Did you know that the Kingdom of God has system of finances that operates significantly differently from the financial system our world uses?
It’s true. Not only is that financial system of the Kingdom different, but it works much better than the world’s system too. Though I guess that should come as no surprise, right? After all God’s ways are so much higher than man’s ways.
Two Financial Systems
It’s well worth the effort and time to look at these two systems and learn how they are different from one another. Because in fact they are so different they are nearly polar opposites from each other.
Oh, and if you happen to be thinking that how things work in the Kingdom of God is only for after we step into eternity and isn’t applicable to us here today in this life, remember how Jesus taught us to pray.
This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. — Matthew 6:9-10
Part of our role as believers is to help bring the Kingdom of God here into the world around us. Since finances pretty much touch everything that happens in our lives, it’s vital that we have a Kingdom perspective there too.
Now here are some ways the two financial systems are different from one another.
Cursed vs. Blessed
The world’s system is cursed and under the power of Satan. It goes back to the fall in the Garden of Eden. Listen to what God said to Adam.
And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” — Genesis 3:17-19
That’s a pretty serious curse which makes everything in the world hard to accomplish. Things are hard to get done there because everything we do there is actively resisted. Complications and distractions constantly rise up against us to slow us down and drag us off course.
Contrast that path of difficulty and hard work with the many blessings listed in the first part of Deuteronomy chapter 28. For example:
The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. — Deuteronomy 28:11-12
In the Kingdom of God, his people are blessed. Not only is there less resistance inside the heavenly system, but people working in that system are so blessed that they end up blessing others as well.
Buying and Selling vs Giving and Receiving
In the earth cursed system things are transferred between people via buying and selling. The price is set based on how both sides value what is being transferred. Unless that price is paid, there isn’t a sale.
In contrast the Kingdom of God works on a system of giving and receiving. We see Paul commend the church in Philippi for operating this way.
Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. — Philippians 4:15
Typically we see a whole lot of teaching in the Christian world about giving, but there tends to be very little taught on receiving. As a result there can be some personal pride where receiving is concerned because people tend to think it’s only the needy or people who work in ministry who receive.
Yet receiving is part of giving. When we don’t allow ourselves to receive gracefully we prevent others from being blessed in their giving to us. It’s robbing others of their blessing.
At the other extreme we see some people who take advantage of the generosity of others. These folks tend to manipulate the emotions and sympathies of others trying to convince those they are manipulating into giving more. When we bring coercion into the mix then it stops being receiving and becomes taking instead.
(As a purely personal aside, that’s why I don’t like it when even well meaning pastors talk about “taking up an offering.” Really they are receiving the offering, not taking it. But that’s just me.)
Striving vs Resting
As we see in that passage from Genesis 3 above, the world’s cursed system involves a whole lot of striving and hard unpleasant ineffective effort.
You probably see people working within the earth cursed system all the time. They are constantly trying to make things happen. Folks like this have a tendency to maneuver and manipulate in their efforts to control the outcome of whatever situation they are in. This approach is particularly obvious in high pressure sales tactics and manipulative offering talks.
The Bible describes this in Ecclesiastes.
For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. — Ecclesiastes 2:22-23
Contrast that worldly striving to Jesus telling us about how it should be when we follow him.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus also said that when we seek first the Kingdom of God, then all the stuff people in the world chase after will be added to us anyway (Matt 6:33). So we no longer have to strive to get ahead. Now we can rest in the finished work of Jesus.
Listen to this promise:
And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God. — Deuteronomy 28:2
Because Jesus obeyed God perfectly and because we are now in him we are now legally entitled to all those blessings in the first part of Deuteronomy chapter 28 as if we fulfilled the law ourselves. Blessings should overtake us. We don’t have to go out and toil or strive to receive them. When we believe, blessings chase us down.
We can set aside the worry about how things are going to work out because the results are God’s responsibility, not ours. It’s a whole lot more restful to do only those things we hear from God because when we’re following his plan then he’s the one responsible for the results, not us.
Lack vs Abundance
The world’s system is based on lack. In that system there is always a limited amount of resources, and scarcity helps set the value of something. The cursed worldly economy runs on supply and demand. The more in demand something is, the higher price someone can get for selling that thing. Some businesses even put extra effort into creating and maintaining artificial scarcity of their products so that they can get a higher price for each sale.
The earth cursed system is like a pie. There is only so much of it and if I take some then there is less left for you to have. That leads to greed where people try to get as much of the pie as they can. And it also leads to envy where people look at those who have a lot of pie as bad people, “no one really needs that much pie!”
In contrast the heavenly system is based on abundance. God is extravagant and blesses his children far over and above what they need so that they can in turn be a blessing to others. John said it this way:
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. — John 1:16
In the Kingdom of God we don’t receive because of our need or lack. Instead we receive because of God’s overwhelming abundance. One of the names of God is El Shaddai, which speaks of his abundant provision for us. In fact, Jesus said that what we give away will be given back to us so that it overflows our capacity to receive it (Luke 6:38).
