Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2.16-17
This week we looked at the story of the Rich Young Ruler, the man who was not willing to part with His possessions in order to follow Christ. The take away for us is: God cares about our wallet; we all struggle with love of money because it offers us a chance to believe we can solve our own problems; money gives us the chance to worship God; where we spend our money leads our heart (we are transformed by what we invest in). All of this leads up to the inevitable question: what does it look like to use our money for God’s glory and our sanctification? I think 1 Peter 2 gives us a good structure to think through this.
The list above appears after Peter makes it clear to us that: you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (9). The following is his description of how we should live in the world (and allocate our resources) in order to reveal His goodness, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people (15). What should we do?
HONOR EVERYONE | live for the good of people rather than for yourself. Use your money to serve others and make their lives fuller and more complete. This may mean helping them to see beauty in a new way or it may mean working against brokenness, but either way it is an outward focused action that will help to uproot our self-centeredness and help us to truly see other people.
LOVE THE BROTHERHOOD | act for the unity of the church. Galatians 6.10 tells us:
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
We have a general call to others but a specific call to those of shared faith that God has called us into community with. While there should be a willingness to share with those outside of the church, there should be an extreme openhandedness with those in our church family. In this the church becomes a counter-cultural light, revealing the power of the God who unites us; in each of us, it develops a shared identity as we suffer and rejoice together.
FEAR GOD | spend to make God known. To fear God is not just to be afraid of Him, but to recognize His sovereignty (complete control of all things). The way we live this out is by making Him known through how we budget our money. Do we trust Him? Do we rely on Him? Does the way we spend reveal that we trust (love, value) God or money? This verse begins: Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. To find freedom in your finances is not to have more to spend, but to be confident in how you spend what you already have.
HONOR THE EMPEROR | be a citizen of this world. Churches often teach that you are not a citizen of this world, but of another, and this becomes an excuse to not care for the world we live in. The gospel does not allow us this conclusion. While this is not our final home, this is our home for now; we should live and spend to make this world a reflection of God. We may not be able to sway the tide, but our part is to be a force for God in this world (Jeremiah 29.5-7 is a good example of this). This is a reminder to us of the gift of grace, but it also helps us to see this world as a good to be cultivated. It is broken, to be sure, but it will one day be new and perfect and we can live and spend with that in mind.