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“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

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When God Will Wait

February 5, 2011

You may have noticed - if you're a regular reader - I've had a bit of a schedule change. I used to write at night most of the time. Now - it's pretty much during the day. That presents some problems - because when I write at night, it's after I've taken care of everything that needed to be done during the day. Trying to write in the morning is hard - because other things want my time.

This morning was especially hard - because it's the first weekend of the month - bills to be paid - and after having been sick for two weeks, just things to catch up on. But - it was the bills and other financial stuff that kept me from being able to pay attention to writing something.

So - I did that other stuff first. And felt bad about it at first. Seems like God should come first.

Then - while I was doing the bills & stuff - I realized - even in that - He does come first.

I use Quicken - because it can download info from so many places - and it imports easily into turbo tax. But - we also use Crown Ministry's Money Map - because it has the best budget capability I've seen - and it includes God in the process. It takes more time than just paying things and not keeping track of anything except maybe whether we have any money left.

Money is an interesting topic for Christians. The Bible talks about money a lot - a whole lot. Many remember mostly the admonition from Jesus in Matthew 6:24 -

Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Things like that tend to give money a bad name.

But what about the Parable of the Talents - a little later in Matthew 25:14-30?

The Parable of the Talents

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The money - in and of itself - isn't bad.
It's what we do with it that can be bad.
And while most people would agree that doing the wrong things with it certainly qualifies as bad - how many realize that doing nothing - is also bad?

God expects us to do something with what He has given us - and that includes the financial resources that we have.

That third servant - who did nothing - is called lazy and worthless - had the little bit he was given taken away from him - and was thrown into the darkness.

OK - God wants us to do something with the financial resources - money - that He gives us.

Many of us think about tithing - giving to the poor - helping others.
And that would be correct.
As far as it goes.
But - there's more.

And that's where I was this morning - and why I'm writing about this topic now.

What struck me while I was going over our financial stuff this morning was the part of the Gospel where Jesus tells us that if someone has something against us - we should go and take care of that - first - even before making an offering to God at the altar.
God will wait for us to do this. And it's not just so that our mind won't be distracted - or various other things that may have something to do with us.
No - it's so that we won't cause anyone else to hold anything against us - so that we won't cause them to sin - because the key words were having
something against us.

Normally - I'd put up the verse first - then write about it. This time - I purposely am waiting. That's to show the importance that Jesus puts on this concept of not causing someone to maybe sin because we were the cause of something they hold against us.

Here's the full section from Matthew 5:21-26 -


Mt 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Mt 5:23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Mt 5:25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

OMG! Murder. That's where this is from!?

If we cause our brother to be angry with us - that brother will be subject to judgment.

So God is not only willing to wait for us to take care of the issue - He tells us to go and do it. Otherwise - the brother will be subject to judgment. Not to mention us. It's that important to God - He wants us to take care of these things first - then offer our gifts to Him.

To be honest - I forgot that this comes under murder. I've forgotten that before too. Seems like I'm always surprised by this. Maybe (??) this time I'll remember?

So - what's the big deal about paying bills?

We pay bills because we owe money to someone.

Not paying them - obviously is wrong because it's going back on a promise that we would in fact pay - but it has other consequences as well.

Turn the situation around.

Let's say someone owes us money. If we don't get paid back - we generally get upset - angry - whatever. I suspect none of us are filled with joy over not being paid back - few of us have no reaction at all. That person not paying us "causes" us to get upset.

Not that the reaction and emotion isn't ours - because it most certainly is. But the situation could have been avoided if the other person had given us what was owed. There's plenty of "blame" to go around - neither party is totally innocent - but it was an avoidable situation (unless something extraordinary happened to prevent the payment).

So - back to me paying bills. Or to "us" paying our own bills.

When we owe someone directly for something they did for us - or made for us - it's pretty straightforward and obvious. If we don't pay them - they know for sure that it is us that owes them money. And they're probably not too happy about it. Jesus is saying we are responsible for their reaction.

What about if we buy something from a large company? That one to one relationship isn't there. Does that mean we're "off the hook" - because we're not directly influencing someone if we don't pay for something - either not paying at all or not paying on time?
Sorry - that's not the case. If nothing else - by us not paying in a timely manner - and especially by not paying at all - we cause that company to raise prices just to cover the extra costs to the company related to us not paying. Indirectly - we have an impact on everyone who does actually pay - because they are the ones paying for the thing that we failed to pay for. Again - even paying late causes companies to raise prices, because they have bills to pay too.
How many times have we all complained about the high prices of various things? Part of that price goes for things like people who don't pay. So yes - even here - we have an impact on other people's reactions to what we've done - or failed to do.

So this morning - when I really wanted to write something - I couldn't. Because I felt like I needed to take care of the bills and our finances. Even though I had several different topics I wanted to write about - I couldn't focus on any of them.

Then the concept of what is in Matthew 5:23 came to me.

Mt 5:23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

God was telling me that He would wait - I had to take care of the other things first.

So I did. And He waited.

And then this article was the result of waiting.

I have to make a note for myself here -

"Come back and reread this article from time to time.
My impact on other people, by my inaction, is important.
It's important to them - and it's important to God."

And I think that's the key - it's important to others and to God.
There's a balance there. God wants to be the most important thing in our lives. Certainly more important than money. Even more important than other people. But not to the exclusion of others.

Staying with Matthew - in this case Matthew 22:34-40 -

The Greatest Commandment

Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

God is number one. And so is the way we treat other people. Because they are His people too - and because He tells us they are important.

So if we are doing things because that's what God wants from us - He will "wait" for us - because in doing them, we are honoring Him.

This morning then - instead of looking at paying bills and keeping track of our finances as a chore that needed to be accomplished - I looked at it as honoring God by doing the things that He wants us to do.

And the result was this article.

It was good for me - and like I said - something I need to go back and reread from time to time - because I generally do consider it a pain to do these things - and that does mean bills don't get paid as soon as they could - and from time are later than they should be. And that's not pleasing to God or honoring Him.