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By: Larry Shaffer
This is Houdini, Nate, Jr., and Sketch. Just because I agreed to get some cats to patrol our 4 acres in Boerne, TX (keep scorpions, snakes, etc., away) doesn’t mean I’m getting attached to them. I don’t want you to get the idea I have a soft spot for cats….these kittens on the other hand are adorable.
Funny how history repeats itself and how the recurring patterns of man arise over and over again. In this section, we have God’s denunciation of the Chaldeans. This is a cursing by God of a real nation but is also representative of all nations, groups and even individuals who think and act in the same manner as the Chaldeans. They are described as prideful, arrogant, fierce and impetuous.
These recorded words of God are a response to Habakkuk’s question of ‘how can You favor the Chaldeans over Your chosen people?’ God says, I don’t favor them. They are cursed. They are only pawns to me that I am using to chastise my people. There are five categorical “woes” given by God to the Chaldeans. It is written as Hebrew poetry with 5 stanzas with 3 verses each.
Woe to the thief
One of the curses I want to consider today is “Woe to him who increases what is not his…and makes himself rich with loans (this implies loan-shark behavior) …you have looted many nations.” On a personal devotional note, this is a reminder to us to be mindful of our sources of income. Being rich is not evil or condemned, per se, (Abraham, Job, the father of the prodigal, as examples). The means of our income, however, is important to God. Does our work, whether manual or mental, add value to others, stimulate the economy, improve the lives of others, etc. Additionally, by following these principles, I believe we should consider the companies we work for. Do you feel good about the culture of the company, the way people are treated, the value of the product and services provided? (I am sharing principles, not mandates. This is not to be used to shame others but for reflection and consideration). What about our investments? Some are making great gains in the exploding marijuana industry. Since it is legal, isn’t it OK to profit? Is legality the correct question? However, be careful to judge and jump to conclusions. Medical cannabis, when used correctly is immensely valuable in many cases. On the other hand, recreational pot, is not an investment I want to be involved in, even if legal. How you make your income and accumulate wealth is important to consider and to make sure one is not accumulating through sinful means.
Let’s make it personal
I am stretching the text today, which is directed toward an evil nation that invades territories, pillages and takes plunder that doesn’t belong to them. Instead I am applying some personal principles. Since Vladimir Putin and Kim-Jong-un probably won’t be reading my blog, I wanted to make some practical applications for the rest of us. 🙂 So, regarding attitudes of income, sources of income and principles of stewardship, I would direct you toward I Timothy 5:17-19. “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” Amen!