Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cash Flow

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

-- 2 Corinthians 9:7

God doesn't really need your money.

That might be one of the last things you'd expect to read in a church newsletter. But think about it. Since God can speak all creation into existence, part the Red Sea with a breath and live among us in human form (through Jesus Christ), it's safe to assume that He doesn't need a hefty bank account or a high limit 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 - His children - to be that way, too. And a great way to start is by considering some of the things we tend to take for granted - the many priceless gifts He gives us every day. Our lists might vary, but they probably include health, job, home, family, friends and church. The fact is that we're all incredibly blessed in countless ways - regardless of our circumstances.

How about God's ultimate gift: the forgiveness of our sins and an eternal relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus? Salvation is one gift that's so expensive we could never buy or earn it ourselves. But since Jesus paid our way through His death on the Cross, it's free to anyone who's willing to accept it.

So although we can't out-give God, we should still become more like Him as we progress in our individual faith journeys. But there's another important issue in this process. God recognizes that people tend to grossly overestimate the true value of money and possessions. It can even get to the point where our money - which should only be our servant - becomes our master. This can happen through constant spending on what we don't really need...and eventually lead to our virtual enslavement when we're over our heads in debt.

That's not the way God wants it for His children. Instead, we're to look to Him - rather than money - as our Provider. The economic and social hardships from the current recession should be constant reminders that bank accounts, careers and 401ks can disappear overnight. Of course, money troubles can also be self-inflicted in even the best economy through greed (think can't-miss stocks and get-rich-quick schemes!), laziness and poor planning.

But here's something to consider that puts it all into perspective: Rich or poor, not one of us really owns anything in this lifetime. Instead, we're simply temporary managers of the resources - our money, time and talents - that God has entrusted to us. The bottom line is that all creation ultimately belongs to the Creator.

As Christ-followers, we're called to serve as God's hands and feet to feed the hungry, heal the sick and house the homeless. And by being generous givers of our money and resources, and making generosity a spiritual habit, we can do just that - and all while becoming more like Him and changing our world for the better.
"Don't store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them," Jesus reminds us. "Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is."

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