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Feeling God's Pleasure

  • Austin Pryor Sound Mind Investing
  • Updated May 07, 2008
Feeling God's Pleasure
And so, another January is here and we begin again. The good news is that our failures of 2007, financial and otherwise, are behind us. We have a clean slate to write on as we launch into a new year. Of course, our successes are behind us as well. We can't rest on our laurels. There are new opportunities awaiting us and still much to be done.

Our God-given stewardship responsibilities are life long. Yes, He is the owner ("Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours" — 1 Chronicles 29:11). But we are the managers ("Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them" — Matthew 25:14). 

Each of us has been given a small plot where we serve in His vineyard and labor according to the gifts He has given us. With respect to financial matters, we are to be diligent in our work (Colossians 3:23-24), wise in our spending (Proverbs 21:20), purposeful in our saving (Proverbs 6:6-8), strategic in our investing (Ecclesiastes 11:2), and generous in our giving (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Doing these things with earnestness requires time and sacrifice. Why should we make the effort? Because it's what disciples do. As Dallas Willard says in The Divine Conspiracy:

The assumption of Jesus' program for his people on earth was that they would live their lives as his students and co-laborers. They would find him so admirable in every respect—wise, beautiful, powerful and good—that they would constantly seek to be in his presence and be guided, instructed, and helped by him in every aspect of their lives.... The effect of such continuous study under Jesus would naturally be that we learn how to do everything we do "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col 3:17); that is, on his behalf or in his place. And of course that means we would learn "to conform to everything I have commanded you" (Matt 28:20). In his presence our inner life will be transformed, and we will become the kind of people for whom his course of action is the natural (and supernatural) course of action. Plainly, in the eyes of Jesus there is no good reason for not doing what he said to do, for he only tells us to do what is best.

So, we are to be obedient because that's what disciples do. But that last phrase—He only tells us to do what is best—should comfort and encourage us. God has all the best information on what makes for a happy and fulfilling life, and He has given us these prescriptions for our good. Things go better for us when we live in the flow of God's wisdom. And things go better for the kingdom as well. When we use our gifts in obedience, we are doing what we were made to do—glorifying God and advancing His kingdom. There's nothing so personally satisfying.

The film Chariots of Fire tells, in part, the story of Eric Liddell, a gold medalist at the 1924 Olympics and later a missionary to China. The primary drama focuses on his refusal to run on a Sunday, believing Sunday was reserved for the Lord. But my favorite part of the film is the subplot between Eric and his sister Jennie, who is concerned that his running will take him away from his missionary efforts. There's a scene where Eric is sharing with Jennie the good news that he's been accepted by the mission society to go to China. But then he adds, "But I've got a lot of running to do first. Jennie... Jennie... you've got to understand. I believe that God made me for a purpose... for China. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.... To win is to honor Him." It's an emotional moment when, later, we see Eric in the final moments of his race. With head thrown back, legs pumping, arms flailing, he is clearly exhilarated in giving his best to what he believed God had called him to do. As a result, God was honored and Eric's running called attention to, and gathered support for, his mission work.

There are many ways we are called to serve the Lord, and exercising Spirit-led stewardship is one of them. SMI is here to help in 2008, but it's your race. Run it with passion. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1)

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