Kingdom Equity - Part II
Saturday, May 26th, 2012
The audio portion of this broadcast is no longer available on-line.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Cor. 4:7). Sometimes it’s easy for us to take credit for our accomplishments, skills, education, talents and abilities, but Paul reminds us that everything that we are and have is something we’ve received from God. Therefore, we should never boast about what God has invested in us, but we should be aware that all of this is kingdom equity which we are to use primarily for God’s glory, to advance the kingdom of God, not just for our own selfish gain.
Kingdom equity comes in another form, too:
Kingdom Equity of Suffering and Failure
We don’t usually think of the difficult things in our lives as investments, do we? I mean, investments are good things-positive things. If I make a financial investment in real estate, stock or whatever, I am making an investment that I trust will turn out for good—that will reap profits and benefits for me. I expect my investments to do me well; I make them in good faith that they will bring a profit in the long run.
Can it be true that the hard things we’ve gone through, the difficulties we’ve encountered, the heartaches we’ve known—even our sins and failures—can be seen as God’s investment in us? How can that be kingdom equity?
I ask you to think of anyone you know who is effective in the kingdom who has not gone through some difficult situations, who does not have some kind of baggage from his or her past, whose life has not always been easy and trouble-free. It is these hard things that drive us to know God, that keep us humble, that show us our total inadequacy and force us to depend on God. Yes, they are kingdom equity that God has allowed in our lives for his purpose. They include things such as:
- Your childhood experience. If you were deprived of what you needed as a child—love or protection or security or safety—any of those basics and instead you were abused or misused or abandoned or ignored—that is kingdom equity.
- Your health issues. Maybe you’ve faced some real health fears—cancer or some other diseases or disabilities that have been very difficult—that is kingdom equity.
- Your financial hardships. You’ve lost a job and you’ve faced month-ends without enough money to pay your bills—that is kingdom equity.
- Your unfulfilled dreams and hopes. That man or woman you wanted to marry never came along. That child you wanted to birth and you couldn’t—those are kingdom equity.
- Broken relationships. That marriage that fell apart, or that friend or family member who is estranged or distant from you— kingdom equity.
- Disappointments in people. That adult child who has left the church and the truths you taught him or her about God. That friend who betrayed you. That boss who fired you—more kingdom equity.
- Significant losses. That parent who died—mate, child or close friend—kingdom equity.
- Unfair and abusive treatment. From a mate, boss or a friend—kingdom equity.
- Sins from your past. Yes, even those things of which you are ashamed, those times when you chose to live in sin and stray far from God—kingdom equity.
All of these are kingdom equity that God wants to use for good in your life. I know that sounds almost flippant or it seems to trivialize the pain and suffering of your life. The opposite is true: it means that although God is not the author of all these investments and he never condones sin or evil and it is never from God, still he doesn’t waste anything in our lives. As we begin to see these things as kingdom equity, then we see that our God is so great that even our sorrows, our sins, the abuse we’ve suffered, or our failures can have meaning and be used for good.
We are so prone to say, “God is good” when something favorable has happened to us. A friend just got a job after a few months of unemployment. We say, “God is good.” A baby is born without any problems; we say, “God is good.” A journey is traveled without any accidents; we say, “God is good.” We got money back from our income tax, and we declare, “God is good.” We got a report back from the doctor and the lump is benign, and we shout, “God is good.”
Are those signs of God’s goodness? Absolutely. What about the hard times, the disappointments and the bad news? Are we just as quick to affirm that God is good—all the time? When Job’s wife suggested that he curse God and die, he said, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)
If we could orchestrate our lives from beginning to end—or our children’s lives—there would be no trouble or hard times in our symphony, would there? We’d make it as easy and comfortable and trouble-free as possible. So, why doesn’t God orchestrate our lives that way? Wouldn’t it be easier for us to do our good works God planned for us to do if our lives weren’t filled with anxieties and difficulties? That’s how we think, isn’t it? That’s the American Dream!
This is where your theology comes into play. This is why we all need to be theologians—people who are striving to know God better and better. It is our doctrine, our knowledge of truth, which will give us an eternal perspective. Let me ask you: Do you really believe that the details of your life are under God’s control? Does anything ever happen to you that takes God by surprise or catches him off-guard? Does he ever have to re-write the script for your life because his first draft just didn’t work out the way he planned?
The truth is, everything in your life is Plan A with God. It’s all Plan A. Whatever has happened to you, is happening to you, or will happen to you is already written in his book, because all of your days were written in his book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16) Yes, that includes the evil done to you or by you, the failures of your own or of others that have made your life difficult, the harmful and hurtful things that have happened to you, the sins you have committed willfully, the times you’ve gone astray and disobeyed. All of it was written in his book. It’s all Plan A.
That simply means that he doesn’t waste anything in our lives. He uses everything that has happened to us as a means to display his glory. All of that junk, the stuff you would have eliminated from your life story if you had written it—all of it is his mercy in disguise to you. He has been merciful to you and he has invested in you kingdom equity.
Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?” (Galatians 3:4) What kingdom equity are you wasting? What part of your past—or your present—have you put in the category of “Not good” or “Not fair” or “Shameful” or “Embarrassed” and therefore tried to hide it somewhere? Maybe you’ve tried to hide it from others as well as yourself. Or you’ve let it sit there so long that bitter roots are growing in your heart and those bitter roots are causing trouble and defiling you and others. Or have you allowed yourself to live in the lie that God can’t really use you like he uses other people because of your past.
Joseph said to his brothers, who had tried to kill him and had sold him into slavery:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20).
The thing about this kind of kingdom equity is that it’s very difficult to see how God can use it when we’re in the middle of it. It’s usually only in hindsight that we can say, “God meant it to me for good.” So that means that when we’re in the middle, we have to walk by faith and not by sight. We have to decide if we’re really going to trust God or not—against our feelings, against our emotions, against what we see and touch.
Philippians 3:10 is a prayer of Paul’s that we should pray very cautiously:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings
becoming like him in his death.
What does he mean “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings”? What fellowship is there in sufferings? Think about it: When you suffer with someone, you create a deeper relationship than just by working with them or even living with them.
Companionship in sorrow forms the most enduring of ties. Afflicted hearts cling to each other and grow like each other. We have the opportunity to get to know Jesus far more intimately through hardships and suffering than any other way.
When we are allowing God to use all his kingdom equity in us for his glory, this is the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. This is what brings meaning to every aspect of our lives—the good, the bad and the indifferent! Nothing is wasted, and we find that the pains and hurts of our lives can be used for good as well as all our experience, education and skills. Then what you discover is that your worth is found in using your kingdom equity doing the good works he intended for you to do.