If the Kingdom of God is like a pie then it’s like an ever expanding pie that constantly gets bigger and bigger. There it doesn’t matter what size slice of pie I take because it in no way reduces the amount of pie available for you to have from God’s extravagant supply. In the Kingdom of God there is no lack, only abundance.
Fear of Loss vs Generosity
The world’s economy is driven by a fear of loss. We’re told to “save for a rainy day” because even if times are good now, bad times are probably just around the corner. Hoarding is not uncommon, because you just never know what might go wrong and it’s best to be prepared.
Jesus told a parable with an example of this.
Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” — Luke 12:16-21
We see people like that farmer all the time. Whenever something good happens and they see a good harvest they stock pile it up for later. Please know there is nothing wrong with saving. But when saving is driven by a fear of loss, that is an indicator that our hearts are being motivated by the world’s cursed system instead of by the Kingdom of God.
In contrast the Kingdom of God is powered by generosity. And why wouldn’t a Kingdom minded person be generous when God is blessing us out of his abundance?
Not only that, but God promises to return to us that which we give a way out of compassion.
He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given. — Proverbs 19:17
When you know God is going to get it back to you anyway it is so much easier to be generous. Our generosity is part of our godly character as believers.
Needs Based vs Faith Based
The world tends to respond to need and route resources based on how much they are needed. In the marketplace it’s referred to as how much something is “in demand.” If there is a huge need, or demand, for a product or service then it most likely can be sold profitably.
Need is also how many benevolent charities allocate resources too. In fact many charities are created solely to serve “the needy” in their communities.
Now before I go on, please hear me. It is an excellent thing that we each have compassion and help others in their times of need. All of us as believers should participate in helping those less well off than ourselves. There are several times in the New Testament where people are praised specifically for assisting those in need. So what I’m about to say does not in any way mean that giving to those in need is a bad thing or improper for us to do today.
That said, the Kingdom of God does not respond on the basis of our need. Instead God responds on the basis of faith. Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus healing people and performing miracles. Most times Jesus explicitly ties the healing to the faith of the person being healed. Other times it was Jesus’ own faith that accomplished the miracle.
Yet we don’t see Jesus responding to needs. For example Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recount the encounter between Jesus and a woman who had some sort of long term bleeding disorder that had been going on for 12 years. At that encounter people were thronging all round Jesus. There were potentially hundreds of people there with needs. However, as far as we know, she was the only one healed then. And it’s true, she had a great need. However in all three Gospels Jesus explicitly states that it was the lady’s faith that made her well, not her need.
When Jesus encountered the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, John 5:3 clearly states that there was great many sick people there. The need for healing there was huge. But Jesus only healed one man there, so it wasn’t need that prompted that miracle.
Both Mark and Luke tell about a time when Jesus was teaching in a house and the crowd was so big that some guys couldn’t get their paralyzed friend to Jesus so he could be healed. So they decided to cut a hole in the roof and lower a stretcher with their friend down to Jesus. Both accounts say that Jesus responded to their faith.
There are so many examples of this throughout the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. Where the world responds primarily to need, the system in the Kingdom of God responds to faith.
Poverty vs Prosperity
All of these factors add up to two completely different results. The world’s cursed financial system with it’s striving, buying and selling, based on lack and fear of loss, and driven by needs is designed to keep people in poverty.
Left on their own weak and poor people suffer. Even rich and abusive people often gain their wealth through abuse and by taking it from the poor.
In contrast, the faith powered financial system in the Kingdom of God, based on generosity and abundance, as we rest in God’s blessings and participate in giving and receiving, is designed to promote prosperity for those who participate in it.
God’s children are not on their own because Jesus is always with us and the Holy Spirit is within us. God’s abundant resources are always available to us. We just need to learn how to receive them effectively.
Entering Kingdom Life
Unfortunately one of the big challenges in the Church today, and for believers in general, is that we are mostly ignorant in how the Kingdom of God operates outside of a few specific areas. Even when believers see the problems with how the world does things often the best they can do is avoid participating in the world’s approaches.
However there is a huge difference between not doing things the world’s way and entering into Kingdom life. We can be believers destined for Heaven but still not see the Kingdom of God operating in our lives.
In two different places Paul says that people who indulge in sinful activity will “not inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10, Galatians 5:21) In both instances Paul is encouraging believers to live according to their new nature in Christ. So I don’t think those verses mean that people who live like the world are unsaved and will not enter into Heaven.
Instead what Paul is getting at is that there is a whole different system in the Kingdom of God. But those who continue to live like the world, conforming to the world’s systems, won’t get to experience the benefits of that Kingdom system in this life here and now.
Fortunately, because as believers we all have the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the ability to change what we believe, conform our beliefs to the truth of God’s word, exercise our faith, and switch from the world’s systems into those of the Kingdom of God.
When we make that switch to God’s systems, we then experience the blessings he put in place for us before time began. God is waiting for us to inherit what he set aside for us. We just have to learn the ways of the Kingdom and step into them.