THE JOY OF LIVING GENEROUSLY
dr. david mcdonald
DR . DAvID mC D O NAL D
Visit Dr. David McDonald’s website at www.shadowinggod.com Visit Samizdat Creative’s website at www.samizdatcreative.com Heart of Gold: the joy of living generously Copyright © 2009 by Dr. David McDonald. All rights reserved. The author retains sole copyright to the materials Author photo and design copyright © 2009 by David McDonald. All rights reserved. ISBN-10: 0982612400 ISBN-13: 978-0-9826124-0-8 Published in association with Westwinds Community Church, 1000 Robinson Road, Jackson, MI 49203 Published by Samizdat Creative, 5441 South Knox Court, Littleton, CO 80123. All scriptures used in this Atlas are taken from the NIV translation unless otherwise indicated.
This book was written primarily for the people of Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, Michigan. It is part of a series of similar books called “Teaching Atlases,” which supplement David’s sermons during the weekend worship services. They are part studyguide, part reminder, part artifact. Additional Atlases can be obtained through the office of Westwinds Community Church on a host of other topics. David is also available for guest teaching and lecturing and can be booked through his personal assistant, Norma Racey (firstname.lastname@example.org). The set-up costs of each Atlas are privately donated by a Westwinds’ parishioner, thus enabling extensive self-publishing at a reasonable cost. The proceeds from each Atlas are designated by the donor for a specific project—such as installing wells in developing countries, providing artistic and educational scholarships for children, or financially supporting pastors and missionaries around the world. If you would like to donate to the Atlas project, please contact email@example.com
DE D ICAT IO N I have been a member of Westwinds Community Church since 2001 and I was honored to be chosen to write something for this segment of the Atlas project. I am submitting an underwriter’s page. The only other thing I’ve written in the last 41 since high school is a check to Meijer’s for groceries, so please bear with me. I feel strongly about two things that make my church a “Church:” giving and serving. I would like to tell you stories about all of the times that I have given to our church and to other people and been remarkably blessed in return, but there are too many to tell. I would like to talk to you about volunteering and serving at my church and about all of the good things that have happened inside of me because of it, about how good I feel inside and about the sense of belonging I have found, but I’m sure I could do it justice. If you ever get the opportunity to volunteer or serve, you will know what I am talking about. I do want to take a little space and dedicate this atlas to my wife’s cousin, Linda Niles. She struggled with meotheleoma for two years before finally going home to be with God. She has been an inspiration for me, encouraging me through her sheer toughness and determination to live. She lived longer than anyone expected she could, and leaves behind a wonderful group of caring family and friends. She will be missed, but her courage leaves a legacy for the rest of us. With much love, Dan Palmer
NOTE: Proceeds from the sale of this atlas will go towards Hospice Care, in honor of Linda Niles.
TA B LE O F CO NT EN TS 8
13 14 26 32 36 44 52 55 56 57
Part One: Prosperity, Abundance, and Delight A race of kings For richer, for poorer Jesusâ€™ friends and followers Those we know, those we are near Warning the rich Study Guide Questions for further reflection Activities for you and your children The elements of spiritual formation
61 62 70 76 82 88 90 91 93
Part Two: Money in Real Life Get a handle on it Itâ€™s hard, working hard Debt is the devil Play money Study Guide Questions for further reflection Activities for you and your children The elements of spiritual formation
97 98 108 114 122 124 125 127
Part Three: Mammon Possessed by our possessions The false god or the True One Wrangling Mammon Study Guide Questions for further reflection Activities for you and your children The elements of spiritual formation
131 132 138 148 156 158 159 160
Part Four: Generosity and Giving Stewards of (middle)Earth Naked and broke Give to your church Study Guide Questions for further reflection Activities for you and your children The elements of spiritual formation
Key Scripture References (arranged topically)
heart of gold
I N TRO D U CT IO N
The phrase “a heart of gold” can refer to two opposite things: charity and insatiability. Ironic, isn’t it? connotations.
