PROVERB PRACTICALS the earth is the lord's, proverbs 11-26, audio
Proverbs 11:26, He that withholdeth (keep back) corn (grain), the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
In our Proverb for today we are again given a glimpse of the economy of God, economy being the way that God conducts His business.
Godís ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts.
But Godís desire for us is that his ways become our ways and his thoughts become our thoughts.
For this is what it means to be conformed to the image of his Son and it also comes into play when God tells us through His Apostle Paul to let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.
It also comes into play when we are told the just shall live by faith and not by sight.
We are in the world but we are not to be of the world.
We function in the economy of the world but Godís desire for his children is to function in the economy of heaven.
And to function that way God desires that you see yourself, not as an owner, but as a steward.
We are so accustomed to saying this or that is mine.
Children are prone to claim ownership, saying Gimmie that, Thatís mine.
I have a deed to my house and on that deed my wife and I are listed as owners.
We have the title to our car.
All that is in our house belongs to us.
But these kind of thoughts are not Godís thoughts, nor do they fit in Godís economy for we are to see ourselves simply as stewards of that which God has put into our hands to manage for Him.
It is easy to know which economy is the right economy, the worldís economy or Godís economy simply by seeing the outcome, that you cannot take with you the worldly goods you manage, after you take your last breath.
That is the day when another steward comes on the scene and is handed over that which you managed, not to manage for him or herself but to manage for God.
It is easy to see that you own nothing but are simply a steward of that which God allows you to manage.
And He will measure your stewardship against His word, which says it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful and that means being faithful to the husbandmanís direction in the use of what is His.
You enter this world with nothing and leave this world with nothing but God allows you to manage His things between those two events.
That is very simple to understand but it is not very easy to carry out when this world bombards you with its ways and its thoughts.
For Godís economy is conducted in the realm of faith but the worldís economy is conducted in the realm of sight.
The realm of sight pushes one to see himself as owner and therefore to amass things for he knows not what the future holds and must prepare on his own so that he has no lack.
But the realm of faith pushes one, who sees himself as steward of anotherís goods, who sees himself serving one who knows what the future holds, and therefore he carries out the instructions of the husbandman knowing that the husbandman will provide for his needs.
Our Lord Jesus Christ told us of a certain man who operated in the realm of sight whose ground brought forth plentifully.
This man believed the lie of ownership talking about his fruits, his barns, his goods, giving no credence to the fact that none of those things were his, but in fact would soon be passed on to another steward.
God called him Fool, saying: this night thy soul shall be required of thee, then whose shall those things be?
I would imagine that this fool was of the ilk who fit into the category of our proverb, one who withheld or kept back corn for why did he build bigger barns except to wait for a bigger price.
Now the word for corn literally means grain.
I think God uses this commodity so that it is clear from where this grain comes.
Man plants, man waters, but God is the one who gives the increase.
The grain belongs to God and God will share some with you for you have entered into the effort for grain to come forth and the laborer is worthy of his hire.
But in Godís economy we are always to remember that God is the owner of the grain as he is the owner of everything and he expects whatever He owns to be distributed according to His ways.
Flour comes from grain and bread comes from flour.
Bread is the very staff of life. A staff is what upholds.
Bread upholds a man for it brings sustenance.
Grain is important to life and God instructs that his gift of grain is not to be withheld.
This proverb gives us vision into Godís economy for it instructs the trader in corn to not hold back corn or grain merely to serve his own interests.
God feeds the world and any hindrance to that mission God looks at with disfavor.
Godís steward who is engaged in Godís distribution of grain is to use that gift for the benefit of others as well as for his own advantage.
There is to be a balance in trade, keeping in mind, a servant is worthy of his hire, but also to keep in mind Godís liberality.
There is to be no withholding of a product so as to increase the price with the intent of increasing a bank account at the expense of the poor, and the risk of the health of others.
God is a God of beneficence and His economy reflects that.
Jesus taught his disciples his economy by telling them that he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
This principle of distributing Godís gifts is a principle that is to mark the children of God.
Any hindrance of this distribution communicates to the poor and needy an image of God other than that of his kindness and mercy and love.
We are made in Godís image and being made in Godís image gives us responsibility to do things Godís way that His image be not distorted.
God brings forth fruit from the earth that he intends to have distributed by his stewards to all those who depend on the staff of life.
Closing Godís generous hand in order to gain selfish benefit will bring a curse from the very people whom God intends to bless.
This is a very serious issue with God.
Stewards who use Godís gifts for their own benefit, thus denying benefits to others put themselves in great danger for they distort the image of God which brings murmuring by those denied Godís gifts.
God takes personally any counteraction of his purpose that brings a man to see God as mean, selfish, unfeeling and unloving.
So he who withholds corn for his own benefit not only brings curses upon himself but God feels those same curses coming to Him.
God blesses the earth with food but if the food is withheld for selfish gain, not only the withholder of the corn is cursed but God is cursed.
His image is besmirched.
But corn is not the only commodity that God is concerned about.
Today look what is happening with the oil resources of the world.
