Tag Archives: Money

More Blessed to Give

“I think I’m mad at God.” It took less than 7 hours for this anger to turn into grateful joy. My friend texted me this afternoon to say it’s been hard to have faith that God can turn his situation around. “And the more I hear about how good he is, I’m just like, ‘yeah, to you….'”

Last week he was enjoying the freedom of self-employment, until he found his bank account below zero. This brought back a feeling of scarcity that he’s been fighting for a long time. The Lord had allowed him to struggle financially for years, and it was hard to believe that this would ever change.

And so, like Dmitri Karamazov, he went on a desperate hunt for money. He sold a computer monitor and a book to a shop for $6. “Six dollars for a monitor?!” It was hardly worth the gas to get there, but he took the money anyway.

What changed? The first thing is just how you might expect God to turn this around: a $30 tip. But he found that what turned things around the most was not receiving, but giving.

One of my friend’s gigs is motivational phone calls to help people set and keep goals. A potential client has been working to save up money for these calls, and today my friend saw his need and decided to give him a discount. He saw how much his calls could help this person, and realized that the only reason he didn’t offer the discount sooner is that he needed the money.

Later, as he spent some of his little money on gas, a woman approached him and asked for money. He was filled with a desire to help her, and apologized that he only had $10 to give her.

Finally, a man washed his car windows, and when my friend tried to pay him $5 the man said he did it for free. My friend insisted on paying him, saying “My pastor says ‘Show your money who’s boss and give it away.'”

And so he called me tonight to tell me how his day was completely turned around. “The shift was realizing that when I focus on serving, I can see how much I’m blessed.” The call was briefly interrupted as he was almost run over while getting into his car. His car door took off the side mirror of the driver, who just kept driving, and my friend happily told a bystander “The Lord protected me!”

Christians have a natural inclination to give to the needy, and this is the antidote to covetousness. A generous heart sees past the cares of this life, and is glad to be a part of God’s story of redemption. If you’re upset about your financial situation, the strange solution might be to give something away.

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Acts 20:32-35

Proverbs 30:7-9, Robinson Crusoe on Middle-Class Contentment

Some aim for poverty and some aim for riches, but wisdom teaches us to aim somewhere in the middle. Agur son of Jakeh gives the following inspired advice:

Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die; remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Proverbs 30:7-9

The goal is not to have a high or low amount of cash or property; the goal is to be holy. Riches come with temptations to pride, and poverty brings temptations to steal. Inspired by these verses, Robinson Crusoe’s father counsels him against a life at sea.

My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design.  He called me one morning into his chamber, where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmly with me upon this subject.  He asked me what reasons, more than a mere wandering inclination, I had for leaving father’s house and my native country, where I might be well introduced, and had a prospect of raising my fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure.  He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour and sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind.  He told me I might judge of the happiness of this state by this one thing—viz. that this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable consequence of being born to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this, as the standard of felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.

He bade me observe it, and I should always find that the calamities of life were shared among the upper and lower part of mankind, but that the middle station had the fewest disasters, and was not exposed to so many vicissitudes as the higher or lower part of mankind; nay, they were not subjected to so many distempers and uneasinesses, either of body or mind, as those were who, by vicious living, luxury, and extravagances on the one hand, or by hard labour, want of necessaries, and mean or insufficient diet on the other hand, bring distemper upon themselves by the natural consequences of their way of living; that the middle station of life was calculated for all kind of virtue and all kind of enjoyments; that peace and plenty were the handmaids of a middle fortune; that temperance, moderation, quietness, health, society, all agreeable diversions, and all desirable pleasures, were the blessings attending the middle station of life; that this way men went silently and smoothly through the world, and comfortably out of it, not embarrassed with the labours of the hands or of the head, not sold to a life of slavery for daily bread, nor harassed with perplexed circumstances, which rob the soul of peace and the body of rest, nor enraged with the passion of envy, or the secret burning lust of ambition for great things; but, in easy circumstances, sliding gently through the world, and sensibly tasting the sweets of living, without the bitter; feeling that they are happy, and learning by every day’s experience to know it more sensibly.

Robinson Crusoe, p. 3-4

Robinson’s father has proved by experience that the middle class life allows a man to live virtuously and enjoy God’s creation with minimal hardships. He earned his living by hard work, but he always had enough food, and his problems were much smaller than those of great men. His work did not feel like slavery to man or to ambition. After a life of hard work, he was able to offer his son the opportunity to live the same kind of life.

It is good to aspire toward this middle-class life. It is good to have possessions that can be shared with others in their time of need. It is good to raise children in a stable household. It is good to enjoy God’s blessings and praise Him. And it is good to minimize the various temptations that come from both poverty and riches.