One turn of the phrase, two completely different
The good heart of gold—the heart comprised of all things precious and valuable— puts one’s own interests out of mind for a while to give, serve, and seek the good of the world.
The bad heart of gold—the heart enamored with society’s items of purchase and power—ignores others almost completely unless they can be used for gain, profit, and acquisition. It is a heart for gold. Everyone knows which heart we’re supposed to have.
Everyone also knows just how difficult it is to cultivate the good heart of gold. and we often deceive ourselves about the hidden alchemy there ready to transform it into a heart of gold-lust. We need God for a good heart of gold. 8
dr. david mcdonald
God and money often make uncomfortable bedfellows, but we would be foolish to deny the clear teachings of scripture on the subject of money. The Bible, after all, contains 2350 verses about money—making it the single most considered subject in the collection of all 66 books. Jesus himself, the author and finisher of Christian spirituality, spoke more about money than he did about anything else. Including Heaven.
In fact, if we categorized the things Jesus most cared about by how often he talked about them, we would have to conclude that Jesus cared more about how we handle our money than whether or not we’re saved. As a local church pastor, I confess I’m a little gun-shy about money…for three reasons:
First, I grew up in an era of huge financial scandal within the church and, particularly among my peer group, there is a stigma about preachers and money. So I don’t want to be associated with the PTL, and I never want a 1-800 number, and I never want to send a free gift in the mail following a small donation. Those things feel yucky to me and I don’t want to be associated with them. Yet when I speak about money as a preacher, I am keenly aware that I am, somehow, associated with all those who’ve ripped off old ladies in Jesus’ name. Second, I like to have all my personal ducks-in-a-row before I stand in front of a bunch of folks and shoot my mouth off. Since I am hardly a millionaire (though, by God’s grace, I am in the most sound financial position of my life), I am wary about speaking authoritatively about something I obviously still have so much to learn about in the real world.
Finally, I’m a little gun-shy about money because it’s personal for my wife and I and we don’t like to talk too openly about our finances with others. It’s not that we have anything to hide, we just don’t talk about our underwear size with our friends either. It’s weird. 9
heart of gold
Now that I’ve acknowledged my squeamishness on the subject please allow me to warn you, dear reader, that I will put all such squeamishness behind me and teach authoritatively and forthrightly a biblical theology of money. After all, if a preacher won’t bother to teach biblically on money, who will? Cue the awesome kung fu soundtrack.
This teaching will make you uncomfortable. It will make you mad. It will stress you out.
This teaching will also make you financially secure if you take it to heart, it will enable you to live the abundant life God desires for all his children, and it will ultimately make your life better.
The spiritual character of money is well-documented in scripture and it’s important to know that God’s best plans and purposes for us will only come about if we surrender our financial plans and purposes to Him. I am writing this with several specific goals in mind.
I want you to begin giving to your local church, at least 10% of your income, without becoming bogged down by the legalism of “tithing.” I want you to be generous and open-handed with others, becoming a conduit of God’s grace and blessing, working alongside God to heal the world through your personal resources. I want you to get your finances in order, to understand what you have to do to be faithful to God and able to help others, and then to follow through with those insights and live differently.
I want you to understand the dangers of idolizing wealth and affluence, of spiritualizing them, and of loving and fearing money rather than God. I want you to live in complete financial freedom, abundance, prosperity, and delight—just as the scriptures clearly teach God intended. 10
dr. david mcdonald
But let me be super-clear about one final thing: I want all this stuff for me, too. Iâ€™ve learned 100 things about God and money in preparation for this book. Iâ€™ll never be the same, and neither will you if you cowboy up and permit the Spirit entry into your heart. To turn it into a good, pure, true heart of gold.
heart of gold
dr. david mcdonald
part one: prosperity, abundance, an d d e l ig h t God wants us to prosper so we can use our God-given resources to cooperate with Him to heal the world.
