(Psalm 19:13, Numbers 14:42)
Pay your Own Way

Christians in some circles have gotten a well-earned reputation for NOT paying their bills. Among other disturbing reports, we have heard of Christian schools that cannot pay their teachers, because the parents are not paying tuition in a timely manner. These are often the same people who “trust God to provide” for them, and praise him when their needs are met. They need to wait on God’s provision and not rush ahead. “Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.” Numbers 14:42 (KJV). Buying things or services they cannot afford brings reproach to God’s name. God does provide, and we should rejoice and praise him whatever way he chooses to provide; but most often that way is by giving us the strength to work for what we need. Even as he spread the gospel of Jesus among the gentiles, Paul supported himself and others with his tent-making. (Acts 20:34-35.)

If you ask (or even hint) for something from a person, you should first be willing AND ABLE to pay the price. When someone gives favors, that is well and good; but when you ask or expect something from someone, it is not a favor, and you owe something for what you receive. We have had a pastor’s wife, whom we had just met, ask us to make something and give it to her, with no offer of payment. When you presume on an established relationship (family, friend, business associate, etc.), there is the implication that you are willing to reciprocate as needed. If there is no relationship (a stranger, or a new or distant acquaintance), asking someone to give you something or do something for you is presumptuous. It presumes that they have it, that they can spare it or are willing to do without for your sake, and that they care about you enough to do so. If they want to do this, Wonderful! Praise the Lord! But to ask without offering something in return is presumptuous. [1. too bold or forward; taking too much for granted; showing overconfidence, arrogance, or effrontery; taking liberties.]

“Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known UNTO GOD.” Philippians 4:6. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. He supplies us not according to what we lack, but according to his abundance. He delights in exceeding our expectations. God is our source. Not people. In order for him “to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,. . .” (Ephesians 3:20), we must look ONLY to him. He uses people to meet needs, and we must be willing to meet the needs of others as the Holy Spirit leads us, but not to get something in return or for a reward. We are to behave as if we are stewards or employees or servants or (as the Bible says) slaves, who own nothing themselves, but have all things provided by their employer to use, not as they choose, but as he directs. [steward - 2. one who acts as a supervisor or administrator, as of finances and property, for another…–Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language]. At the same time we should not expect others to meet our needs, but leave it in God’s hands.

Satan is able to provide wealth and honors for his followers also, as in Matthew 4, where he tempted Jesus after his baptism with the wealth and honor of the world; but Satan’s purpose is to feed our lust. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15.

Sometimes God does not supply what we think we need when we want it. When this happens, he has a purpose. Maybe there is a lesson for us to learn, or maybe he has something better a little further along the way. Sometimes he is trying to protect us from a problem or heartache later. Paul tells us, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:12.

When Christian fellowships ask unbelievers or strangers for money to fund their “Christian” projects, this does not honor God. What God ordains, he also provisions. Neither is he late. We need to ask what he wants us to do, not tell him what we think needs to be done. That is presumptuous! If we trust him, we must trust him in the hard times. That is where we learn what trust is. When the wherewithall does not come for something we want, it is time to rethink. Often when God gives our hearts a vision, we rush out to fulfill it in our own strength. Then, when the finances do not come, or people are not as enthusiastic as we thought they would be, we feel God has let us down. God does things decently and in order. He does not force or coerce anyone. He waits for them to be willing. When we wait on him and his timing, events and people line up in ways that leave us breathless and full of awe! When God provides for a project, that is the right time. God wants us to be mature and stable. He does not want us to be pushed to-and-fro by circumstances and emotions. If we truly believe in the father-heart of God, we will rest in his love, and in the knowledge that he will provide for our every need (not necessarily our wants); and we will not fret over what we do not have.

Our society is based on credit. Hock your future for present enjoyment. We have fallen into that trap, too; but now we are hearing God’s call to get out of debt. Live on what you have and save a little–for future needs and to help others. God meets the needs of his people through his people–through those whose ears are tuned to hear him, and whose hearts are touched to give, even out of their own need. EVEN THE INHERITANCE OF EVILDOERS COMES TO BELIEVERS WHO REST IN GOD. (Deuteronomy 4:38.)

Christians need to allow God to cleanse them of the standards and desires of the world. Then, he will give them the desires of their hearts (Psalms 37:4), because he has put the proper desires there. Then

… they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.

They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble, for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:21-24.

We love the mountain tops of abounding and blessing, but we need to remember that God wants us to be fruitful, and fruit grows in the valley where the fertilizer is–not on the mountain top. Do not presume on God’s goodness, but wait patiently for his provision. “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from great transgression.” Psalms 19:13.

May 31,1995

Trust him! He is trustworthy! Amen and amen.