|Mercy Street Church of Christ
GROW WEALTHY BY GIVING MONEY AWAY
by Leroy Garrett
Give and it will be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. — Luke 6:38
Isn’t that what Jesus is saying? Giving will make you wealthy! And with that wealth you give even more, and you grow wealthier still! Unfortunately, it is one more of those things that Jesus taught that his followers, especially in the western world, do not believe. We believe in accumulating wealth, not in giving it away, except the money we give that we hardly miss. Amassing wealth, which may not be Christian, is largely a modern phenomenon.
Most people from ancient times have literally lived from “hand to mouth” or from “paycheck to paycheck.” I have often seen this in third-world countries. One works in the field or shop all day to earn enough to buy rice to feed his family for that day. Our Lord referred to this in what we call the Lord’s Prayer — “Give us this day our daily bread,” but we who hoard our money cannot really pray in those terms, for we already have sufficient “bread” stored up for years to come.
But one doesn’t have to go to third-world countries to see financial hardship. It is apparent even among some of the employed in our own country . Here at the retirement facility where I live we wealthy folk are served mostly by the poor. Recently when I was in the lobby with coffee and the morning paper a bone-tired woman lumbered by on her way home after working all night in our nursing center downstairs (where Ouida died). The girl at the desk told me that the woman has pain in her legs and feet and has a problem working all night as a nurse’s aid, but she doesn’t let it be known lest she lose her job. She went on to tell me that even though the woman lives in low-income housing she has a problem paying her rent.
We all know that such stories can be multiplied by the millions all round the world. Most people world-wide are poor, and, as Jesus said, the poor will always be with us. But such poverty could be greatly diminished if just we wealthy Christians practiced the kind of “economics” our Lord calls s for in John 6:38 — “Give generously and you will be made wealthy in return” (My translation). That is not to be our motive, give so as to be rich, except that as we become wealthier we have more to give. The disciple of Jesus is to live a simple, frugal life so as to have more to give away. This will cause him to prosper, our Lord promises, but he will still live a simple, frugal life so as to have still more to give to others.
One way to do this to be aware of the needy who “fly into our orbit.” I borrow that metaphor from the late Leonard Read who told the story of a bird flying into his glass door and falling to the porch injured. He made a splint for the bird’s broken wing, fed it with an eye-dropper, and nursed it back to health. He at last freed it and watched it fly away. He said he felt a moral obligation to help that particular bird, and added, “But that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to every damn bird in the world.” That bird had flown, into his orbit and needed help.
I felt that way about the nurse’s aid. She had flown into my orbit, perhaps at the leading of the Spirit, and I was blessed to have found an appropriate way to help her. We all have such opportunities to help those with needs who in some way cross our path, maybe a friend with a gnawing problem, maybe a family member in a time of crisis, maybe a complete stranger who is desperate for help. It makes for a good prayer, that we might be used to help someone who is disheartened, maybe with money, maybe with an encouraging word, maybe with both.
It appears to be an inexorable rule of heaven that we cannot help others without helping ourselves, even to the promise that generosity toward others begets well—being for oneself. It goes back to what God promised through the prophets: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
That is an amazing passage. God is daring us to put him to the test, that if we will give, generously give, he will open the windows of heaven and bless us beyond what we are able to handle. That is what Jesus promised, only in different words — "Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom."
The ball is in our court. It is up to us to take God up on his dare for us to put him to the test.
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