May 5 | Daily Devotion

May 5 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a complete reading of the passage

Lectio Semi-continua: a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

God kept His promise to give King Solomon wisdom, as well as riches and fame, and the biblical writers weren’t shy about discussing his wealth and accomplishments. They described in effusive language the magnificence of the king’s reign. Solomon’s architectural achievements were impressive: the Temple of the Lord, the great wall of Jerusalem (some of which remains), and the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon (so named because it was reminiscent of entering a beautiful forest). His international trade relations brought imports from as far away as modern-day Turkey, Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula (home of the Queen of Sheba), and the far reaches of Africa (Ophir). Solomon was famous for his wisdom and his wealth. He was, in short, an international sensation.

Today’s reading raises the question of the proper attitude toward wealth and fame.   Many Christians, I have discovered, simply do not know what to do with this topic.   On the one hand, we have passages in Scripture that warn us about the dangers of wealth, and so some Christians take a very negative view of it (Mark 10:17-27, 1 Tim. 6:10-17). In the spirit of Francis of Assisi, who renounced the inheritance of his affluent father, some believe that less is more. And in extreme cases, people view poverty as the mark of a truly spiritual person. On the other hand, passages in Scripture speak of wealth as a gift from God to be enjoyed and used for good. For example, He delivered on His promise to bring Israel into a land flowing with milk and honey and large, flourishing cities (Deut. 6:3). Other biblical models include Job, Abraham, and of course our own Solomon, as well as the positive attitude toward wealth found in the book of Proverbs.

If we want to speak generally about a topic, or claim to have a biblical viewpoint on it, we have to read ALL that Scripture has to say about it. A survey of the Bible’s wisdom on wealth suggests several guiding principles. First, material blessings are gifts from God and they are to be enjoyed by His people. There is simply no getting around the biblical language on this. Not only is Solomon’s wealth spoken of in effusive terms, but the source of His wealth is clearly none other than God Himself.   In Scripture, even warnings about the dangers of wealth are balanced by reminders that it is good and something to be enjoyed, and often caution and suggestion are in the same passage! (Look at 1 Timothy 6:17 again.) Second, wealth has inherent dangers that we must be aware of. Even in small amounts, money can do strange things to the heart. The pursuit of it can turn a person away from God, the possession of it can create pride, and the maintaining of it (or the loss of it) can destroy a person’s life (1 Tim. 6:9). Third, all blessings, including wealth, should be used for good so that others may be helped and encouraged. Toward that end, I urge every person to make tithing an ironclad principle in their lives. Furthermore, I would plead with those who have been abundantly blessed to commit themselves to giving beyond the tithe for the good of others, and for their own good! Solomon enjoyed his wealth, but he also used it for the commonweal. Do not make the mistake of holding so tightly to the blessing of God that it becomes a curse.

Imagine what our churches and communities would look like if more people decided to let their blessings flow through their hands instead of just into them. Imagine if more people made these commitments: 1) I will give at least 10-percent of my income, and I will increase my offering as God increases my blessing; 2) I will be faithful in church attendance, even when I have the time and resources to be elsewhere; 3) I will seek out worthy causes and give my time and resources for the good of others; and 4) I will praise God every single day for His goodness, thereby living out the words of the worship song Blessed Be Your Name, “Every blessing you pour out, I turn back to praise.” May God’s blessing increase our worship and enjoyment of HIM!

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the Senior Pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.