9 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10 or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.
Living in what we call the developed or “free” world, this concept is difficult for us to follow. We have grown accustomed to providing for ourselves, taking care of our own, and storing up for ourselves reserves so we don’t have to rely upon anyone else in times of need, even God. Yet as Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount, God not only takes care of all our needs, but He wants to take care of us. Like any decent parent, He does His best to provide for His children. Our problem, however, is that we would rather do it on our own to prove our own self-sufficiency and refuse God’s help. That is, of course, until we have no choice but to rely upon Him.
Being what some might call a “career missionary,” my wife and I have had to grow accustomed to relying upon others for things such as food, housing, and clothing. We even have to rely upon the support of God through others for simple ministry needs. It was a difficult transition for us to go from making our own way and having more than what was ultimately necessary for survival to 100% trusting in God to provide what we need to live and do our jobs.
When we are making more than is necessary for survival, it is easy for us to say we depend upon God. It is easy to praise Him for His goodness but unfortunately, our hearts deceive us because our happiness and trust in God only extends as far as we are provided for. I constantly try to think about the story of Job and wonder if I would continue to praise God even if He took everything away from me. Read the beginning of this story and consider what Satan says to God:
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. 2 Seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” 12 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.
Job was completely wealthy with family, land, cattle, and all that a man could want and more. God knew Job’s heart (clearly Satan didn’t) and so Satan scoffed at God’s comment and God allowed Satan to test Job. As the story unfolds, Job loses his house, his family, his wife mocks him and his best friends curse him and his God because they depended on God’s provisions for happiness, not God’s presence in their lives. When we have a deep relationship with God, we don’t need the “stuff,” because we know that all we need is Him. Upon what hangs your happiness and joy?