Have you ever caught yourself saying or thinking ...
- Why is money always so tight?!?!
- Poor me, we never have extra money!
- If I had more money, then I would give...
- I will be able to give one day when I have margin...
- There is no way I can give right now...
Or how about ...
- THEY have plenty of money ... THEY should be giving ...
- I'm not rich. Whew! Good thing the "camel passing through a needle" verse (Matthew 6:24) doesn't pertain to me!
If this is you ... and I admit this WAS me.. you need a change in perspective. Want to hear something disturbing... or better yet, something that will rock your world? In a sermon a few years ago, my pastor said something so impactful that forever changed my "poor me" view.
"If your combined family income is more than $40,000 a year, you are considered to be in the top 1% (YES, ONE PERCENT) of the world's wealth!!!" This means the vast majority of Americans are considered wealthy. I am rich! These verses do pertain to me!!! Yikes!
Are you familiar with the story behind the verse mentioned above (Matthew 19:16-26 The Rich Young Ruler)? In this story, the ruler asks Jesus what "good" thing he could do to have eternal life. He believed he had kept all the commandments which is how Jesus responded to his question. Jesus then told him to go and sell all of his possessions if he wanted to be "perfect". The man "went away sad."
I believe Jesus was inferring two things. First, he used the phrases "if you want to be perfect" and "there is only One who is good" to illustrate that we cannot earn eternal life. This, however, does not let us off the hook which bring me to my second point. The problem wasn't that the man had a lot of money ... God blesses many with prosperity (King Solomon, Abraham, etc.). The problem was that He loved it more than Jesus. That is why Jesus asked him to give it up. The man was, in fact, breaking a commandment - Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other gods before me. His love for money was greater than his love for God. It was his idol. This story poses a question for us all (no matter what your income is) - Is money an idol in my life?
BOTTOM LINE - WE ARE BLESSED WITH MORE MONEY THAN WE NEED
We need to stop having such a narrow perspective and change it to a kingdom perspective.
I CHOOSE to change my focus from "poor, poor me" to "richly blessed me." The Lord provides and gives us everything we need (Psalm 16:5). He's almighty God and knows what's best. Everything He instructs us to do is for a reason ... for our own good! When we are NOT good stewards, it opens the door for stress ,worry, greed, jealousy, etc. Many times, destruction follows. Why are we to be good stewards? To release control. God knows what Satan can do with money in your life if he can get a foothold.
THE QUESTION IS WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THE EXTRA?
Would you be able to give IF you had more money? The truth is, if you're not giving now (monetarily, materially and in service), you won't give later ... It will already be allocated elsewhere.
In the end, I will have to answer to God as to how I chose to handle what he has blessed me with ... not how better I did than my neighbor.
Are you the One percent? What are you doing with your riches? What does the Bible say we should do?
1. Do NOT put your hope in wealth. It is also uncertain. The only constant in life is God.
1 Timothy 6:17 Command people who are rich in this world not to be proud. Tell them not to put their hope in riches. Wealth is so uncertain. Command those who are rich to put their hope in God. He richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
2. It's OK to have money. Do NOT LOVE it. This to is idolatry and Satan's deception.
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Hebrews 13:5 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have for He himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU."
3) Don't just be rich ... be rich in doing good. This is the real Abundant Life.
1 Timothy 6:18-19 Command the rich to do what is good. Tell them to be rich in doing good things. They must give freely. They must be willing to share. In that way they will put riches away for themselves. It will provide a firm basis for the next life. Then they will take hold of the life that really is life.
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not sore up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where you treasure it, there your heart will be also.
Money is a powerful thing. It can be used for much good through blessing others OR for bad (to love or long for it could corrupt and rule your life. Jesus summed up a chapter full of money instruction with -
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
There is so much to the topic of money. This discussion will continue at a later time.