To be honest, growing up in a fairly wealthy country, I've always felt conflicted about the tension between the dangers of materialism on one side, and the embarrassment of possessions on the other - considering that by most of the standards in the world me and my family are already living a pretty wealthy life (even though my grandparents and parents were refuges that had literally nothing left after WW2).
So the question has been for me, how can I actually receive and enjoy ABBA's abundance and the 'treasures stored up in Heaven' when I am feelings so tense about these issues, let alone be a blessing to others? And I am not just talking about money here - which is just one expression of DIVINE ABUNDANCE.
After all, JESUS taught a lot about the focus of our time and energy, as these examples show:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)
In the light of these teachings, let’s consider Paul’s counsel to one of his friends in the ministry:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
While this seems to be straight forward at first glance, it's interesting that this immediately speaks right into the tension I was mentioning earlier, so I immediately draw a line between material/physical and spiritual growth - which is based on the lie of separation that triggers my orphan anxiety.
Note what Paul - as a Jewish rabbi - describes instead as being 'rich towards God' when it comes to people who are financially well off. Rather than condemning their success, playing the orphan game of envy and competition, he encourages them in their identity and commands them to act generously like their FATHER – which is the foundation of the age to come. And this is exactly what the farmer in JESUS' parable, who stored up riches for himself was missing.
Thus it seems reasonable to me to conclude, that we are called to steward our ABBA’s abundance according to the context and circumstances we find ourselves in. Not in a, “aren’t-I-blessed-to-live-in-a-rich-country-well-I’m-a-King’s-kid-and-deserve-it-anyway” mentality (which again is just the orphan mind getting into religious triumphalism), but as an expression of DIVINE LOVE – rather than guilt and shame driven religious observance. (If we remember, everyone will cast down their crowns anyway, which I know from experience is only possible when we’ve actually experienced and know our ABBA’s generosity – which makes any comparison and competition look ridicules.)
In other words, it is first of all about becoming good receivers of our ABBA’s abundance – “unless you become like little children…” – which involves healing and the resolving of the aforementioned tension - and then JESUS had a lot to say about how we invest this abundance – our time and energy (of which money also is just a physical expression). But that’s for another time…