Numbers. We seem to be mesmerized by them in today’s society. The larger, the better. Or at least this seems to be the general trend. We rarely like or even pay attention to small numbers… we love them primarily when they hang on the price tag. But most of the time they are unimportant.
Granted, in certain areas of life a number might be directly related to the importance of the issue at hand, but this shouldn’t be the rule of thumb because the reality is different. Each one is significant.
This small thought was provoked by a brief youtube ad ( one of those that show before the video plays). A female voice speaks of the fact that every 3 seconds a girl is forced into marriage. It’s a campaign by Plan Nederland (in Dutch only, sorry).
It’s not the campaign itself or the video (as relevant and as good as they are) that made me pause for a moment. It was the emphasis on the numbers.
My very first thought was – would I be hearing about this if there were only one girl forced into marriage… or only one child dying from hunger and poverty… or only one person affected by the overwhelming waves of the tsunami?
It’s a very special thing – the truth. I realize that I’ve often not appreciated all of its power. Looking back at many of my conversations with other believers, I see that others have underestimated the power of the truth, as well. I see that it’s a more wide-spread problem that one might think at first.
What am I on about… Well, it began with the question – Do I really need to prove the truth when I talk about my faith with non-believers? This has always bothered me, but over the years of my Christian life I’ve continually been taught how to defend the truth. So I presumed that the truth needs to be defended, proven, protected. Well, it doesn’t. The truth remains what it is independently of one’s choice to fight against it or to rejoice with it.
So, you have managed to see yourself as blessed. Moreover, you now see yourself as rich, too. You went ahead and also invested your riches and multiplied them. What’s the next step? What does the Bible teach about the third step which completes the cycle?
Give. As simple as that. But give like you mean it. Not a bit here and a bit there to suit and maintain clear your own conscience.
Happily, there’s a starting point set for us already – 10%. This is what God instructed his people to give in the Old Testament and Jesus confirmed in the New. It’s important also to realize that this is not a piece of advice given to us which we can decide to follow only when we wish to. Tithe, the 10% – it’s not optional.
Before we move on to the really difficult part, however, let’s have a look at Malachi 3:10. It’s one of the many verses which by their misinterpretations a lot of people have turned into walking on a fine line, but in spite of this it remains a promise of God. He says:
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
– Malachi 3:10, NIV
As He often does, when it comes to giving God also attaches a promise to his command. Twisted desires throughout time have led many to believe in giving for the sake of receiving. This, however, is a concept foreign to the Bible. This is not some ages old metaphor of what is today recognized as a vending machine. God doesn’t work on this principle. A true and honest believer knows and recognizes this.
You got the cash. What do you do now? Opposite to what many people today do – invest. The principle of wasteful ownership is simply not present in the Bible, yet it’s not hard to find signs of it in our lives today. I suppose it has to do with the influence of the world around and the wrong belief that Christians should not get rich. I’m going to take you on a walk on the edge for a bit, so bear with me.
God blesses us with various things in life and with not a single one of them does he expect us to selfishly go on and selfishly keep to ourselves. Or in other words – own wastefully. There are plenty of examples of this from the Word, one of the clearest of which is found in Matthew 25:14-30. It’s a story about money but I see it also as a story of trust. The master entrusted his servants with his wealth. Two of them picked up on that and went ahead to multiply it. The third one played it safe.
Today, you and I are entrusted with more wealth than we could count. But what do we do with it? Yes, many complain that they’re poor and can’t do much to help it… But read the previous part of the series for more on resolving this. Am I doing enough today to multiply the wealth I have been given? Am I going to dig out the one buck from the back yard or will I have a whole bag to carry back to my master? In other words – do you invest your blessings or you simply enjoy them?
Let’s talk a bit about wealth. The wealth which is given to us by God. It is mostly non-material, but I’d argue that there is quite a bit of “stuff” that God gives us gladly – and we receive in a similar fashion. It’s so often that we pray for God to give us this or that… and He does. But the first question to ask ourselves is: How long does it usually last us? That excitement, that recognition, that fulfillment.
So, let me ask you another one: When was the last time you looked at yourself, your life and the life around you and you said “I’m rich!“?
I honestly don’t meet too many people who share about such experiences with me. Up until recently I myself had issues recognizing everything which has been given to me. Then in a series of unfortunate events I actually was awaken and realized that, if I claim that I’m blessed by God, I ought to also consider myself as such. Put next to that the fact that when God gives, HE GIVES. It’s not like He’s joking around – He always gives exactly what is needed. This is how I came to the thought that recognizing God’s blessings should define my status as rich.
Today, with the immense growth of consumerism, gadget possession and whatever else there is that money can buy and which (we believe) defines us, it’s increasingly more difficult to count oneself as rich. There’s always going to be someone above us. Someone who went on the next i-Thing cue first, someone who managed to go up in the pre-order list… Someone who’s making a six-digit salary in EUR per year. I find it very interesting that so many people tend to compare ourselves with those who are better, have more, etc. Why is it that for once we can’t compare with the poorer, the needy, the hungry? I think I know part of the answer, and it fits in one word only: responsibility.