There seem to be two dominant myths out there, that deal with the subjects of wealth and money, and how Christians should be handling them. These beliefs are quite strong and widespread, and I believe the resulting worldview is keeping many from being part of the big picture, and making a difference in this world.Myth #1 – Christians should not seek to make a lot of money, live very modestly and be content with little – or in essence be poor. They shouldn’t pursue their dreams, attract attention or do anything else that might cause them to make ties with this world because after all, Jesus called us to give up everything, to be His followers.
Myth #2 – The true spiritual state of a Christian is evident in his material wealth, meaning that, if you are a ‘good’ Christian you will be ‘blessed’, which will be evident in the neighbourhood you live in, the car you drive and the vacations you can afford, because after all, God wants you to have life, and have it more abundantly, right?
Let’s talk about this. Since having a roof over your head, a car to drive and a cell phone in your pocket puts us into the ‘rich’ class, or better yet; making over 35K a year puts us into the top 1% of the entire world population, the problem with believing the first myth is, that, if poor people really are holier and more blessed than rich people, most of us are in trouble. As a matter of fact, if that’s the case, then we should quit helping the poor and give away all our money and possessions, so that we can be blessed too!
But if wealth is indeed an indicator of our state of holiness, maturity and blessing, then how do we ‘rank’ the remaining 99% of the world?
The heart issue is in the mindset and the resulting perspective.
A scarcity mindset or the spirit of poverty focuses only on ‘me’ and ‘my’ needs, while pointing fingers at those who are better off, and judging the motive of their possessions. It comes with all the works including envy and jealousy and says something like this, ‘How many wells could they have drilled in Africa for the money this guy’s house is worth?’ Interestingly enough, this mindset goes way back……remember Judas telling Jesus, ‘We could have sold this perfume and given the money to the poor!’?
These are also the folks that remind us of the rich young ruler and the eye of the needle dilemma. But if you read the whole passage, the issue of this young man wasn’t the money, but his love of it. He depended on it and was attached to it. And so, the paragraph (structure inserted by man for ease of use and navigation) ends, and we assume it’s the end of the story. However, it keeps going; when the young man walks away, Jesus tells his disciples in Mark 10 that those who leave everything behind in order to follow Him, will reap hundredfold NOW, with persecutions, and eternal life to come.
No, this is not the prosperity gospel or else Jesus would have run after him, called him back and bribed him with the ‘give and you will get’ message! No. It’s a heart issue. After all, one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is “For Money is the root of all evil….” Actually it says:
For the love of money is the root of all evil. 1 Tim 6:10a KJV
So what does the Bible teach about wealth, and why did Jesus distribute wealth the way he did, when He told the story of the talents? Remember, when He took away from the one who had little to begin with, and gave it to the one who had received more initially? Seems unfair if you don’t understand the principle, doesn’t it? But it was about stewardship and it still is today.
Think about it, no one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if he didn’t have cash. And for Mary to carry around one year’s worth of savings in a bottle of perfume, and bless Jesus when the opportunity came, implies that she, too understood stewardship.
You cannot give what you do not have.
The abundance mindset believes that wealth comes from God and that we are stewards thereof. It’s not how much we have, it’s whose it is, that matters. We don’t own it. We get to steward it and live with the consequences.
A friend once told me that if she had a lot of money, she would give it all to missionaries and poor people. The thing is that with that mindset and attitude she never will have a lot of money. God will only entrust us with more, when we prove our faithfulness with little, and even then it won’t just fall from heaven!
Money will magnify who you have been all along, and if we can’t steward little, what makes us think that we will be able to steward much? Consider the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus never did ask for the rich and famous in the crowd to give out of their abundance. There was one person however, who was not afraid of giving it all – a considerably small amount – but capable of feeding many with Gods multiplication factor. I really think God looked onto that young man and thought, ‘Finally! One, whom I can trust with more, and whom I can use to be My pipeline.’
Fact is, poor people can’t feed poor people. And people who are only concerned about themselves and their ‘Christian’ reputation and what other people might think of them, their house, their car, or their business, – however big or small – need to awaken to the fact that what we have is not ours. We get to steward and manage it. And we will give an account, and will be rewarded accordingly. Let’s also not forget that what we consider ‘rich’, has a different value system in God’s economy.
If you get in the presence of a rich God you will see how poor you are. Pride can’t live in the presence of God. ~Robert Morris
With that kind of a mindset sacrificial giving, whatever that may mean in your current circumstaces, doesn’t hurt. With that kind of a mindset we are confident in our calling and ministry to get out there, work with integrity, build with passion, and take over the marketplace for a greater cause and a nobler purpose, while having a positive impact on the people we get to serve every day. We will not hide behind false humility and will not be bogged down with selfish ambitions, but understand that the One who has entrusted us with what we have, has a bigger plan and chooses to use us as part of that plan. That’s a great responsibility indeed, and I want to be a good and faithful servant when it’s all said and done.
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