“Money isn’t everything,” said Zig Ziglar, “but it ranks right up there with oxygen.” Spiritual good intentions aside, it’s rather hard to live in this world without money. True, it’s not an end in itself, but it’s certainly an indispensable means to an end – whatever that ‘end’ may be in your particular life and circumstances.
It’s your attitude toward money that determines how much of it you get and are able to keep – not the circumstances of your birth, the quality of your education, or the size of your pay packet. If you have a negative attitude toward money, viewing it as an evil and soul-corrupting force, I can assure you of one thing: it will stay away from you in truckloads!
Let me remind you that the Bible says the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil – not money itself! (1 Tim. 6:10). And what’s more, you can love it, even if you don’t have much of it! Outward appearances are not necessarily indicative of inner values. For example, I’ve met more than a few skinny gluttons in my travels!
At the other end of the spectrum, I encounter people who seem to think that money is going to mysteriously drop out of heaven and land in their bank account! Their watchword is: “the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous”. When I ask them to describe precisely how the wealth of the wicked is going to be transferred into their hands, they just stare at me with a blank expression, shrug, and say, “God will do it by his Spirit … supernaturally … miraculously.” Perhaps it’s going to happen by osmosis – one night they’ll go to bed flat broke, and the next morning they’ll discover that someone has kindly deposited a million dollars in their bank account! Praise the Lord! (Was that a pig that just flew past the window?)
I’ve discovered that money does indeed ‘grow on trees’. It grows on the tree of knowledge and action, not the tree of ignorance and apathy. I’ve also discovered that created wealth is better than inherited wealth. And the principal way God transfers the balance of wealth in the world, from the wicked to the righteous, is through entrepreneurship – in other words, Christian believers getting ideas from the Spirit of God, starting businesses, inventing new technologies, marketing new products and services, adding value to people’s lives, and in the process making lots of money!
Moses admonished the people of Israel to “remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power (capacity or ability) to get (produce) wealth” (Deut. 8:19). Moses did not say that God would make the Israelites wealthy; he said that God would give the Israelites the opportunity and the ability to make themselves wealthy! Likewise, God reminded Joshua that the onus was on him to make his own way prosperous by meditating in the Book of the Law day and night and observing to do according to all that was written in it (Josh. 1:8).
The wilderness to the promised land: Moving from a consumption based economy to a production based economy!
When God brought Israel into the promised land, he switched them from a consumption-based economy to a production-based economy. For forty years they had been the beneficiaries of heavenly welfare – free heating and cooling, a supernatural clothing allowance, and meals delivered by express courier six days a week. They just had to remember to gather twice the quantity of manna on Fridays, because God’s kitchen was closed on Shabbat.
Let me ask you: what does forty years of welfare do to a person? It destroys self-worth; it cripples creativity; it reinforces attitudes of self-pity and resentment; and it entrenches behavioural patterns of learned helplessness. Why did God subsidize these people for so long? Because they would have died if he had disconnected the life-support system, and he needed to sustain them until the next generation was mature enough to possess the land.
Remember, they had been slaves in Egypt, and even though God had delivered them spectacularly from the tyranny of the Pharaoh, they still had the mindset of slaves – a poverty mentality, a ‘world owes me something’ attitude, a victim syndrome. They were prone to negativism, pessimism, cynicism, defeatism, criticism, and every other ‘ism’ you could think of. The Bible says that they could not enter the land because of unbelief (Heb. 3:19).
A new land required a new attitude, a new way of thinking, a new lifestyle. In particular, it required an entrepreneurial spirit, because there were not going to be anymore ‘free lunches’. From this point on their prosperity would be determined by their productivity. Or to put it another way, their wealth would be inextricably linked to the land – contingent on a lifestyle of sowing and reaping.
Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year (Josh. 5:10-12).
For this reason, Moses spent the last month of his life admonishing the new generation of Israelites that were about to cross the Jordan to “obey the commandments, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers” (Deut. 8:1). Even though the land was ‘flowing with milk and honey’, they were still going to have to milk the cows and rob the bees! Even though the land was pulsating with potential abundance, they were still going to have to pick the grapes and tend the vines, plant the wheat and thresh the grain, and dig the copper out of the hills (Deut. 8:7-9).
“The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you … And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain in your land in it season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, and you shall not borrow” (Deut. 28:8,11-12)
The promise was clear and unequivocal: “God will bless all the work of your hand” – but if the people didn’t work, if they didn’t set their hand to something, there would be nothing for God to bless! The apostle Paul put it this way: “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Indeed, everything in life is based on the law of sowing and reaping, giving and receiving, investment and return. After the great flood, God told Noah that sowing and reaping, or ‘seedtime and harvest’, would be one of the four governing principles of human existence (Gen. 8:22).
God’s instruction to Joshua to “be strong and very courageous, and dare to do…” can be interpreted as a call to entrepreneurialism. As much as we like to spiritualise this passage of scripture, it is, after all, a command to go in and literally possess a land, which of course presented Joshua with a plethora of social and commercial challenges. And to meet these challenges, he had to think and act creatively, in partnership with the Spirit of God.
Entrepreneurialism in a time of crisis
The story of Isaac also demonstrates the importance of entrepreneurialism in a time of crisis. The Bible says that there was a famine (read economic downturn or recession) in the land, and the Lord appeared to Isaac and commanded him, “Do not go down to Egypt … dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father” (Gen. 26:1-3).
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundred-fold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him (Gen. 26:12-14).
Notice that Isaac was proactive when everyone around him was reactive. Isaac was bullish when everyone around him was bearish. When everyone else saw danger and potential ruin, Isaac saw great opportunity and potential reward. When everyone else was pulling back, Isaac was pushing forward.
This story demonstrates the importance of sowing good seed in prepared ground, regardless of what other people are saying or doing, and regardless of the prevailing economic climate. It demonstrates the importance of cultivating a ‘contrarian’ state of mind, based on the word of God and the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and of not going with the herd and being caught up in a stampede of fear or greed.
It also shows the importance of not allowing other people, through their limited beliefs and negative experiences, to determine your level of success. If Isaac had listened to his Philistine neighbours, he wouldn’t have taken a risk; he wouldn’t have started a business in the midst of a recession; he wouldn’t have sown seed in a time of drought and famine!
My message to you is, “Set your own level in God. Determine your own destiny by listening to the voice of the Spirit. Do all that is in your heart for God is with you. There will never be a better time than now. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Arise, and shine, and let the glory of the Lord be seen upon you!”
Whatever that seed is – a new business start-up; a new product launch; a new ministry outreach; a new career path; the implementation of an inspirational idea; the first faltering steps toward the fulfilment of a cherished dream – sow it with all your heart and soul, and see what God will do!
For as it is written: “One sows and another waters, but God will give the increase!”