Social security has become a major concern in many countries today. The need for such security is real, but we need to look at it from the standpoint of Scripture. The key is to employ faith—in lending freely, giving to the poor, casting our bread on the waters in many places. In so doing, we are sowing to the future when we may find ourselves in need.
It’s good to be with you again. We’re continuing with the theme that we’ve been studying for the past two weeks: Where to Find Security. Yesterday I spoke about financial security and, in particular, security of investment.
I pointed that they’re two completely different areas in which we may decide to invest. The first is the temporal or the temporary, human enterprises and organizations, governments and systems, which is where most people think of investing.
But there’s an alternative that many people hardly thing about, the eternal. Invest in the kingdom of God. That’s the advice of Jesus. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all the other things you need will be added to you.” So you do what God recommends; God accepts responsibility for you in return. And Jesus says, “Your investments will never perish. There’ll never be a time when the system you’re investing will collapse and you’ll lose your investment. It’s guaranteed.” So that’s the Bible’s plan of investment.
Today I’m going to deal with another aspect of financial and material security: one which I Call God’s Social Security. The concept of social security provided by government for it’s citizens has become an accepted social feature of most social systems in the Western world. In fact today, people talk about cradle to grave security. The concept is that you pay in taxes to the government, and other contributions, considerable sums of money out of what you’ve earned, out of what you’ve produced by your work, and in turn the government accepts responsibility for you in time of need. If you’re sick, if you’re out of work, and when you get past the age where you’re able to work, then that’s called social security.
Unfortunately, that social security is already being steadily eroded by inflation and there are many senior citizens today who’ve invested in the government, but they’re not getting an adequate return for their investment to support them in comfort and in honor in their old age. That’s just one example of the insecurity of investing in a human system. I’m not opposing Social Security, I’m simply saying that it’s security is strictly limited.
The need for such security is real. Let’s face that. But God offers it to us on a different basis. The basis on which God offers us security is very simple, it’s spiritual, it’s faith. Faith that works by love. Let me say that again because this is the real true basis of security, in financial and material things. It’s faith in God, faith in His Word, and faith that’s expressed in acts of love toward God and toward those whom God puts in our pathway to help. In Psalm 112, the psalmist gives us a picture of the righteousness man by God’s standards, according to scripture. I want to read some verses from that psalm and point out the emphasis there is really on doing good to the poor and helping those in need. This is an essential part of the Bible’s picture of righteousness. Unfortunately, I think it’s dropped out of the thinking of many contemporary Christians and churches but it’s never dropped out of the Bible. So I’m going to read out of Psalm 112, some of the verses, not all of them (Psalm 112:1-3, 5-6, 8-9):
“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands. His children will be mighty in the land; each generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and His righteousness endures forever. [All that’s part of the product of the fear of the Lord.] Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. [Being generous and lending freely is a part of biblical righteousness. Surely he will never be shaken; [because he’s investing in the kingdom that can never be shaken, by his acts of mercy. Surely he will never be shaken. A righteous man will be remembered forever. His heart is secure, [that’s deep, inner, permanent security.] His heart is secure he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.” (NIV)
Notice again the direct connection between righteousness and giving to the poor. Because this man has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness will endure forever, and God will take total responsibility for that man’s well-being. The emphasis is on generosity, lending and giving.
Now, let’s look at what the book of Proverbs tells us and this is just one out of many such passages in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 19:17:
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given to the poor, the Lord will pay him again.” (KJV)
That’s very important. When we give to the poor, with right motives, with faith that works by love, we’re giving to the poor but we’re lending to the Lord. And the Bible guarantees that what we’ve lent to the Lord, the Lord will pay us back. And I want to tell you, on the basis of both observation and personal experience, the Lord pays very high rates of interest on what we lend to Him when we give to the poor. So bear that in mind, helping the poor, is lending to the Lord.
And then, in the book of Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2, we have this advice:
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster will come upon the land.” (NIV)
Notice, this is a way ordained in scripture to prepare for possible disaster in the future. Now, it’s not the way that most people in this world would think of preparing. It says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, give freely and let the waters take it away, because after many days you will find it again.”
Oh, I’ve seen this true in my life, time and time again. I’ve done something, an act of mercy, I’ve helped somebody, and when I’ve forgotten all about it, ten or twenty years later, God lets that bread come back to me on the waters. And I’ve received the benefit of what I’ve given to others. And then, the next verse: “give portions to seven, yes to eight.” Seven really is the fulfillment of all your duties but eight is just going a little bit further than duty. “For you do not know what disaster will come upon the land.” In other words, giving to the poor and others in need is, as it were, paying God’s Social Security tax. And when you pay your Social Security to God, there’s no inflation in the kingdom of heaven. You’ll get back what you need, when you need it. If you should be sick, if you’re in old age, if you’re in some other situation of need, you can just lift your heart to heaven and say to the Lord, “Lord, I have given to the poor, I’ve cast my bread upon the waters. Now I’m in need, I just remind you the promises of your word.” That’s God’s Social Security.
The benefits of this kind of social security which is investing in what God instructs: giving to the poor and helping others extend out of time and into eternity. I want to read a rather unusual parable of Jesus about a manager who cheated his master in order to take care of his own future. In Luke 16:1-8, Jesus told His disciples:
“There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management because you cannot be manager any longer.’ [He as going to lose his job and he had no other source of income.] The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig and I’m ashamed to beg, I know what I’ll do so that when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly and make it four hundred.’ Then he asked the second, ‘How much do you owe?’ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” (NIV)
That’s a strange story, isn’t it? The manager gave away money that was not his in order to gain acceptance with people who would welcome him when he no longer had a job of his own. Jesus didn’t condemn him for his dishonesty, but he commended him for his shrewdness and he said we need to learn the lesson.
So what is the lesson? That we need to give away money that will make us friends when we no longer are able to take care of ourselves. The friends we’ve made with our money will welcome us, Jesus says, into eternal homes.
See the lesson? It’s so beautiful if you can only grasp it. Your money really isn’t your own if you’re a child of God, you’re just a steward, a manager of God’s money. Jesus says it’s alright in God’s kingdom to give that money away to people investing in the kingdom of God. And when you’ve come to the end of your life the people you’ve invested in, the missionaries you’ve supported, the souls that have been saved through your giving to various Christian causes, will be there in eternity, waiting for you, saying, “thank you for that hundred dollars you sent to that missionary. As a result of that I was saved. I have an eternal home in heaven. I want to invite you to come into my home.”
So that’s a strange parable, but it’s got such a deep inner meaning. I look back with such satisfaction on the money that I’ve been able to invest by the grace of God over the years in different ministries and works that have brought souls into the kingdom of heaven. Because I know that if I continue faithful, one day when I myself have come to the end of my life, I have no more strength, when I step out of time into eternity, those people that I have given God’s money for will welcome me into eternal homes.
Well, our time is up for today, I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow, my theme will be: Security Through Doing God’s Will.