Are you rich? You probably don’t feel like it. In North Ridgeville, the median household income in 2009 was $58,396. If you’re near that, according to the World Wealth Calculator, you are in the wealthiest 1.6% of people in the world. There are more than 6.4 billion people less wealthy than you. Even if you make only 10% of that, you are in the wealthiest 27.5%.
Possessing wealth is not a sin, so before your eyes glaze over more from the numbers, ask yourself this question: Why did God make me one of the wealthiest people on earth?
Martin Luther said, “Every man needs two conversions: the first of his heart, the second of his wallet”. St. Paul said it even more clearly:
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:6-12, NLT)
Yet as long as we cling desperately to our money instead of using it for God’s purposes, we remain slaves to it. We fear losing it and worry that we don’t have enough, and more tightly we cling to it, the more likely it’ll slip through our fingers like sand. In Christ, we have inherited not just financial income, but the Kingdom of God! We have the opportunity to use those overflowing resources to make an eternal investment into the souls of this community and beyond. And when we don’t, here’s how God responds:
“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:8-10, NLT)
God wants nothing from you. He wants freedom for you, and until you’re free from your finances, you’re just wearing a jewel-encrusted ball and chain. It may be pretty, but it’s keeping you from where you could be.
Speaking as one who was only freed from this fear a few years ago, I know how strong the golden bars of the financial prison can be, but I also know how wonderful the freedom is once set free.
Because we value spiritual growth, we’re committed to helping you get free from this enslavement, so I’m offering you a challenge:
Look at how much you give on a regular basis (or look at your latest financial statement from the church), and given that we’re about 83% through the year, figure out what percent of your income you give if you don’t automatically give a certain percentage. (Giving / (.083 x Annual Income) = Percent of your income you’ve given). Now, how much more would it be to add just 1% more to that total? (For a weekly estimate, double your annual income and move the decimal left 4 places, so $55,000 would mean an extra $11/week: (5.5×2) beyond what you already give.) Pray that God will bless that offering, and watch God open the windows of heaven as blessings pour out. Then if you find blessing in the giving (and you will), increase another 1% each year. For me, since we currently give 10% (plus 20% extra on the first Sunday of each month for missions), if we stick to this, by the time I’m 81 years old, we’ll be giving away 50% of our income. See how far you can go before God can’t keep up with your generosity. I’ve never seen Him lose that race.
Remember that giving earns us nothing before God, because Jesus already earned everything for us, but since He has saved us and promised to provide, we don’t have to wait to experience that freedom in heaven. By living in His Kingdom, we can experience that freedom today!