In my life I have always tried to conduct myself with a high degree of integrity in any job that I have ever had and it has allowed me to do well in every job that I ever had. I was always open and honest with my intentions and with what I was doing. I gained trust and respect from my supervisors and would often times be chosen for advancement above my peers who had been in the job longer. I took pride in my work and wanted to know everything about my job as well as the jobs of those around me. I wanted to be someone that people could count on to do the right thing and to get the job done without having to worry about following up after.
I took great pride in all that I did and I put my trust in my hard work and abilities. This is not what God wants for our lives; I was worshipping myself and relying solely upon my own abilities. I was not following God; I had not yet put my trust in Him, and did not understand His economy. My work ethic aligned with what God would desire for us, but my motives were entirely wrong. God wants us to operate with integrity and honor because of who He is and to trust that He will provide. He does not want us to work every waking hour and to do everything that we can in our own power to succeed.
When we do our own thing we may build up riches for ourselves monetarily, but what about the riches in our lives? Galatians 5:22 says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When we put out trust and faith in God and follow His way with all of our hearts we receive the fruit of the Spirit in varying measure and increasing measure, but when we do it on our own we miss out on all that God has for us. When I did not put my trust in God and follow Him all that I had was self-pride to show for all of my hard work. Nothing I ever did was enough, I always wanted more, and I was anxious about having enough or losing it all.
Things started changing when I started following God and putting my trust in Him though. I still conducted myself in the same manner when it came to work, but my motivation was entirely different and my reward was entirely different as well. Sure I still fell into prideful actions at times and I am still prone to that because of my sin nature, but I no longer worry about having enough. God has shown up in miraculous ways to provide for me and my family. When I started putting my trust in Him and doing things properly He began showing me how He works.
When I first started going back to church I always tithed, but did not really understand what it was doing for me, because I had not been able to see the blessing. I was still operating the rest of my financial life by my own standards rather than God’s and it quickly all came tumbling down. I reached a point of having no money left and not knowing how I was going to pay my bills. I had no food, no gas, no money and I had two mortgage payments that I had to figure out how to pay even though I was making decent money.
So what changed in my life? Well I was broke in every way I could think of. My pride was broke, my bank account was broke, and my heart was broke as I saw everything that I had worked so hard to get was on the brink of being lost. I was broke and it broke me in my Spirit and brought me to my knees in one of the first truly submissive actions and prayers in my life. I fell to my knees and cried out to God to forgive me and to help me. I didn’t even know what I was doing, but I knew that nothing I was doing was working so out of an act of desperation and complete brokenness I cried out.
What happened next still astounds me to this day. God provided a way out by getting me offers on both of my houses that I had for sale within 24 hours. This was the first tangible moment of recognizing God’s power and love in my life. Looking back from this point I can see that He was always their protecting me, but this was the turning point in my life. I still had a lot in my life to fix to get to a place of being unburdened financially, but this was a start. I started tithing with a different heart after this and began trying to live life in a way that would honor God with my finances.
Within five years God would completely wipe out all of our debt, I got married during this time, and He has provided us with the security of knowing that He will always take care of us as long as we follow His lead. It has not been easy, but it has been worth it and we have been able to experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives through trusting in God. He has provided for us in ways that we could have never thought possible.
You see God does not rely on our abilities or talents to provide for us. He will use us with everything that we are willing to give Him and He will provide for us out of His bounty as we submit our lives to Him. It has taken us many lessons to get to where we are in our lives and I am certain that we still have a lot more to learn, but I know that God will always provide for us and take care of us.
Deuteronomy 6:10-13 says this,
The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name.
Up to this point the Israelites that Moses is speaking to had been pulled out of slavery and oppression in Egypt and had been brought through the dessert in wandering and were about to enter into the Promised Land. During all of this time God had led them through the wilderness testing them in order to prove their character to see if they would obey His commands. He fed them with manna from heaven. During all of this time their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not blister or swell (Deuteronomy 8:2-4).
Let’s put this a little further into perspective. During the census’ that were taken throughout the time of the Israelites in the dessert the number of males who were twenty years of age or older who were able to go out to war was roughly 600,000 people. These census’ are recorded in Exodus 12:37 and in Numbers 11:21, 1:45-46, and 26:51. These numbers did not count the women and children that were with them. Even if this number were only doubled to account for women and children the total number of people that God led to the Promised Land would have been 1.2 million people or the population of Dallas, Texas. The number of people was probably closer to 2-2.5 million people though which would mean that the amount of Israelites that God led was roughly the same amount of that of Houston, Texas or Chicago, Illinois.
God is able to provide in ways that we just do not understand and in ways that we cannot comprehend. Our work and efforts will never truly provide us with any security. Take a look at the Great Depression if you think otherwise. If the value of the dollar is nothing than it does not matter how much money or power you have because multiples of nothing always ends up producing nothing. We must never take for granted what we have now and we must not put our trust in our own abilities or possessions. The only thing that we can put our trust in is God who provides us with all that we need when we entrust our lives to Him and follow Him in all that we do.
God’s economy does not falter, unlike man’s economy. God’s promises never come up short, unlike man’s. The Word of God is unfailing and is trustworthy. It is the only thing that gives life and when it is trusted and follows the blessings that are reaped are more than anything we could ever obtain in our own power.
So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua made his choice, instructed the Israelites to make their choice, and we all have a choice to make today. Will you serve God or will you serve something else. We all serve something or someone, who will you choose to put your trust in and serve?