heart of gold
a race of k in gs
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Deuteronomy 8.7-10 NKJV Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8.18-20 NKJV At the time of our marriage Carmel and I were paying our way through school on academic and athletic scholarships and on my $100/wk salary as a local pastor. Most weeks we prayed for gas money, scrounged off our friends, and ate Ramen noodles every day. About once a month weâ€™d go to Earlâ€™s, a causal 14
dr. david mcdonald restaurant, for Wing Wednesday and split a dozen 5-cent wings and drink water. We’d pay for our meal in loose change. Even though we were poor we managed our money faithfully, gave regularly to our church, and made a point of doing whatever we could to help others in our circle of friends who had even less than we did. We believed, however, that our life was anything but the abundant life Jesus had promised. I have come that you might have life, and life more abundantly. John 10.10 We knew it was only a matter of time before we became a liability and a drain on both our families, so when we got out of school we earnestly tried to begin a life of financial independence. We failed at first, racking up $17,000 in credit card debt, $4000 in students loans, and a $20,000 vehicle loan. We were able to afford a modest townhome, but only because my father-in-law was gracious enough to provide us with a down payment. About six or seven years into our marriage, my older brother Dwayne, challenged me about our lifestyle and our lack of financial responsibility. Even with extra income, we still weren’t living the way God wanted us to. So we began climbing our way out of debt. Thankfully, with the exception of our mortgage, we are 100% debt-free as of Fall 2009. In the process of our financial ups and downs, borrowings and earnings, we have gradually become freer with our money and more able to respond to God’s movement. Now we finally feel like we’re living the way God wants us to. We’ll continue to increase our giving to our church, to various people and charities and causes, and we’ll continue to make shrewd decisions about our purchases and our lifestyle, but by-and-large we feel relieved and thankful that God has lead us out of poverty and into our current lifestyle. 15
heart of gold As I’ve considered our financial history, I’ve had to wrestle with some intriguing spiritual questions. Chief among these is: Was God happier when we were poor or is He happier now? Interestingly, I’ve concluded that God is in fact happier with us and our lives now that we’re in a position of financial security. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that God loves the middle-class more than the indigent. What I am saying is that God wanted something better for us than living hand-to-mouth and he put people, systems, protections, and instruction in place to help us move from “barely getting by” to remarkable financial freedom. That has been our journey, but we’re usually reluctant to share it with other people because of the wide-range of opinions Christians seem to have about money. There are two extremes of thought within Christianity about wealth: some think God wants us all to live a life of pleasure and abundance, and some think God wants us all to purposefully live on next to nothing. Both sides quote plenty of scripture to justify their angle and prove that the other angle is wrong, distorted, and (usually) deliberately sinful. Both sides are very vocal—take Shane Claiborne (Philadelphia hippie and voluntary pauper) and Joel Osteen (Texas money with a Vaseline smile) as quick examples—and both sides make it very difficult to know what the truth of the matter really is. But both sides are out of balance—choosing to look only at “their” scriptures and dismiss the validity of the “other” scriptures in order to justify their position, reinforce their personal convictions, and repaint historical Christianity to be the version they think the world needs. The one group looks at the vastly over-commercialized USAmerican culture, with its debt-affections and disregard for the penniless, and knows that God cannot abide such thoughtless opulence. They, as God’s spokespeople, must disavow our culture of love-for-affluence at the expense of the rest of the world. They voluntarily give up their own position and economic privilege so they can speak more authoritatively to others about the dangers of excess. 16
