“Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things
as ye have; for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee,
neither will I in any wise forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
MEN think that money gives safety and security. Our secure salvation, however, depends on the death on the cross of the Man who was stripped of everything as He hung there. At Calvary was anyone thinking about money? Did money play any part at all in the work of salvation? Emphatically No! “We were redeemed from our vain manner of life, not with silver or gold …” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Could our Saviour have accomplished more if He had possessed more money? The question is so absurd that it needs no answer. The greatest thing that was ever done was done without the least help from money. The Lord Jesus did not have silver or gold and never asked for them. He was never dependent upon earthly wealth — and so His priceless work has never depreciated in value. [61/62]
The Lord’s Servants
No-one accomplished more for the Lord than His apostles and their co-workers, but do we ever hear them asking for economic support? Not even once! It is clear that they did not carry out their great work with the help of gold and silver but by the sacrifice of their own lives. A work of spiritual significance can, by its own nature, never depend upon something so unspiritual as money. What it needs is not so much money as those who will follow in the footsteps of their Lord, prepared to lose everything for His sake.
If we ask then how did they get their daily bread, we must also ask if He who had taught them to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ would forget to answer the very prayer He had instructed them to pray?
In Paul’s case the prayer was sometimes answered by his working as a tentmaker and earning his keep. Should he then be disqualified as a ‘full-time worker’? Could he have accomplished more if he had been what we call a ‘full-time worker’? Again the answer must surely be No! So far as the other apostles were concerned, it seems that humanly speaking they lived from hand to mouth — “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6) — but they never lacked what they needed. He who had Himself said that He would never fail them was alive to implement His assurances.
We might argue that when we have money in the bank we can better concentrate on spiritual work without anxiety, but the apostles did not look at life like that. I do not imagine that they desired earthly security. They had such an intimate relationship with the Lord that they could truly say, “If I only have Thee, I desire nothing on earth besides” (Psalm 73:25 Danish ) and they could say it because they meant it. So often had they experienced that the Lord was their Helper, and would not for the world be without such rich experiences. What is more, they knew that the security which is given by money is false; a safety which disappears just when we need it most is quite illusory.
Their View of Service
This attitude towards money surely sprang from the fact that they always kept their eyes on the cross of Christ. There, without human support of any kind, He had completed the wonderful work of their eternal security. Since the apparent foolishness displayed there for all the world to see was really the supreme wisdom of God, they realised that human wisdom and clever considerations have no part in the work of God, but, on the contrary, are a hindrance to it.
The thought that their service was dependent upon money or that they could accomplish more for the Lord if they were richer never occurred to them. No-one can accomplish more for God than to follow Christ, and mere money can never help him to do that. On the other hand, they did not regard their independence of money as some great accomplishment of faith, but just as their privilege. They were content to complete their mission as what Jesus had described as lambs among wolves, and were content to count all things as loss in comparison with the heavenly riches of knowing Christ and walking with Him. Such service was, and still is, incomprehensible to the natural mind. Humanly speaking it rests on the most uncertain basis imaginable, without any support, but yet it worked in a living way then and still works today.
Those Who Have Money
There are, then, those who own nothing and yet make many rich. This is nothing to boast of, as we have said, for it is a privilege given to them by the Lord, so that they must never be jealous of those who have money and nor must they think of despising them. Clearly there were those in the early churches who were rich in gold and silver, because this was the specific will of God for them. Were their riches an advantage to them? Not in the eyes of the apostles, but nevertheless since the Lord had so called them, then they were told to regard their wealth as a responsibility committed to them and act accordingly. The important thing was, and still is, that no love of money should creep into their hearts.
God’s servants who are poor must never feel that all other preachers should live exactly like them. God has given us varying degrees of faith, that there should be no competition between ministers of the Word as though some have more faith than others. Money can never play any part in service or testimony. Those who have none, praise the Lord who will never leave nor forsake them, and those who have money and a sure income also praise God that they do not have to build their lives or their services on any material [62/63] foundation, but on the unfailing God. So God’s people are united in an unremitting life of thanksgiving to Him who does all things well.
God’s Promise of Security
During the last few days I have visited some old friends who are about to take leave of life down here. In any case money would be no use to them; their security is in Christ. As I said goodbye to one of them, she said in a quiet and dignified way, ‘This is the last time you will see me down here.’ She was so frail and strengthless that a puff of wind might have swept her away, but she was completely content and confident. I learn more by visiting such saints who have lived a modest and contented life with the Lord than I do from hundreds of theological books. With good courage such folk seem to say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what shall man do unto me?” and they find the answer to this question in the personal promise of the Lord who Himself has said to them, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”. And never means never! He is the only one who can use such language and who can truly keep such a promise.
When Did God So Speak?
These words take us back into the past in an enquiry as to when the Lord made this promise. Well, He certainly made it to Joshua when he had to replace Moses and face the impossible task of leading the people over the Jordan and into the promised land, where hard conflicts awaited them (Joshua 1:5). And He kept His promise. Never for one moment did the Lord leave Joshua, and so it was that the people all came through seemingly hopeless impossibilities.
This was plain speaking, but yet there is a place where God makes the matter even plainer so that it cannot be contradicted. We must go in spirit to Calvary and consider again the suffering Saviour’s cry: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”. We are the ones who ought to have been god-forsaken, but it was Christ who suffered in that way for our sins, and so provided a salvation of eternal security for all who trust in Him. It is the same Lord who cried out at being forsaken who guarantees that this will never happen to His own.
One of those who had every reason to fear that the Lord would forsake him was Simon Peter who denied his Lord and Master with oaths. Why should not the Lord Jesus also deny Peter and turn His back upon him? Had He done so, no-one — least of all Peter himself — could raise any objections. He had written off his Lord. Mercifully His Lord had not written him off.
When we despair of ourselves, we may be inclined to fear that the Lord will cast us off and have nothing more to do with us, but Peter’s experience can surely comfort us. If anyone who reads this is just about to give up, then remember that the Lord has no intention of giving you up. He will never fail you and never forsake you, however wretched you may feel. Like Peter, a man may go down so far into a night of darkness that he can no longer hold fast to the Lord, but he himself will be held fast by the love that will not let him go. No-one and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Because of the Lord’s sure promise we can answer boldly that He is our helper. We can never be wrong when we make this statement and because of its content it can only be said with boldness. There can be no better helper, for nothing can hinder Him. This can be the basis of our sense of security, right to our last breath. Since He gives us this absolute guarantee, then we do not need the security to be complemented with the security given by money, for that would virtually be saying that the security which the Lord gives is not always sufficient.
The logical corollary is “I will not fear”. If you realise that the Lord will never leave you nor fail you but remain your helper in every situation, then the obvious consequence is that you have nothing and no-one to fear, and that really there is no room for anxiety. Sometimes it may seem that the rich or the powerful can do you evil, dismiss you from your job if you maintain your witness for the Lord and refuse to be involved in deception. They may generally threaten you, but they cannot harm you for the Lord is also their Lord, whether they accept it or not. Their gold and their silver belong ultimately to Him, whether they understand this or not. The Lord never forsakes nor fails you when men are against you; He does not cease helping you when men turn against you. On the contrary, it is in such situations that you gain especially rich experiences of His goodness. Only in His will is real security. [63/64]