“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
-- Matthew 25:23
Which names come to mind when you hear the word "rich?" A famous athlete or celebrity? Bill Gates, Peyton Manning...or maybe Donald Trump?
How about you?
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 likely--a bag of chips or a tub of chocolate ice cream. And when we run low on supplies, a quick trip to the supermarket or gourmet shop re-fills the fridge in no time.
Even Americans who receive government aid are rich by the world's standards. But regardless of our place on the economic ladder, all Christ-followers are called to give richly because God continues to bless us with so much every day.
But here's a secret: God really doesn't need our money.
That's an odd message--particularly since it's coming from a church. But since God can 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 do Christ-followers give their time, talents and a portion of their incomes to the church? First, God is the ultimate giver--and He wants us to be that way, too. Think about the many gifts God has given us. Everyone's vary somewhat, but they tend to include things like health, job, home, family, friends and church. And of course there's God's ultimate gift: the forgiveness of our sins and an eternal relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus.
God also wants everyone to be a cheerful giver--particularly one who refuses to hoard their blessings. But to do this, 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 turmoil. Just ask anyone these days with a 401k.
What's the benefit of sharing our money, time and possessions? As the Apostle Paul explains it through the Book of 1 Timothy, giving back richly towards God and His purposes renders much more than just a warm feeling of satisfaction. Think of it as a guaranteed high yield investment with dividends that you'll enjoy forever in the world to come. In fact, God challenges us on our preconceived notions about money. Through His design, giving richly results in getting more:
"By doing that, they will be saving a treasure for themselves as a strong foundation for the future," Paul explains. "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 being rich towards God, we'll become more like Jesus to help change our community, the world--and ourselves--for the better.