Who is "email"?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts after you mull over this for a while:
Pastors, preachers, and other people can not authoritatively or unerringly tell you what God says. The days of inspiration and prophets are long past, closing with the death of Jesus' apostles and prophets in the first century. More on this here:
This means you should not just accept what anybody says as being representative of God's Word. Teachers can be helpful, but ultimately we must all be taught by God, which He does when we read the Bible:
When we read the Bible, we can understand what God wants us to know. It takes diligence (I Timothy 2:15), but if we patiently and prayerfully meditate on the meaning, we can learn the answers to our necessary problems (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:2-3).Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me. (Psalm 119:97-102)
[The apostle Paul speaking:] ... how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets... (Ephesians 3:3-5)
Why the urge to go back to the Bible? People make mistakes, sincerely or otherwise! However, the Bible is never wrong. It is a good habit to double-check every reference to ensure the proper interpretation is being gleaned from the passage. Paul commended some early listeners, because they double-checked everything he said with the existing set of Scriptures (Acts 17:11). I figure if the Holy Spirit saw fit to recommend the example of those double-checking an inspired apostle, then shouldn't we double-check each other against Scripture, who are not inspired? A teacher acknowledges this fact by providing Scripture to back up his every point. At the least, I would personally be highly suspicious of anyone's assertions that are not backed up with Scripture.
Now I have said all of that to say this: I think you were originally given very bad advice! It was partially true and partially false, so it ultimately failed! Please allow me to correct some of these misleading points:
- Work Ethic and Self-Development - I am unaware of any passage or teaching in the Bible that supports the idea that we should disavow work responsibilities or enhancing our own work-return potential. Instead, the Bible demands a strong work ethic:
In fact, wealth is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be an earthly blessing and protection for us (Ecclesiastes 7:11-12), and it can enable us to helps others. Furthermore, we are admonished to work, so we can give to those who have not (Ephesians 4:28). However, we must be very careful not to pursue it to the detriment of our other responsibilities. Remember, acquiring money is not a sin, but "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (I Timothy 6:10). We must be extremely cautious that we do not commit other sins in our desire and pursuit of money. Finally, we must be careful that we do not worry about wealth; otherwise, we will find ourselves in great misery, possibly spiritual ruin (I Timothy 6:6-11).Paul by inspiration wrote:For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. (II Thessalonians 3:7-12)
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:22-24)
Not only are Christians to do their best in work, "as unto the Lord", but wisdom teaches us do our best, because we will not have a second chance (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Furthermore, a Christian's stubborn failure to work is actually grounds for disfellowship (II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15).
As a personal example, I spent some time in school acquiring an advanced technical degree, so I could provide for my family. However, I carefully monitored my school load to ensure that I never forsook my responsibilities to the Lord or to my family. Eventually, I tried to get the best job possible, where I made the most money, yet that was not my ultimate goal. As testament to this, I eventually quit my first job, committing career suicide, because I could not resolve the extreme time demands for work with my responsibilities to God, family, and church. ... The key word here is "priorities".
- Worry versus Concern - Again, one should not run to one extreme in an effort to avoid the other. One must be concerned about food, clothing, etc., because "if a man does not work, neither should eat". Our food is based upon our proactive efforts. God never promised to bring us food without our effort. The key is not to go overboard and make food, clothing, and material things an ultimate goal, whether in word or deed.