dr. david mcdonald Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Chris Seay, and many others are good, godly examples of folks in this camp. The other group looks at the massive problems in our culture caused by debt, lack of financial understanding and discipline, and the long-term negativity and hopelessness that accompanies financial failure. They know that God cannot abide such joyless destitution and that they, as God’s spokespeople, must disavow the erroneous notion in the church that Jesus was a homeless man without privilege, who refused to even speak to rich people, let alone be happy that someone had made something of himself. This camp aggressively dives into matters of financial security, biblical teaching on stewardship, and find their faith strongest in the context of belief and prosperity. Joyce Meyer, James Robison, Casey Treat, and many others are good, godly examples of folks in this camp. But which one is right? And, to which camp should we belong if we are to live faithfully with the biblical teaching on money? To put it simply, I think you’ve got to believe like the prosperity group and live like the poverty group…ish. The truth is that God does, in fact, want you to prosper and if you ignore this simple, albeit controversial, fact the entire gospel message falls apart and God’s vision for human dignity, worth, and value collapses. God wants you to experience every good thing in this life in good, god-fearing and god-honoring ways. He wants you to experience his pleasure and presence in the midst of delight. Think about it. If it feels weird to think of God wanting you to prosper, I suggest you imagine another person’s scenario. Imagine, for example, a poor man living in a hut in Guyana. Imagine that this man has hardly any food, no clean water, wears the same clothes everyday, cannot work, and has no one to love him. 17
heart of gold Do you think that this man is experiencing all that God wants him to experience? Or, do you think that God’s heart breaks for the suffering of this man and that God wants – more than anything – to look after him, to put people in his life to care for him and educate him and clothe him and help him find meaningful employment so he can bathe and eat and dress and live with dignity and value? Right. God’s plan for that guy is to get him a home, a job, some clothes, lots of love, and to lead him into something much more abundant, prosperous, and delightful than what he’s experiencing now. Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Matthew 25.34-26 NKJV I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security…and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it. Jeremiah 33.6, 9 Let me tell you why I believe this is so true: Genesis 1 begins with a liturgy of abundance, a creation account that repeats over and over again the generosity of God by proclaiming: it is good, it is good, it is very good. It shows us that God blesses…extravagantly. 18
dr. david mcdonald In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and placed his two image-bearers in the center of a lush, tropical rainforest to have unrestrained social, sexual, and intellectual communion with one another, and to have unbroken friendship with God as they nurtured the abundant goodness of creation. God created us as kings and priests (1 Peter 2.9) and He wants us to enjoy the delights that accompany our identity as a race of kings (Revelation 1.6). All human beings are called to represent God’s supreme authority and kingship over the world. If there ever was a picture of prosperity, affluence, abundance, wealth, or delight it is the Garden of Eden. Asceticism, as well as any suspicion of material wealth, was very alien to Judaism in the Old Testament. Eating, drinking, taking one’s enjoyment (in other words, every material blessing that enhanced the quality of life) were accepted in simple thankfulness from God’s hand. Gerard von Rad, Old Testament scholar There are, additionally, pictures and descriptions in Genesis 1-2 of fruitful productivity amidst this affluence—Adam was put to work naming the animals and taking care of the Garden. But that enhances the true picture of prosperity in the story, which would be cheapened by a vision of divine sloth amid unearned splendor. Even the first command, “You may eat of any tree in the garden” is not an indication that Adam and Eve were just getting by or scraping together the bare minimum they needed in order to survive, but it suggests bounty and freedom to enjoy a wide range of delicacies and enjoyments. 19
heart of gold While it’s true they had no money, no paying jobs, no property or equity or investments, it’s equally true that Adam and Eve had access to all the benefits of those things without the slavery those things require of modern citizens. Eden set the man and the woman free from servitude to want, it unleashed them to dream, to use their creativity, to work in productive and rewarding ways, to reap the fruits of their labor, and to take human pleasure in the whole of life, in the image of God, and in his good pleasure. John R. Schneider God’s original intention was for humanity to live in abundance. Eden in scripture is not just good, it’s paradigmatic…meaning it’s what God wants for all of us all of the time. Because of this, it is much easier to understand God’s promises to Abraham and the patriarchs—promises of wealth, power, and of a flourishing people—and his rewards to Job, David, Nehemiah, and Esther and Mordecai. Regardless of where the Israelites were—exile in Babylon, slavery in Egypt, captivity in Assyria, wandering the desert, or building their kingdom—God continued to promise what he had promised from the beginning: prosperity, abundance, and delight. Despite all the other issues we’ll look at later in this book— looking after the poor, budgeting responsibly, giving generously and sacrificially to God and to others, living simply, living free from the power of Mammon and the love of money— we simply cannot ignore the clear teaching of the Bible on this issue. God does, in fact, want you to prosper. Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 1.2
