“He feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself …” (Isa. 44:20).

Some times ago, a New Yorker cartoon showed a portly man and his wife looking through the picture window of their living room at a lovely vista of fields and trees. The man was saying: “God’s country? Well, I suppose it is. But I own it.” We smile. Yet that cartoon points to the confusion between God’s ownership of everything we have and our stewardship of it. The confusion is one we have all at some time slipped into—not that we should ever think of expressing it so crassly as the cartoonist did.

In one way or another, the culture we live in is pushing us toward more elaborate living. No society in history has been so incessantly stimulated as ours to spend more and more money on nonessentials. And if the resulting materialism hinders our witness to a needy world, as it surely does, not all the fault lies with Madison Avenue and its unremitting appeals to self-indulgence. It lies also with us. With all our devotion to the Bible, we evangelicals have not been biblical enough to resist the pressures around us. We are zealous for bringing people to Christ—and I say this without disparagement. But we have neglected essential parts of Scripture in which God sets forth what he requires of us in our relation to our neighbors. Our fault has been, and still is, an unbiblical selectivity in the preaching, reading, and application of the Word of God.

Here is an excerpt from a full-page advertisement of a certain reference Bible: “At first glance you will recognize its major feature: a unique color shading system that instantly classifies all verses dealing with the four major Bible themes—Salvation, The Holy Spirit, Temporal Blessings, ...

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