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Redistribution of wealth

By Jim Killebrew

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[December 17, 2013]  Over the past four or five years, we have heard a lot about redistribution of wealth. On the political scene of the American landscape, the president has talked about those who have wealth sharing it with those who do not have it. The talking points have focused on those whose wealth has been earned or furnished through other means and the life of privilege it brings. The promise has been to tap into that "upper" percentage of people with means and "return" it to its "rightful" owners: those in working America who have carried the heavy load.

On a political note, one can argue the merits of a "Robin Hood"-type of government that will "take" from the rich and "give" to the poor, but in reality even the so-called poor in America are wealthy by comparison with billions of others in countries around the world.

Nevertheless, our relativity in America allows us to compare ourselves with our neighbor. We can look at our "things" and then look at his "things" and compare what we have with what he has. So we surmise that relative to others, we have less than some and more than others. We argue regarding who is wealthy and who is not. Most Americans can count themselves as "poor" when compared with corporate giants like Bill Gates, George Soros or even a professional ballplayer with a $100 million contract over four or five years. But in reality, most Americans have enough. Not as much as they want, but usually enough.

My dad used to tell me the story of Standard Oil baron John D. Rockefeller, who would toss a dime to the paperboy on the street and admonish him to "Save your dimes boy; they make dollars." For sure, Mr. Rockefeller had plenty of dimes, and dollars too. But poor as we were when I was growing up  without a car, walking where we went; grandmother, sister and I in the same bedroom of a two-bedroom house, with mom, dad and sister in the second bedroom, and brother on a cot in the dining room  as I remember, we still had enough.

The historical Bible gives us a different vantage from our current tax-and-overspend viewpoint. Solomon wrote in Proverbs:

"Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine."  Proverbs 3:9-10 (NKJV)

When God breathed into Solomon's heart the inspiration to write these words, the word "honor" was written. This is an imperative that actually functions as a command. We can think of this not just as words written by Solomon, but the very word of God that speaks to us in the form of a command to honor the LORD.

Why would we want to honor God anyway? God is all-powerful, all-loving and full of grace. The Bible records that God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) So our response to God's great love for us is that we honor Him. Solomon said in Proverbs that one way we honor Him is with our possessions.

In our society, we have been taught that we give money when we "go to church." For sure, a collection is taken and our local congregations usually live according to some sort of budget so that property can be maintained and bills can be paid. But when we are standing in the full shadow of God's grace, we realize that everything we have, including our own lives, belongs to God the Creator. To honor God with our possessions is to take stock of everything we have and consecrate it to God with His blessing and use it for our neighbor (fellowman), and then give God all the glory and praise.

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It really does not stop with that either. When we work every day or accumulate money or possessions as each month and year passes, the process of yielding ourselves to God and honoring Him with our possessions is a constant thing. Solomon used the word that is translated "first fruits" as a means for informing us that giving merely of our possessions is not enough; we are to honor God with the "best" of what we have, our "first" earnings. We take from the top of our possessions, not from what we have left over. By taking the first part of all we have and giving it over to the honor of God by helping others who are truly in need, we truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Now, as is usually the case, God gives us a command to honor Him with the very best of our possessions, and with it comes a promise that He will do something, too. In our society we grow callous with so-called televangelists sometimes acting as carnival barkers trying to lure us into sending them money to receive the blessings of God. God calls us to a higher order, however. When God says to honor Him with our possessions, it is not because he needs to add an addition to His mansion in heaven or make another payment on a celestial Rolls-Royce. It is because He wants us to yield to Him completely and to willingly honor Him and worship Him so that He can bestow upon us the richest blessings without measure. By yielding to Him and allowing Him to work through us, He feeds the hungry world through us; He lifts the downtrodden through us; He shares His love for the lost through us.

There is something that I think the "religious" world does not understand. That is that no amount of work we do will "earn" anything for us from God. God has already given us everything we need, and in Him, everything we desire. When we give our best possessions to honor Him, we are allowing Him to work His power through us in such a way as to redistribute the wealth to those who are in need.

God's promise to us is to replenish our wealth. When we yield ourselves and our possessions to His honor, His miraculous power is ignited and He regenerates our wealth, not for us to accumulate, but to replenish so we can continue to give.

If our nation would turn to the command that God has given us to honor Him with our possessions so they can be used by Him through us to help those in need, there would never be any need for the president or anyone else to establish policies or make speeches about our need to "redistribute wealth in America."


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