Many Christians today are uncertain about God’s position on wealth, and therefore uncertain about what their attitude toward money should be. Some preach “abundant living”—that wealth is proof of a Christian’s faith and a sign of God’s approval. Others condemn wealth and frown on Christians who amass personal fortunes. People of both persuasions back up their stances with scripture. In actuality, the Bible is more balanced.
The sun was slipping below the horizon as I drove up the narrow two-lane road in central Mexico. I glanced at my wife, Amber, sleeping next to me. In the rearview mirror I could see our three daughters—Tory, the brilliant four-year-old; Shelly, who had just turned two and hardly seemed to stop talking; and baby Vanessa. All were also fast asleep. I considered stopping for coffee, but decided against it. Stopping would surely wake everyone up. Plus we were in a race against time. I didn’t mind driving in the evening, when the children were asleep and the vehicle was cool. It also gave me time to think. I needed that. It had been a long year!
One thing that makes life stressful and even worrisome at times is a lack of money.That’s when it’s important to remember that God is the source of financial supply. “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”1 It’s His to give, and He’s happy to give it. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”2 But no matter how much God wants to help you out, if your financial “house” is missing some of the main pillars, it won’t stand. You need to believe God is able to supply, and then ask and take action. That’s where knowledge, good business sense, and planning come in. Thankfully, God has given an abundance of practical advice on how to put yourself in the best position to receive His financial blessings.
You don’t have to be a millionaire to give what you’ve got. There is not one of God’s children who cannot afford to give something to help others less fortunate. You may think you can’t afford to give, or you may not be able to give a lot at first, but God blesses everybody that gives. If you’re not rich, that’s all the more reason to give, so God can bless you and help you have more.
Giving puts us in a healthier relationship with our possessions and with the material world in which we live.We like making money, but we enjoy other things as well, such as the love of our family, belonging to community, a sense of meaning, accomplishment, contribution, and service. We enjoy making a positive difference in the lives of other people. But how do we maintain balance and perspective? How can we appropriately secure the basic needs of food, shelter, education, and health while also living with purpose? How do we avoid too much preoccupation with the things that do not ultimately satisfy, and cultivate those things that do? The intentional practice of generosity helps us keep our priorities straight.
Knowing that I am actively involved in several charitable projects here in India,an acquaintance introduced me to some of his friends from the business community at a party we all attended. They happened to be discussing The Giving Pledge, an initiative headed by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Those three had challenged 400 American billionaires to commit to donating at least 50% of their net worth to charity and social causes in their lifetimes.
A few months ago I quoted Philip Yancey saying, in so many words, that Christians don’t have the option of ignoring problems, especially when it is within their power to improve things. Christians are called to make the world a better place.
Fulfilling that obligation is seldom easy or painless, and one thing that often holds us back is our own financial situation. We have only so much money, and it only goes so far. Altruistic intentions come up against all-too-real constraints. We hurt for others, but must we sacrifice to our own hurt? If we did, how far would it go and how long could we keep it up? I think you’ll find some interesting, inspiring, and innovative answers in this month’s articles.
It was nearly midnight and I was brushing my teeth, already half asleep, when I heard him. He was shouting and mumbling at the same time. Probably a drunk calling to his drinking buddy, I decided.
Half an hour later, I could still hear the man shouting, though I couldn’t make out anything he was saying. Enough was enough! I decided to call the police.
As I passed a window, I saw that the man was standing under a streetlight. He was older than I had imagined, bare-chested in the cold, and yelling right in my direction.
I’ve known Alex for four years. He is 24 years old, has cerebral palsy, and is one of our Women’s Club food delivery recipients. Each time I deliver food, we spend an hour or so talking. “If you could go anywhere in the world,” I asked him several times, “where would you go?” His answer was always the same: St. Petersburg, Russia.
Last year he graduated from university with honors. For his extraordinary achievement he received plane tickets for two to St. Petersburg—a gift from a family that had heard about him through the food delivery program.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
The first time I read these words, I remember thinking they didn’t make sense. That was going to change.
My mom and I had gotten on a bus, and as we walked down the aisle looking for two empty seats together, I noticed a young mother with a toddler and a baby. The toddler was obviously bored, and his mother was struggling to keep him seated while also trying to make her baby more comfortable.