By Daryl Largis, Co-Pastor for Mission Advancement
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. ~1 Chronicles 29:11-12
This is King David’s prayer of praise after the overwhelming generosity demonstrated by the people of Israel to fund the building of the temple. He goes on to say in verse 14, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” David had a keen sense of who owned everything. He echoed this understanding in Psalms as well, as he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).
So it is clear that King David understood ownership—more precisely, who owned everything. As king he alone could, if anyone could, lay claim to owning something, but he did not. This concept of ownership is vital for us today to fully understand. If we miss who owns it all, we will never understand true generosity, nor will we understand the generous nature of God. God does own it all, but yet He allows us to be stewards of His creation. In fact, He expects us to be good stewards of His creation which includes not only nature but also everything in it, including money and other resources.
So, as it relates to money some have the courage to ask, “God, what do you want me to do with my money?” I certainly applaud the effort but the perspective of ownership in this approach is not as it should be. The question we should muster the courage to ask and answer on a continual basis is, “God, what do you want me to do with your money?” This is a much better question to ask and answer given it acknowledges the fact that God owns everything and we are merely stewards of that which He has given us. For you see, God has always been concerned with how we view, handle and manage our money. It was true in the times of King David and it was true nearly 100 years ago as articulated by author David McConaughy in Money, the Acid Test:
Money, most common of temporal things, involves uncommon and eternal consequences. Even though it may be done quite unconsciously, money molds people—in the process of getting it, of saving it, of using it, of giving it, of accounting for it. Depending upon how it is handled, it proves a blessing or a curse to its possessor; either the person becomes master of the money, or the money becomes master of the person. Our Lord takes money, the thing that, essential though it is to our common life, sometimes seems so sordid, and he makes it a touchstone to test the lives of people and an instrument for molding them into the likeness of himself.
So, there is a purpose to why God is so aware of how we manage our resources, our time and our money. How and what we do proves our allegiances. Our decisions and motivations prove beyond doubt our faith and in what or in whom we place our trust. Money in and of itself is neutral but it proves to be a very effective test every time we think about it, make decisions with it, spend it or give it. How we use it determines the good or bad done with it. In a sense, our hearts, our passions and our desires determine the outcome as it relates to our money. Essentially it comes down to the question of can we be trusted. Can God trust us with money? For if we can be found trustworthy with money whether a little or a lot, according to Scripture God will give us additional things of more value which is ultimately for His glory, His purposes and our benefit. Most understand that God has a purpose in and for our lives, but fewer comprehend that money proves very effective in shaping us more and more into who He desires us to be.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” ~Luke 16:10-12
So, there are ramifications in the present as it relates to what we do with God’s money and there are eternal ones as well. It is wise for us to understand that how we handle money has eternal consequences.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” ~Matthew 6:19-20
We are commanded by Jesus to invest in heaven. How do we do that? Well, one of the most effective ways is to invest our resources, our time, and our money in the things consistent with the purposes of God in this world today which flow from His heart. He is on mission to reconcile all of creation back to Himself through Christ, and as Christ-followers we should be investing in activity that is supportive of this mission. We should give not from compulsion or even obligation but from a grateful heart. We don’t have to give because we get to give. The position of our hearts is the key given there is a simple relationship between our heart and our money. Where we sacrificially spend our money is where our hearts will be, our loyalties will lay and our allegiances will form. Jesus, the Son of God, knew this and stated, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
We as Americans have much when compared to the rest of the world. We may have less than our immediate neighbor but for the most part we are considered not only well-to-do but also rich in the eyes of the majority of the people living on this planet. As such, I believe much is expected from us as it relates to how we financially support the work of God in this world. We should be the most generous because we have been given the most.
So, as you consider your finances and your ability to give. Please ask God, “What would You like for me to do with Your money?” Have the courage then to answer that question and begin to take steps, even small ones, that over time will enable you and your family to live life abundantly through generosity as you and I, and hopefully all of God’s people, resource His mission in this world. I close this article by saying that giving to Kingdom Come, while not the only way to express our commitment to what God is doing in this world, is a great way to demonstrate it. Kingdom Come continues to be a powerful force that God is using on behalf of The Chapel to further His mission here in WNY, in this nation and in this world. We, as people who call The Chapel home, have a unique opportunity to declare in our lives the true ownership of our wealth by being generous. May God speak and work in unique ways in your life and mine as we answer the question, “God, what would You have me do with Your money?” while reflecting upon the following passages of Scripture:
“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” ~Proverbs 11:24-25
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they many take hold of the life that is truly life.” ~1 Timothy 6:17-19