Who owns the oil? Who put the oil there?
Well the Saudis say they own Saudi oil which is 20% of the worldís reserves.
Iran owns Iranian oil. Norwegians own the North Sea oil.
And Venezuela says they own vast quantities also.
But we know God put the oil there and he expects it to be distributed by his stewards in accordance with His economy.
It is not to be withheld as it is today by greedy men who look for excessive profits at the expense not only of the poor but all men.
Look at the extravagant use of the oil money by OPEC nations as they monopolize oil supply and command whatever prices they can get and contrast that to many of the countries from which that money comes to pay for the oil.
Countries that can barely feed their people are gouged by OPEC nations which spend their money on such things as 300 million dollar vacations, vast glutinous estates, cars by the hundreds, super jets flying a few sheiks from place to place, cities in the desert with the highest and most grandiose buildings.
Look at another withholding of Godís oil on our own shores.
Look at that stoppage of the flow of Godís oil by leaders who make decisions in favor of alternative energy that cannot power most of our energy users.
Imagine solar energy moving super jets through the sky or solar powered automobiles or wind powered houses.
Perhaps this will come eventually but to withhold oil from people who are hurting, people who struggle from paycheck to paycheck will bring to our leaders what our Proverbs says if I put it into the oil context.
He that withholdeth oil, the people shall curse him:
Every time you fill your gas tank you are in jeopardy of saying bad things because of the actions of our leaders who withhold that which God has provided for our use.
Each penny rise in gasoline brings forth curses that translate into ever decreasing approval ratings for there is a direct relationship.
We choose to be in bed with those oil chieftains, in many cases our enemies, who withhold oil in order to pad their pockets with the hard earned money of people throughout the world.
In doing this we give tacit approval to their actions.
God has given us stewardship over vast resources in our own country.
Now we ought not to waste these resources but we ought not to be complicit with the nations who misuse Godís resources in the lands over which they have stewardship.
A good steward ought to be able to figure out what is the best use of Godís gifts.
The worldís economy depends on oil, a resource that is finite, but donít you suppose that God has other endless resources to keep this world going if He so chooses.
Heís in charge isnít He?
Making decisions as if all energy sources will dry up is faithless but that is the way of the worldís economy for it operates by sight not by faith.
But the worldís economy ought not to be the economy that we espouse.
The economy that we should espouse is the God is the great provider and He will meet our needs regardless of the depletion of oil.
We are not to fear as the world fears!
Now we have learned that withholding corn brings curses upon him who keeps corn in the silo.
But as usual in Proverbs God gives us a comparison and he tells that blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
Here we have a man of faith who knows that God provides the corn to be distributed, not to be hoarded.
He may say, Well, I am going to hoard it just for a little while in order that I may get the best price.
So our Proverb says this is not the man who will be blessed of God for this is a man who is not a good steward of that which God has positioned to manage.
Now he may be blessed by the world for he will have more money in the bank and the world loves that kind of a deal, but he wonít be blessed of God.
Look at it another way.
I have money in my bank account but I choose to keep it in spite of the fact that there is a need which I believe God would have me meet.
I will not be blessed of God for this hoarding of Godís treasure.
But if it is within your power to enrich yourself by withholding but you do not withhold, but instead free up the commodity you manage, God will bring blessing upon your head.
This proverb does not say the people will bless you for it is generally true that people more easily curse their oppressors than to bless their benefactors.
How many will bless our leaders if the price of gasoline goes down compared to all the curses that go their way because of the steep increases we see?
But this proverb reminds us to look up for blessings, for upward given blessing are blessings that last.
God is always at the ready to daily load us with benefits and he can add to our benefits if we freely distribute that which God has entrusted us to distribute in His name.
We donít often bless those who sell to us but God chooses to do so for in many ways they are fulfilling Godís program of giving.
God is glorified when we carry out His purpose and function according to His economy being faithful to serve others according to the will of God.
We are to think as Paul wrote the Philippians in Phil. 2:4, Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
A godly and fruitful sermon, preached at Grantham
A.D. 1592, by FRANCIS TRIGGE.
'The poor man must needs sell presently to maintain his family, to pay his rents. And that which he sells the rich cormorant buys that hath money enough lying by him, to hoard it up, that he may sell it dearer after. These buyers commonly dwell ill market-towns, and wait to get into their hands on all the corn (if it were possible) in the country. Nayóthey will not only wait at home, but they will travel abroad into the country to those men, whom they know have great plenty of corn to sell, and will bargain aforehand with them for as much as they can spare, and so will prevent the market And when they have it in their garners, they make the price at their pleasure. Surely this is a wolf of the soul.
Some others will sell at home to their poor neighbors; but they will make them pay for their ease. They shall pay, above the market something; or else they will let them have none. They know the poor man must need have it. He cannot buy it in the market, because he cannot then convey it home; and knowing this his necessity, they will make him pay above all reason. And that also which makes their sin more heinous; if they send any corn to market, they will dress it very clean, and it shall be of their best corn. But if they sell at home, they which buy shall be constrained to take their worst or meanest and not so well dressed.'