Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The world provides enough for every man’s need but not for every man’s greed.” It’s easy to say things like, “The rich should really give to the poor and solve world hunger!” However, when the giving strikes closer to home, it can be tougher than we think.
A pastor once said, “Living right financially isn’t complicated; it may be difficult, but it isn’t complicated.” It’s difficult because living right financially is more than simply learning financial strategy and management techniques; living right financially has spiritual components as well. It’s important to have a godly view of money and to use it in the correct way.
You may have seen the quote by American syndicated humorist Art Buchwald,1 “The best things in life aren’t things.” It has a way of popping up in my mind whenever I’m about to buy a new gadget that I’ve seen advertised or exchange a household appliance for the latest model. Sometimes I give in anyway, but at least this saying usually helps me give the purchase some extra thought and consideration.
My husband and I spent a year in a small town in Tanzania. When I say a “small town,” I mean a town with two stoplights, no supermarket, no restaurants to speak of, only one two-story building, and no entertainment! We lived in a simple house with only the most basic furnishings and conveniences.
A few Christmases ago, as I was standing in the doorway of a department store, enjoying a lovely Nativity scene in a store window, a mother and her little girl came hurrying by. Catching a glimpse of the beautiful scene, the child grabbed her mother’s hand and exclaimed, “Mama! Mama! Please let me stop for a minute and look at Jesus!” But her mother replied wearily that they weren’t even half through with their shopping list and didn’t have time to stop. Then she walked on, dragging her disappointed daughter behind her.
As a child, I loved to visit my grandmother Sabina’s small house in the mountains. Aunt Iota lived next door, so my sister and I would spend our days exploring with our cousins, going to the waterfall, swimming in the river that ran behind the property, or climbing the many mountains in the Mantigueira Ridge. It was heaven on earth for a city girl like me.
I told My disciples that every hair of their heads was counted and that not one sparrow falls to the ground without My Father knowing about it. I told them that they didn’t need to worry about their material needs, that if they trusted and followed Me, I would make sure their needs were met.1
Well, not literally. I can explain.
At the start of last year, I made a resolution to not purchase any new clothes or shoes that year. I had a combination of reasons for that:
The apostle Paul addressed the issue of wealth in 1 Timothy 6:8–10: “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”1 Having money is not wrong, but loving money is. The abundance of money or the lack of money is less important than our spiritual condition.
Just about everyone is excited to receive a gift. There is something wonderful about knowing that someone cared enough to think about what you would like, shopped for it or created it themselves, and gave it to you.
There is also a special joy in giving gifts. When you find a gift that you know the recipient will love, it’s fun to present it to them. The recipient’s delight becomes a gift to you and inspires you to keep giving. But stop and think for a moment of all the gifts you’ve received in your life so far, and which ones have stood out.