We are almost at the end of the week. Today was the penultimate day of New Horizon 2011. The sun even made an appearance, brightening up what has been one of the toughest New Horizon weeks, weather-wise. Despite the weather, the event has been well attended and many have enjoyed and benefitted from what has been happening.
There was a report back from the children’s and youth work. Every year, in various parts of the campus, teams work hard to care for and teach children, from the youngest through to teenagers.
The evening’s mission slot featured Bible translation, with a powerfully moving video of a group of people in a remote part of Indonesia receiving the first ever copies of the New Testament in their language. The Bibles were flown in in a small plane and presented to community leaders. One of the men quietened the people and led a prayer where he praised God who had ordained that their language would be one that would carry his word. Just as Simeon held the promise of God in his hands when he held Jesus in the temple, so these leaders felt that they held what God had promised them.
There were tears. Both on screen and in the tent.
Vaughan Roberts’ theme from Proverbs this evening was money. Most of the book of Proverbs is a collection of pithy sayings arranged laid out, as someone put it, like a buffet of hors d’oeuvres. What Proverbs has to say about money is one way of helping us in important self-reflection as we find ourselves at a time of recession, following years of economic growth which have fuelled our society’s materialism and consumerism.
We need to remember that the proverbs in the book are not intended as promises or laws; they are general observations of how life is. They are not arranged in an obvious order (which presents a challenge to preachers); and they are not quick fixes. We want quick fixes, but Proverbs is more like a bag of boiled sweets than a box of chocolates that can be quickly gobbled.
- How to view money. It is not evil. In fact, it is useful, bringing certain advantages – facilitating a measure of friendship or influence or even security. But is has limitations because it does not last. Riches sprout wings and fly off into the sky. The wise realise that relationships – with God, and with others – and righteousness are more important.
- How to make money. The most common advice in Proverbs is to work hard. Get rich schemes are likely not to bring lasting wealth, but we want the pleasure of having wealth without the pain of getting it. We must also avoid debt and live godly.
- How to use money. Wesley used to talk about earning as much as possible, saving as much as possible and giving as much as possible. We need to spend cautiously (avoid impulse), save prudently and give generously.
As ever, Vaughan closed his message by connecting us to the gospel. God sent his Son who had all the riches of heaven at his disposal. He became poor that we could be rich. Realising the wealth we have in Christ enables us to hold material things loosely.