Money & others’ needs: how much joy do we want?

Para información en Español, contacte a Alex (alex@christoscommunity.org).

What about when we don’t live ‘hand to mouth’ or pay check to pay check?  Or what about even when we are living without much money (as the widow Jesus commended in Luke 21)?  Is there joy to be found in being an agent of God for the benefit of others?  You betchya!

Here in the US we have many choices with our ‘extra’ money…

  1. we could spend it on things for us (or those we love) to enjoy
  2. we could save it in case we need it in the future
  3. we could even try to grow wealth through investing
  4. we could give it

But first… do we have ‘extra’?  I thought extra money was just for the rich.  Are we rich?

Are we “rich”?

Here are some statistics from November of 2017 gathered by a global bank (Credit Suisse).  In this chart, net worth, or “wealth”, is what is owned by households, minus their debts. This corresponds to the balance sheet that a household might draw up, listing the items which are owned, and their net value if sold. Private pension fund assets are included, but not entitlements to state pensions [like social security].

Hmm… so if all our household balance sheet totals to more than $10,000 USD, we have more money than 70% of the world.  That sounds rich to me.

What does scripture say to the rich to help them find maximum joy?

1 Tim 6:17-19

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

So, rather than James warns: “you have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter” (James 5:5), we can follow missionary martyr, Jim Elliot’s advice: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Is saving and investing always a path to joy?

But what does that look like?  I thought we were supposed to have an emergency fund and a retirement account?

Sound financial wisdom that focuses on this life says that saving is a good idea.  Proverbs, in fact has a lot to say about it (see the worksheet on material wisdom here).  But the Bible also says wealth is bad & we should give it all away.  Which is it?  Should we save and plan or should we give away and only store up heavenly treasure?

These verses seem to say it’s a bad idea:

Jer 48:7a

For, because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken;

Jer 49:4

Why do you boast of your valleys, O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’

Prov 11:28

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.

 

And so does this passage, with an important caveat at the end that gives us the key to the balance between these two scriptural pricinciples:

Luke 12:13-21

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

How would you describe in your own words the important caveat to saving that Christ gives here?

 

 

 

Not cutting off our joy

Is there any giving we are required to do?  Yes.  God established the tithe in order to provide for those who served as spiritual shepherds.  And the requirement to provide for the support of those who serve as ministers is in the New Testament as well.

1 Timothy 5

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

1 Corinthians 9

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

 

Eternal portfolio

If you have a retirement portfolio, you may periodically look at the percentages… different asset classes you have invested money in and the return on those investments.  What if we thought about building our eternal portfolio in the same way?  We might end up like Jonathan Edwards who pursued his joy in Christ with such passion he even called it ‘violence.’  Or we might be like John Wesley or Rick Warren, who give away most all of their income!  Maybe it would look like just increasing giving 2% each year to try to get as close as we can to that goal before we cross over to glory?

Giving to missionaries of Unreached People Groups

One of our sisters who worshiped us with us a few years ago married and then they went to an unreached people group in a closed country.  It’s a costly calling, but full of joy.  How amazing would it be to see people in heaven who were there because we were not content to give our time, treasure, and talent to the reached areas of the world?  Here’s some statistics to help put this opportunity in perspective:

group % population % income % workers
Reached (e.g. Philippines) 40% 1.7% 99.995%
Unevangelized (             ) 17% 0.005% 0.0039%
Unreached (e.g. Somalia) 42% 0.001% 0.00067%

Source: http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats/

Planning for joy: ________

What opportunities to be a blessing to others get you the most excited?

 

 

What can you do to take steps in that direction?

 

 

Resources

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/lifestyle/

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/the-poor/

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/giving-to-the-poor/

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/giving/

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/investing/

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/retirement/

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/inheritance/

https://compass1.org/the-bible-on-money/riches-and-wealth/