How wealthy are you?

With the rising cost of living and global inflation, it seems like a good time to take pause to ask, “How wealthy am I?” A few days to the close of 2022, one of the pastors was doing the call for tithes and offerings and she made a statement that has stuck with me for the past few months. She said, “our wealth is not measured in how much we have but in how much we give away” and that stopped me in my tracks. People who know me well know that I am very generous almost to a fault. I used to give freely of my time and resources without second thoughts but lately I have become stingy. I started noticing that people were either taking advantage of my generosity or not reciprocating and I felt cheated. I felt like I deserved better and so decided to hold back. Of course as with all my life’s decisions I presented my new found disposition to God and this is what He had to say about it:

Seeking recognition or recompense for a good deed done:

I was chatting with my sister a few month ago and she shared with me how God has been dealing with her in terms of seeking recognition and wanting people to repay us for our good deeds. She shared that in many ways when we do a good deed, when we are kind, and generous, we have acted as messengers of God and indeed we are, as the hands and feet of Jesus. Messengers are sent to deliver messages, goods or services and to report back to the one that sent them. If praises/ thanks are offered, the messenger is to be relaying that information back to who ever sent him/ her. Expecting to be repaid for our gratitude or seeking recognition for our generous deeds is like a messenger who goes to deliver a package on behalf of another and takes the credit for the content of the package without duly referring that credit to the one that sent him/her. As God’s hands and feet, he empowers everyday to bring hope to the world around us in various ways through our generosity of money, time, intellect, and resources. And yes while it feels good to be appreciated, we must remember that the ultimate glory MUST go to God and He WILL NOT share that glory with anyone. He is the rewarder of men and women and when we start to look to people for rewards for our good deeds, then we have totally missed the mark. Here are a few scriptures that come to mind to buttress this point:

My name is the LORD! I won’t let idols or humans share my glory and praise.

Isaiah 42:8 CEV

Feeling cheated because there appears to be no reciprocity and returns for my generosity:

A few weeks ago, I attended a worship seminar and the guest speaker said something that brought me to tears. He said, “God blesses the things in your heart that are a reflection of His heart.” The reason this simple statement convicted me so much is at that at the root cause of my dissatisfaction about being generous is the fact that I have felt like God does not notice. I have sometimes felt like a pushover because even though people have taken advantage of my generosity, I do not stop giving. I have often felt compelled by something greater than myself to be kind and loving and generous and lately because I have felt that it has gone unnoticed, I have been discouraged from pouring out so much of myself into others. At the heart of this issue is 90% the need for recognition and some returns for all my generosity and 10% compassion fatigue.

About compassion fatigue- Really and truly, there should be no room compassion fatigue when we are tapped into the source of compassion who is Love Himself. I have found when we take our eyes of Jesus who is our exceedingly great reward and we focus our eyes on what we think our reward should be- financial or otherwise- then we get compassion fatigue when the reward is not forthcoming. With our eyes on Jesus, how can we tire of being compassionate when His love flows through our veins? When His heartbeat for people become our life’s purpose?

So today as I take stock, these questions are very relevant, How wealthy am I? How much of my time, resources, giftings, intellect, money, worldly possessions do I give away for the benefit of others in service of my Master Jesus? In what ways am I the hands and feet of Jesus?

Yours Truly.

Wealth Management: Expectations

Money… money… money… let’s talk money! This week my bible readings led me to 1 Chronicles 29 where I have learnt so much about money and how we ought to respond to wealth or lack of it. I will break this reading into different sections and I believe that there will be something in it for everyone. If you are so inclined join me to read the whole chapter for context.

The expectation of leaders towards giving

Many times you find the leaders of God’s people encouraging members of their churches to give to support the work of God. When I used to facilitate the offering session in my church, I would quote all sorts of scriptures to encourage the people about God’s faithfulness towards a cheerful giver. In 1 Chronicles 29 though something unique happens. The people are encouraged not because their leaders motivate them with great speeches and scriptures. This is why they are motivated to give:

And the people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given to the LORD freely and wholeheartedly. 1 Chronicles 29:9a BSB

They were encouraged by how much their leaders gave freely and wholeheartedly. Their leaders walked the talk and lived a life of sacrificial giving and so the people were encouraged to do the same. Regardless of whatever capacity in which you serve God  (whether as a leader with a recognized position or not), it is imperative that we not only do so in words but in deed also and our practice of giving must reflect same. And yes although there are many other things we give to God, I am specifically referring to money in this blog.

What is the expectation of those who have in abundance?

O LORD our God, from Your hand comes all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy Name, and all of it belongs to You. I know, my God, that You test the heart and delight in uprightness. All these things I have given willingly and with an upright heart, and now I have seen Your people who are present here giving joyfully and willingly to You. O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this desire forever in the intentions of the hearts of Your people, and direct their hearts toward You. 1 Chronicles 29:16 – 18 BSB

The first thing that is required of those who are comfortable financially, is to acknowledge the source of your wealth. It is from the hand of God that wealth passes on to us but not only that, He still owns it all. Wealth that comes from God is like a loan. And while we are not required to pay it back like a traditional loan, we are expected to be worthy stewards of the money, attributing ownership to the source who is God Himself.

God also expects that we mirror the generosity in which he gives us wealth with others (see the parable of the servant who was forgiven his debt- Matthew 18:21-35) and to do so willingly and joyfully. In addition, God also expects that our hearts be directed towards him at all times so that we are not consumed by the love of money. When God Himself is our Inheritance and treasure, our hearts will be constantly directed towards him for where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also (Psalm 16: 5; Matthew 6:21).

There may be another group of you reading this and thinking to yourselves “I do not think this applies to me! I barely have enough every month”! or you are thinking, “I am not financially comfortable even though I try to be generous. What about me?”

What about me? I am barely surviving financially…

If you fall into this category, you are not alone. Many of us live in this sphere with you or straddle this category from time to time. My greatest encouragement since starting this blog has been from Psalm 23:1. I am encouraged that whatever I have at every moment of my life is enough for that moment because God is my shepherd and so I want for nothing!

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in heaven and on earth belongs to You. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler over all. In Your hands are power and might to exalt and give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks, and we praise Your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 BSB

It is God that blesses. He not only gives wealth but also the ability to produce wealth (Deut 8:18). He blesses the work of our hands and makes it prosperous; He gives us divinely-inspired ideas as to how to make and save money; and He drives away the devourer for our sakes so that the money we make whether little or a lot meets our daily, weekly, or monthly needs. And what does God expect of those in this category (and frankly from everyone): Thanksgiving.

When I reflect through the eyes of thanksgiving here is what I see: that there are times when I think I will not be able to pay my bills but I do; that those months when I have felt the financial strain the most, no one in my household has been sick requiring care, my car has not broken down and neither has anything in my home required fixing or replacing. God has preserved the little I have enabling me to stretch my income to the last dollar to meet my needs and He deserves to be praised for that feat of greatness! God, I give you thanks and bless your Holy name.

I have been encouraged by  1 Chronicles 29 and if you have been encouraged too then share this blog with your friends. Don’t forget as usual to leave your comments as well so we learn together.

Yours Truly.