“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