Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Luke 5:27-32; Philippians 4:14-23; Psalm 127; 1 Chronicles 13-14
Life in many parts of the world today is one of busyness. The standard answer to, ‘How are you?’, seems to be ‘Busy!’ We rush around, feeling we need to do more and more, wishing we had more time to do other things. Behind it all we are thinking that if we don’t do more, we won’t be able to cope. There is a sense of control within this which sits well with our pride.
To such a life, Psalm 127 is a timely corrective. In some of the most important areas of life – building, security, and family – the psalmist reminds us that we labour in vain when we go it alone. As we build our houses and careers, installing alarms and protecting our reputations, getting up early for work or lying awake at night worrying, who do we think is in control? Us, or the Lord? No matter how hard we work at something, if God is not behind it, we labour in vain.
Philippians 4:19 contains the key principle: God will meet all our needs according to his glory. This is not saying that he will give us everything we want. What we need in order to bring glory to God, he will provide. When Jesus called Levi, he left everything and followed him (Luke 5:28). He trusted that God would take care of what he needed. When our bills are mounting, our income cut, the future looking totally out of control, where do we go? Back to ourselves to frantically try something else? Or onto our knees to look for guidance from the Lord?
Depending on God does not mean doing nothing. Jesus, Paul, David and others lived very busy lives, but they lived in dependence on the Lord and he blessed their activity. This means acting knowing that God is directing and empowering us. This implies we have been seeking his guidance and direction, which includes his biblical guidance and that received in prayer.
Psalm 127 seems to switch halfway to a different topic, that of children, However, the two halves are closely linked. The word translated ‘house’ (v. 1) also means ‘home’. We need to depend on God as we seek to build a family. When we have children, we should thank God and not feel like we deserve or have earned the blessing of children. Many others struggle with infertility. Today, a bewildering array of technologies is available which raise many ethical issues, especially when used to control traits in the resulting children. Yet none of these guarantees a child. All have low success rates. Rather than constantly going from one technique to another, there can be peace knowing that God promises to meet our needs. For some, this may lead to the children. For others, this may be help coping with the grief and loss of not having children. Paul’s promise is given in the context of learning to be content in plenty or in want (Philippians 4:12). Without this, life can become a frustrating (and costly) pursuit of the next technological fix. In contrast, the Lord offers sleep (and contentment) to those he loves.