One should work, and work hard, to provide for himself, his family, and others (Proverbs 6:6-11; II Thessalonians 3:7-12; I Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 4:28). However, if he does not make as much money as he wants, then he should not be overly concerned about such unfulfilled dreams. Sure, you might should consider going back to school or shopping around for a better job, but what will it cost you? Will someone else raise your kids? Will someone else be a husband to your wife? Will this effort deprive you of precious energy and time needed to fulfill more important responsibilities? Maybe it will, and maybe it won't. You will have to decide that, but remember, God will judge your decisions (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Worry is the time and energy you spend dwelling on a problem, after you have done all you can or should do. I may want to be handsome and a millionaire, but why should I spend time dwelling on something that I cannot change? And, if I could, what would it cost? Is that something I would want to give up? "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
- True Sacrifice versus Tithing - This relates to the most despicable lie you were told. God does not want your money. Furthermore, He certainly will not give you more money, just because you give Him some. -- He wants you! Think about these passages, which relate to the Old Testament practices of sacrifice and tithing:
Now, that doesn't mean that New Testament Christians are not supposed to contribute to the Lord's work. They are commanded to do so (I Corinthians 16:1-2); however, God wants them to give no more than they want to give or can give (II Corinthians 9:7; 8:12). The only promise that comes from this is a spiritual reward. The gospel of "health and wealth" is a sham cooked up by tele-evangelists and other greedy scam artists milking religious minded people."I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices Or your burnt offerings, Which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." (Psalm 50:7-15)
"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart -- These, O God, You will not despise." (Psalm 51:16-17)
"With what shall I come before the Lord, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:6-8)
God's only concern for your money is that it does not get between you and Him. Since God is a loving Father, who gives His children what they need (Matthew 7:7-11; Hebrews 12:5-11), I would venture that God would never give someone prosperity and financial security, if they desperately wanted it or believed they needed it. If that stands in your way of salvation, He would rather you give it up:
This man's wealth stood between him and Jesus. Because Jesus loved him, He cut to the chase and asked him to lay it on the line. Notice, Jesus did not want the money: He instructed the rich young ruler to give it to the poor - not Him or the church. He just wanted this man to truly follow Him, and his wealth was all that stood in the way of a pure relationship with his God."Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and your mother.' " And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth." Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)
- Ultimate Confidence - Ok, maybe "zero self-confidence" is a bit of a stretch, but it still communicates the point, even if it overstates the case a little. Here's the idea in illustrative example:
Let's say I walk into a job interview, and they ask me if I can do task X. If I can do it, I say "Yes, I can do task X. I have so many years experience of successfully completing task X." If I cannot do it, then I simply say, "No, I cannot do task X, but I have experience with tasks Y and Z, which are similar. Therefore, I believe will be able to pick up task X very quickly". Or, I might say, "No, I cannot do task X, but I am eager to learn how."
Admittedly, there's nothing special here. The special point of application occurred the night before and the night after the interview:
Did I lay awake all night before worrying that I may not get the job? Did I spend all day worrying that I bombed the interview? Yes, I will take my time to anticipate questions, and prepare answers. And, yes, I will reflect on the interview and try to learn from my mistakes, but after I have done all I can do, I trust in God to take care of the rest. After I say my prayers, I roll over and sleep peacefully and securely.
In the interview, I answer questions with confidence, not that I got them right and that I can do everything, but confident that the final result does not matter. God will take care of me and my family (Matthew 6:19-34). We will have food and clothes somehow, and beyond that, it does not really matter (Hebrews 13:5-6). You see, I do not need any specific job. Granted, I may not get to do my favorite task X, or the job may not be prestigious, or I may no longer be able to afford my desired house, car(s), gadgets, etc, but I am not worried about maintaining those things, because my life does not ultimately consist in such things. All that matters, and all that I can control, is my integrity and service to God.
In summary, here are the main points summarized in Scripture and brief comment:
Is Jesus telling us not to work for food? Of course not, but He wants us to set priorities. What is our ultimate goal? What have we put first in our life - in word and deed?John, recording Jesus, wrote:Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him. (John 6:27)
Why are you worried? What do you want? And, why do you want it? Are you worried that you will lose something that you need or something you want? What is most important to you? We must all constantly check ourselves with these self-examining questions.Matthew, quoting Jesus, wrote:But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
God has promised salvation and every spiritual blessing to His children (Ephesians 1:3). He has promised food and clothing too (Matthew 6:19-44; Psalm 37:25). Beyond that, we have no confidence, because no promise was given for anything more. Setting your heart on anything more will ultimately produce despair, because you will ultimately be disappointed. But, does that really matter? If these excess things do not matter to you, then you can have ultimate confidence, assuming you have already become His child. If not, please let me know, and we can discuss that point further, which is the greater question to be answered.Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. (Philippians 4:11)
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (I Timothy 6:8)
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)
May God bless us with a sincere love of the truth.