Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rich Towards God

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

-- Matthew 25:23

Compared to most of the world’s population, Americans are incredibly rich. When we’re hungry for a snack, all we have to do is walk to the kitchen for some fresh fruit – or more realistically – a bag of chips or a tub of Rocky Road ice cream. And if we’re running low on supplies, a quick trip to the supermarket or gourmet shop fills up the fridge in no time. We quite literally enjoy an “embarrassment of riches.”

Even Americans who receive government financial assistance are “rich” by the world’s standards because they often have excess money and time to share with others. Regardless of our place on the economic ladder, Christ-followers are called to give richly because God continues to bless us with so much. But here’s a secret: God really doesn’t need our money.

That’s an odd thing to read in a church newsletter. But since God is able to speak all creation into existence, part the Red Sea with His hands and live among us in human form (through Jesus Christ), it’s safe to assume that He doesn’t need a bank account or an American Express Gold Card to get things done.

So why for centuries have Christ-followers given a portion of their incomes to help achieve God’s will on earth? First, God is the ultimate giver. And He wants us to be that way, too. Think about the many gifts God gives us every day. Our riches vary, but they tend to include things like our health, job, home, family, friends and church. And what about God’s ultimate gift to us: forgiveness of our sins and an eternal relationship with God through our faith in Jesus?

God also wants every Christ-follower to be a cheerful giver. But to do that, we need to trust Him rather than our riches. After all, bank accounts and retirement funds can be wiped out overnight through unexpected circumstances and economic uncertainties. Just ask anyone with a 401K!

So what’s the benefit of giving our time and money? As the Apostle Paul explains it in 1 Timothy, giving back richly towards God and His purposes renders much more than just a warm feeling of self-satisfaction. Think of it as a guaranteed high yield investment with dividends that you’ll enjoy forever in the world to come. God challenges us to turn our preconceived notions on their heads. Through His design, giving richly becomes getting more:

“By doing that, they will be saving a treasure for themselves as a strong foundation for the future,” Paul says. “Then they will be able to have the life that is true life.”

It’s every Christ-follower’s mission to serve as God’s hands and feet on Earth by feeding the hungry, healing the sick and housing the homeless. So by making generous giving a spiritual habit and thus being rich towards God, we’ll become more like Jesus to help change our community for the better. Christ’s admonition here is stark yet reassuring:

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

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