This morning’s newspaper reported on the marriage of Donald Trump and Melania, the model. The couple exchanged vows last Saturday (1/22/2005) in West Palm Beach, FL. She wore a dress that weighed 50 pounds and cost $200,000, more than the cost of many American homes. The diamond ring the Donald gave her is worth an estimated $1.5 million. The reception was held in a hall that cost $42 million to renovate. So, here we have a big target at which we could take some cheap shots about excess! It would be easy to wag our collective heads about the Trump style and try to figure out how many hungry children could be fed, how many starving students educated, etc., etc. – with that kind of money. Let’s not!
Instead, let’s confront our own value system. If I had access to billions of dollars in resources like Trump, I would like to think that my value system would be different from his, but when I look at my own acquisitive habits, that hope dims. I’m tempted by materialism, dazzled by trinkets, and prone to greed – just on more limited budget than Trump! As I reflected on that, an old story about a farmer and his minister came to mind. As they stood leaning on the farmyard fence and talking about the church’s ministries, the farmer opined if he had 100 hogs, he would give 10 to the Lord’s work. The preacher listened and then asked, “how about giving 1 of the 10 you do have?” The farmer quickly excused himself from giving noting that he ‘needed’ all of his 10 hogs.
Most of us think that we would do better with generosity and stewardship ‘if we had more’ time and/or money. Another man’s greed and excess is apparent. The same trait in our life is hidden in thrift or ‘need.’ It is tempting to think that we would be filled with largesse if … but the truth, proven time and again, is that our sense of ‘need’ expands along with our store of resources.
Generosity is rooted in faith that God will provide all that we need; that there is abundance, not scarcity. A mentality of scarcity pervades this world. Many people are convinced that there is only such much _______________ (money, love, joy, security) to go around and that if they do not get ____________ (fill in the blank) and protect it, they will go without. A person filled with fear about tomorrow’s provisions will hold onto a miserable job, convinced that he couldn’t get another one. He will refuse to share from his store of supplies convinced that no more is to be found. He will not forgive because he thinks that if he releases an emotional debt he will somehow diminish his own self-worth. This is the lie of scarcity!
The Bible tells us that “God will supply all our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4.19) He is a generous God, who is able to multiply a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000 hungry people a dinner with left-overs! His grace increases proportionately to need the Word says. Are you ready to embrace that truth? Are you ready to trust Him so you can become a generous person?
The Proverbs observe that “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything. The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:24-25, NLT) What a principle. Forget judging Donald Trump. Instead, take a look at the way you spend your resources of time, money, and even love. I hope you find a growing generosity that is in direct proportion to your faith in God’s ability to enlarge your store of resources from His infinite abundance!
Think you don’t have much to give? Meditate on what Jesus said one day when he saw the offering being taken at the Temple. Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” (Mark 12:41-45, The Message)
He’s watching us today. What’s He saying about our gifts?
“Teaching People how to say “Yes” to God!”