice of my parents, but they didn’t tell me why the things they tried to teach me were important, and unfortunately, I’m one of those kinds of people that can be thick-skulled and obstinate at times.
So here’s my suggestion. Seek to obey, seek to understand, and don’t forget to teach your children, why obeying God’s commands make sense. Explain why (in the big picture) we don’t go out to eat 5 times a week, even if we can “afford” to. And honestly, can you really afford to waste money that way, or did God bless you with that extra cash in order that you might provide for someone else without such over-abundance? Show (and tell) your children that we eat as a result of the labors of our hands.
It all goes back to this issue of balance that I keep talking about. God designed an entire universe for us to benefit from, but we must be responsible to use His delights in moderation, otherwise we mess up the balance, and He knows much better than we what a multitude of areas that effects. I’m just beginning to grasp this…may He teach me further, and may He suffer me to teach my children in such a way that they will learn much sooner than did I.