It occurred to me recently that I’ve had far more training at our church in various classes and recommendations from the pulpit on how to make my money work for me to secure my future, than training in how to make that money effectively serve the poor and needy in my community.

Our financial training materials emphasize “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” The primary thrust has always been “provide for your future,” not “serve the Kingdom with your wealth.” Yes, Dave Ramsey says we can do more for charity if we’re financially secure – but the emphasis is always about securing our own future and building wealth.

This fascinates me, because we’ve been so careful to teach about the orphan mentality: self provision, self protection, self promotion. It seems to me we might have been blind to an important point about self provision.

Lately I’ve been musing deeply about Jesus’ story in Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats at the end of the age, and how so many well-meaning people will find themselves wondering how they ended up going away into eternal punishment, when they thought they were doing His will. And in Matthew 7 Jesus says “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” Interesting that Jesus ties lawlessness with failing to do good to the hungry and sick and stranger and naked and imprisoned.

Maybe we’ve missed the mark.

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