I’ve witnessed the birth of each of my three sons, and not one came into the world holding anything but his breath. Likewise, none of us leaves this world holding anything, certainly not our stock certificates or property deeds or favorite shoes.
We learned in the sermon on “Hope and Money” in early November that Paul, echoing Job, writes to Timothy in a letter, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
As true as Paul’s words are, Job’s original words were in a much different context and provide a dramatic element to their particular truth. In Job 1:13-19 Satan had just obliterated his family, servants, and livestock. Job’s response is stunning: “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:20-21)
Jesus, too, was naked when he came from his mother’s womb and before he was crucified was stripped naked and nailed to a cross. And yet, unlike my sons and Paul and Job (and me and you) who didn’t bring exactly “nothing” into the world but rather did bring our sin (Ps 51:5), Jesus the babe brought into the world “the true light that gives light to every man.” (John 1:9) And the sin we brought into the world was what he took with him when he departed.
So, what shall we do?
As Job said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” He worshiped in light of realizing that—all trappings aside—he had nothing, except the Lord, who is more than enough.
This Christmas let us remember to hold our temporary possessions lightly, and remembering Jesus’ nakedness on our behalf, let our possessions pass through our hands as Job did, ending with worship. Because many of us won’t have these possessions yanked unwillingly from us as happened to Job, let us give freely, wholeheartedly, and cheerfully, as Paul instructs elsewhere.
Remember to give to your church and to the other organizations that do kingdom work in New York and other cities where gospel movements are taking place.