Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Poor, the Producers, and the Providers



This morning, the Lord began talking to me about three groups of people called owners, workers, and beggars, also called the providers, the producers, and the poor. This has to do with growing in God's blessing and provision.

THE POOR: BEGGARS
We'll start with the poor because we are all born beggars into this world. Babies cannot take care of themselves at all so every one of us was completely dependent on another human being when we were first born.

We were designed by our Creator to grow to a place of caring for ourselves, but some people do not for various reasons. Basically, it comes down to those who can't and those who won't. So within the beggar group are two subcategories called the can't's and the won'ts.

Cant's
The cant's are those who are unable to take care of themselves for whatever reason. It could be a physical or mental condition that prohibits them from working to provide for themselves. An example in Scripture would be the lame beggar at the gate called Beautiful. He was carried there every day so he could beg from the people entering the temple. He could not work to provide for himself. He was dependent on others to give to him. Read the story about him here in Acts 3.

A "can't" moves on from the beggar group if he matures out of it, such as a child who grows up, or if he has miraculous intervention such as the man at Gate Beautiful. Notice once he was healed, they called him the one who "used to" sit at the gate and beg. Once he was healed, he could work to provide for himself and was no longer dependent on others to take care of him.

Won'ts
The won'ts are those who are unwilling take care of themselves even though they are able. These people don't want to work to earn a legitimate living. They want, maybe even expect, others to care for them without them doing anything for themselves. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that he gave them this order, that if any man is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either. They are not to live as busybodies, or an undisciplined life of not working. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

A lazy person, or a sluggard, will not put proper effort into providing for himself. "The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, but will not even bring it back to his mouth." Proverbs 19:24

Moving On from Beggar to Worker: 

Ideally, the "can'ts" mature into following a worker path, not a "won't" path. It requires maturity and willingness, and sometimes a miracle. As a child grows in ability, skill and knowledge, and has a willing heart, he will come out of the beggar group and into the worker group. He may also begin to discover his gifting and call during this process. Parents play a huge role in this.

A "won't" can change his ways through repentance of his laziness and doing what is necessary to provide for himself.


THE PRODUCERS: WORKERS
The worker group is made up of those who begin to work to provide for themselves. Ideally, they are continuing to discover their gifts and planning to work in the field they are called.

Faithful Workers
All workers are exchanging time, effort and skill for money or provision of some type. This is an equal exchange at this point. Time for money, or time, education, skill, etc. for a salary. There comes a point where the faithfulness of a worker pays off. It really is a growth and testing period. It is the fruit-producing stage in more ways than one. Faithfulness, patience, discipline, integrity and so on are tested. The fruit of the Spirit is grown here. As a person remains diligent through the tough times in this stage, he will reap the benefits of his hard work.

The Lord promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on those who would not rob Him, but give the tithes and offerings that are due to Him. Not only that, but He will rebuke the devourer from destroying the work of our hands. Malachi 3:8-12

The Lord spoke through the prophet Haggai that when we neglect the Lord's house and do not build it, but take care of our own needs instead, then its like putting our money in a bag of holes. Haggai 1:2-11. When we seek His kingdom first, and His righteousness--or right ways of doing things--then all of our needs will be taken care of.  Matthew 6:25-34.

Jesus taught His disciples that how you act towards the "little things" is how you will act with the bigger things. If you are not faithful with another man's things, who will give you your own? Luke 16:10-13. A faithful worker will treat his bosses business and belongings as if they were his own.

Impatient Owers
What happens sometimes is that the impatience of a worker causes them to enter into a sub-category that is not God's best--owers. These are those who go into debt to try and get the better life that they want or need. They want, and may legitimately need, increase but are impatient or don't trust the ways of the Lord to bring it about, or seek Him for the answers. The problem with following this path, is that you are enslaving yourself to your lender.

"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave." Proverbs 22:7

Some people become discouraged in this group and either live miserably, or give up, even going back into the beggar group.

Moving On from Worker to Owner: 
Its worth noting that although some people may buckle down and work really hard to try and provide, which is commendable, hard work alone will not bring them into the best God has for them. To move from the worker group to the owner group requires vision, faith, and fruit. It also requires God's grace. We can come confidently to the throne of grace and obtain the mercy and grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16. When we have needs, the throne of grace is where we need to go.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;" 2 Corinthians 9:8

God's grace brings you into the place where you have "all sufficiency" or are self-sufficient, so you can have abundance for every good deed. As you are faithful in the tough times, cultivating the fruit of the Spirit in your life, you will move from the place of exchange into the place of multiplicative increase.


THE PROVIDERS: OWNERS
These are the ones who have something to give. They have proven they are willing to work for their provision with a good and faithful attitude. They trust in the Lord, knowing it's His grace that enables them to do all things. They are both willing and obedient. If you are willing to do things God's way, consenting to and obeying what He says, you will eat the good of the land. Isaiah 1:19-20

Cheerful Givers
These are those who have not only grown in the fruit, but learned the principles of sowing and reaping. They've learned about increase through multiplication, not just exchange.

The boy who gave five loaves of bread and two fish to Jesus so He could feed the multitude received twelve basketfuls in the end. John 6:1-14. He experienced multiplication, not just exchange. This is how the kingdom of heaven works--by the law of sowing and reaping.

The givers give to the poor. They don't just work to make money for themselves. Proverbs tells us that he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay them. Proverbs 19:17. The Bible also tells us that he who gives to the poor will never want. Proverbs 28:27. It seems as if this would mean the poor "can'ts" as opposed to the poor "won'ts" because of what Paul said about those who don't work should not eat either. However, he also said if one doesn't provide for his own household then he's worse than an infidel. 1 Timothy 5:8. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes to those who have been blessed and we should always seek the wisdom of the Lord.

Sometimes the givers might loan money, although the Lord told them not to charge interest to the poor or to His people. Exodus 22:25. Yet, He told the fearful servant who was given the one talent that he should have at least put it in the bank where he could have received interest rather than burying it in a hole. Matthew 25:14-29.

Greedy Loaners

These are those who have become "successful" themselves, but take advantage of others who need what they have. They charge a tremendous amount of interest and prey upon the impatient workers--tempting and inciting them to spend what they don't have, going into debt and becoming enslaved to them. These are those who have become "lovers of money." There are some who even fall from the faith as they have fallen in love with money. 1 Timothy 6:10-12. Jesus said you cannot serve God and wealth. Luke 16:13.

I hope this might help you identify where you might be, and be encouraged to know that God wants to bring a harvest into your life. There may be trying times to go through to get to that place, but don't give up. Stay true to Him and His Word and run to His throne of grace!