Thursday, November 12, 2009

Drowning In Abundance

I have recently been reading The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel. In chapter four Flavel discusses God's providence in relation to our employment/work in this world. There is an interesting subsection in this chapter wherein Flavel shows that God's providence is displayed "in making your calling sufficient for you." The essence of this section could easily be summed up with the words of Paul where he says "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Php. 4:12&13).

What caught my attention most about this section was Flavel's warning regarding being consumed by your work:

And yet do not be so intent upon your callings [jobs] as to make them interfere with your general calling. Beware you do not lose your God in the crowd and hurry of earthly business. Mind that solemn warning: 'But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition' (1 Tim. 6. 9). The inhabitants of Oenoe, a dry island near Athens, bestowed much labor to draw in a river to water it and make it fruitful. But when the sluices were opened, the waters flowed so abundantly that it overflowed the island and drowned the inhabitants. The application is obvious. It was an excellent saying of Seneca: 'I do not give, but lend myself to business.'
Ultimately Flavel is making the point that we should be satisfied with the occupation that He has given us and not want more because more does not equate to better. On the flip side, don't desire a job with less work or that pays less because God's providence has placed you in it and He will provide you with the strength to accomplish the work and use the abundance rightly.

Abundance, argues Flavel, can drown out that which is most important to your joy--God. Work at your occupation giving thanks to God that He has given it to you so that you can help others, not starve yourself and so that you are not idle and therefore more prone to sin that often accompanies such idleness. Don't, however, work for abundance just for the sake of abundance or you may find yourself in the same position as the Oenoeans.