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FIRST-PERSON: Living by God’s economy

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–Many people list Jeremiah 29:11 as one of their favorite verses in the Bible: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” This inspirational verse brings comfort to our lives when the future looks bleak and we feel like we have no hope. This verse reminds us that we can take comfort in knowing that our Heavenly Father has a plan for our lives, a good plan for our future.

But do we ever stop to think about the context of this verse? Who was God giving this promise to? Jerusalem had been attacked by the army of King Nebuchadnezzar, the city destroyed, and all the people carried away as captives to Babylon. Now, God’s chosen people lived as exiles in a strange country. Understandably, they were distraught and hopeless. What would become of them in this foreign land?

It was to these people that God spoke these words, through His prophet Jeremiah:

“This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper'” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

To a people who had no hope, to a people who were captives in a foreign country, God gave them instructions on how to live their lives. They were to build houses, plant gardens, marry and have children. They should not stop living because they were in a land that was not their home. He also told them to pray for the peace and prosperity of the very land that held them captive. As that land prospered, so they also would prosper.

The promise continued in verse 10, “This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.'” This promise of deliverance is followed by the famous verse, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:10-11).

The Lord gave the people hope that they would be delivered from their captivity and brought back into their homeland. And then He assured them that none of this was happening by accident. God had a plan for His people, just as surely as He has a plan for each of us today.

We know that this world is not our final home. Yet, we are still here, for the amount of time that God grants us. How do we need to live, here in this “foreign land”? We should follow the Lord’s instructions to the Israelites: settle down, marry, and have children. Basically to go about our daily lives in the way He has instructed us. And one very important instruction is to pray for the peace and prosperity of the land.

Our country has undergone some major financial upheavals in the past year. Many people are beginning to see that they have been living by man’s economy, trusting in money and possessions to bring happiness, but finding out that man’s economy only brings worry, doubt and unhappiness. There is a better way.

God’s economy calls us to make Him the Lord of our lives, in every aspect, including our finances. Recognizing that God is the owner of all things and that we are stewards of His blessings will give us that peace we all search for. And by being wise stewards, we can be free to use His resources in the way He instructs, to bless our lives and the lives of others, to be free to be generous and to help others.

God still has a plan for His children today, a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, a plan to give us hope and a future, if we choose to live in God’s economy, even in the midst of a “foreign land.”
Learn more about God’s message of hope to His people in the short film, Jeremiah’s Call, part of the God Provides Film Learning Experience from Crown Financial Ministries. Learn more at Crown.org/GodProvides. Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. Cofounded by Howard Dayton and the late Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org) is an interdenominational ministry with 200 staff and over 10,000 volunteers dedicated to equipping people globally with biblically based financial stewardship tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching.

    About the Author

  • Chuck Bentley