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October 1, 2011

Kingdom Economics...

The economics of God’s kingdom are vastly different that the economics of this world.

The economics of our world are based on the self-focused desire for self-preservation and, if possible, advancement—regardless of the cost to others.  Our current tax code, with the allowance for deductions, has turned even charity into a means of personal profit.  The economics of our world asks, “What’s in it for me?”

Thinking about economics and God’s kingdom Psalm 24:1 declares, “The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are His.”  That’s a different perspective on economics.  Isn’t it?  No matter how much we try to accumulate, ultimately it all belongs to God—even our very lives.

That’s one reason why Jesus can point to a flock of birds and say, “Your Father in heaven takes care of them!  Aren’t you worth much more than birds?”  Or, looking at a field of beautiful flowers, Jesus asked, “Won’t He [God] be all the more sure to clothe you?”  (Matthew 6:25-34 GNB)  God declares that each one of us is valuable to Him.  So valuable, in fact, that God chooses to care for us by providing for all of our needs (Romans 5:8).

That’s one reason why Jesus can make such radical statements like, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25,26 TNLT)

The economics of God’s kingdom aren’t based on what we accumulate for ourselves but what we surrender to God that we might be followers of Jesus.  Surrender our lives to God and we gain everything He desires to bless us with.  And God’s blessing is vastly greater in value than anything this world’s shaky and temporal economics can provide for us.

Interestingly, the word “economics” has its root in the same Greek word we get “stewardship” from.  A steward is someone who manages someone else’s affairs (i.e. money, property).  Ultimately, whatever we have (time, talent, treasure—life itself) is entrusted to us by God to be used according to His purposes.

That’s one reason why Jesus can challenge His followers, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24 ESV).  A cross is an instrument of torture and death.  Painful.  Yes.  But certainly a way to lose our lives in following Jesus.

For 21 years Edith Moules pioneered missionary work with lepers in Africa.  Sharing about what God taught her as she learned to give up her life while following Jesus, Edith said, “I had to learn that God enlarges our capacity, not only our soul’s capacity, but our mental capacity, and our organizational abilities.  He enlarges the whole man, as we are willing, deeply willing, to go the way of the cross.  Very often we say we cannot do a thing, simply because we lack the faith and are afraid of launching out.  Only God can teach us to step out on the water and walk on it.” (1)

Kingdom Economics:  Surrender our lives to God and He gives to us everything we need.  Surrender our lives to God and He uses us to steward His resources in ways and means that go far beyond what we can imagine.  Surrender our lives to God and He gives to us life in the fullest now and forever.

Sometimes when we start talking about “economics” and “stewardship” its easy to assume that the issues are about giving more of our time, talent, and treasure.  But thinking about kingdom economics and stewardship the bottom line is really our hearts.  To the degree our heart is surrendered to God is the degree of freedom we will have to allow God to use us (and everything else God has entrusted to us) according to His purposes.

Economics is really about trust.  Will we trust the economics of this world and our own abilities or will we trust God who is the source of our lives?  May we learn to live surrendered to God, trusting Him at the core of who we are, that we will know His blessing and be useful as His stewards.

1. “Mighty Through God—The Life of Edith Moules,” Norman Grubb  Lutterworth Press, London, 1951