dr. david mcdonald The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your land. Deuteronomy 30.9 The blessing of the Lord makes rich. Proverbs 10.22 The crown (signifying participation in the glory of God – ed.) of the wise is their riches. Proverbs 14.24 NASB The reward for humility and the fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22.4 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. 2 Corinthians 9.11a The Genesis creation accounts make it crystal clear that not all affluence and opulence, not all feasting and drinking and laughing and carousing, not all pleasures and delights and affectations, are examples of drunkenness and gluttony. Human delight is a precious expression of God’s glory, of human dignity, and of the goodness of life in this world. In its proper form it is a sacrament to God’s dominion over chaos and darkness. John R. Schneider We rebelled against God and were cast out of Eden, our garden paradise, and everything changed from then on. But the prophets and Gospel writers and New Testament authors make it clear that God’s intention for us to live again in Eden has not changed. Despite all he said and did that seriously called into question the priorities of the wealthy, Jesus himself always referred to the Kingdom of Heaven as a place of great feasting and merriment, richness and wealth (Matthew 22.1-14). 21
heart of gold When a prostitute anointed Jesus’ own feet with a years’ wages of “wasted perfume,” it was not Jesus who was angry, but Judas whose misunderstanding of value, freedom, money, and worth was so wrong he betrayed our Lord for the price of slave (John 12.1-8; Matthew 26:14-16). Jesus also had more than the poor for friends—some of his closest companions were a group of women who financially supported his ministry (Luke 1-3), as were the rich people with whom he ate (Luke 11.37; 14.1; John 2.1). Jesus’ parable about the use of “unrighteous mammon” in Luke 16 is puzzling, because Jesus honors the servant who uses money to increase his worth. We’ll talk more about that parable later on as we make sense of the biblical teaching on money, but let it simmer in the back of your mind for now. No one was known more for his simplicity and asceticism than John the Baptist (Luke 7.33), not Jesus. In stark contrast, Jesus was criticized for being a lover of many earthly pleasures, among them strong drink and fine food (Luke 7.34). To the religious people of his day, Jesus seemed like a first century Lindsey Lohan or a Paris Hilton, his party-fame splashed all over the headlines of the Holy Land. When I talk about prosperity I really do mean that God wants you to have more than enough money to pay your bills, live debt free, give money away without unnecessarily compromising your own economic security. He wants you to enjoy special things like vacations and time away, and even to throw money around on occasions like birthdays or holidays or whatever. Those are the good gifts God desires for us, his children. According to scripture, God really wants to spoil us. Paul says that Jesus, who was very rich, became poor for our sake. Why? So we would wallow in poverty? So we could suffer for him? No. Jesus suffered for us. We may, in fact, suffer at some point on behalf of the high 22
dr. david mcdonald and holy calling of Jesus Christ—but we should not force ourselves to suffer out of a backward sense of guilt. He suffered for our sake, we don’t have to manufacture suffering for his. We don’t have to be poor to be holy. And we should be just as careful about assuming that the rich are unholy, just as the rich should be careful about assuming that they prosper because they are holy. Problems arise when we think our being spoiled in the western world has little to do with God. It’s a problem when our spoilage does in fact spoil us and make us rotten on the inside, and that our wealth often comes at the expense of someone else’s financial security. Usually this someone lives in an economically under-developed country and has little to no chance of enjoying financial security themselves. We’ll talk more about the ethics of looking after our fellow human being in another chapter, but for now let me say, yes that should bother us. