Authored by Scott MacGregor
I’ve often wished I had a truckload of money that I could use to help others. There are many people I know who need financial help for one thing or another, and it would be great to have the means to be that help. I daydream of coming along and dropping a bunch of cash on my friends, family, and others, and enjoying watching them get out from under financial burdens and be free to enjoy life without the stress that money troubles can bring. As of now, I don’t have those means. But I am keeping my fingers crossed that one day luck will come my way.
Even though the idea of being this kind of benefactor is still a cherished dream, I’ve been coming to another realization: It’s not my job to play God.
Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t be partners with God in His work as the kind, loving, and generous God that He is. But we are very junior partners at best. We have a vote, so to speak, but the decision isn’t ours. This world, and the plan behind it, is all God’s doing, and He knows what He wishes to accomplish overall, and in and through each individual’s and family’s life.
I was going over in my mind the many miracles that Jesus performed on earth, and I can’t think of one where He caused a bunch of money to fall in someone’s lap. The only miracle that had to do with money at all was when the disciples needed to pay a tax. He had Peter go and catch a fish and inside its mouth was a coin, which was enough to cover the tax.1 But, as it seems in the miracles He performed, it met the current need because the disciples needed to use it right away.
As much as I am tempted to worry about money, I don’t think God is worried about it at all. (Of course, God doesn’t worry at all, but you get what I mean.) Even though Solomon writes in the book of Ecclesiastes that “money is the answer to everything,”2 Jesus stated that it is really hard for the rich, those who have a lot of money, to get into heaven: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”3 So why, I wonder, would God let us ever be rich if it’s going to cause us that kind of agony?
This little nugget from Jesus left the disciples dumbfounded and they asked Him, “‘Who then can be saved?’ Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’”4 I suppose it was sort of natural to think that someone rich who had it so good would be a shoo-in to get into heaven before the rest of us.
Now if I really took this to heart, I suppose I wouldn’t want that truckload of money I talked about at the beginning. I should be as Paul wrote: “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”5 Jesus also went further on this theme in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”6
These used to be some of my favorite scriptures, as I was often in tight financial squeezes, and these words helped me take heart that God knew my problems and would come to my rescue, and He always did. I never had a lot of money, but I always had enough for the moment. I figured that on the strength of that passage He would sort all things out in my future too. Now I am in that future, and I look around and see that I still have the things I need: I am not in debt and I have some funds in the bank, so any worrying that I did over the years was, in fact, wasted energy.
But now, somehow, I have sought to take on a role that isn’t intended for me. I worry, not for myself, but for my friends and loved ones—that somehow God is not going to live up to the standard that He set Himself in the Sermon on the Mount, and has been true in my life up till now. So I want to play God and dole out cash to others when they need it. I want them to have everything they need, and I seem to think that money is the answer. You can do a lot of things with money, but money doesn’t buy happiness.
Recent scientific studies have shown that the respect and appreciation of others has much more to do with happiness than with status or wealth. Having the basics covered, happiness plateaus, and gaining more money doesn’t increase feelings of contentedness. When thinking about this, if the respect and appreciation of others makes us happy, then what about the appreciation and love of God for us? That should really make us happy.
And in fact it does. The psalmist wrote, “Happy is that people, whose god is the Lord.”7 That’s not just a statement but a formula for happiness. He is Lord, and when we are right with Him, then we are happy.
But back to “playing God”: I still have that longing to be able to help others in a big way financially, but I have to remember that this isn’t always going to be the best for the people involved. Only God knows, and it’s usually better for me to stop seeing myself as the white knight charging in to the rescue, and to step back and let God play His role.
As you can tell from hearing this, I’m a bit confused, or at least torn between trusting God and coming to the rescue myself. Well, until I have that truckload of cash, I won’t be a lot of help in this area anyway, so I guess it’s best to trust God. It always seems to come to that.
1 Matthew 17:24-27
2 Ecclesiastes 10:19 NASB
3 Mark 10:25 NASB
4 Mark 10:26-27 NASB
5 1 Timothy 6:8 NASB
6 Matthew 6:25–33 NIV
7 Psalm 144:15 KJV
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2013 by The Family International