I ’m not really one to follow instructions. Anyone who knows me will confirm it. Following instructions is difficult for me because I am inclined toward doing as I please.
The friction comes when I am called to do what pleases God. What pleases God is for us to store our “treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
I don’t know anyone that feels rich. In fact, the entire idea of wealth in the Western world is distorted. We tend to think that being rich means having a summer home and a winter cabin, a solid portfolio and well-diversified investments to keep us from economic harm and many digits in a bank account – just in case. The words in Ecclesiastes 5:10 resonate: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.”
The rest of the world thinks of being rich as having running water, food for three meals per day, childhood education and employment to cover basic living costs. I don’t mean to make us feel guilty, but I want us to be reminded of our abundance. We may not always feel rich when we run out of money eight days before payday, when we can’t pay for brake repairs on our cars, or when we haven’t bought new clothes in a while, but we are, in fact, prosperous.
“God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. … You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).
More than anything else, money forces a partnership from us that is opposite to a commitment to God and His kingdom. The person who has everything he or she could possibly need will find it very difficult to ever find God.
In the pages of this issue, you will come across stories of generous giving and examples of people who have taken the tithe to the next level — understanding that tithing makes a good floor but a bad ceiling. You will also find our Giving Guide for SEED Livelihood Network and International Child Care Ministries. We will learn to navigate the tension between reason and risk. We will learn that in order to grow in godliness, we increasingly surrender our financial lives to Christ. This is, after all, mostly about the Spirit of God stretching our faith, growing our generosity and differentiating us from the world in order to make us into something new.
Scripture instructs us we are God’s stewards over all of His creation, and He wants us to look after one another and help heal the world.