A Closer Walk
This time of year, here in the good old USA, is known as "Tax Season". Our federal government, as well as our state and local governments, require us to settle up with them by April 15th. So every year we get all our documents and receipts in order so that we can do as we are required. But this is also a good time to take a look at last years spending accomplishments, and do a review of our personal stewardship, in the little corner of God's Kingdom that is entrusted to us. For example: how much did we save and invest? How much did we give? How much did we provide for missions and missionaries? How much did we offer to our local community in some form or fashion? We could ask ourselves, is the Kingdom of God built up this year because of our efforts last year?
To gain some perspective on where we stand in this world here are some thoughts from Randy Alcorn's book “Money, Possessions, and Eternity”. He says statistics show that people who have enough food to keep hunger at bay, have clothes that are decent, live in a dwelling that mostly keeps the weather out, and possess some means of transportation that's reasonably reliable, are in the top 15% of the world's wealthy. Further, anyone who has any savings, a variety of clothes, two cars in any condition, and live in a home that you own, are in the top 5% of the world's wealthy. Whoa! What? Yes, compared to the rest of planet earth we are exceedingly blessed. Many of us may take three meals a day and a warm bed for granted. But it is good that we recognize that Almighty God has blessed us abundantly, especially compared to the rest of the world.
"In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy," 1 Corinthians 4:2 NASB. What is a steward? In modern terminology we might call this person a business manager. This is the person who has authority over, and responsibility for, the entire estate or kingdom of their Master or King. Old Testament leader Joseph is an outstanding example of a good steward. He had authority over the entire country of ancient Egypt. Under Joseph's leadership Egypt was saved from a famine. In fact people were coming from other countries because they heard Egypt had grain.
How did Joseph save the Egyptians from a famine that lasted seven years? Recorded for us in Genesis chapter 41, Joseph interpreted a dream of his Pharaoh. This dream was of seven fat cows being eaten by seven lean and gaunt cows. Also, seven ears which were full and good were eaten by seven withered and thin ears. Joseph explained that the seven fat cows and seven good ears were revealing a seven year abundance that was coming. The seven lean cows and seven withered ears were telling of a seven year famine which would follow the abundance. “It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do. Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will ravage the land. So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe,” Genesis 41:28-31 NASB.
Joseph's prescription for overcoming the predicted famine? “And now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance,” Genesis 41:34 NASB. The Pharaoh selected Joseph. “Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?' So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are'...And Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'See I have set you over all the land of Egypt',” Genesis 41:38-39 and 40 NASB.
Joseph setting aside one fifth of everything the land produced could be an example for us. Also, if we find ourselves with an abundance, we might do well to remember Joseph and the ancient Egyptians. After all, there could be a “famine” of our own is in our future and our Lord is making provision for us with our abundance.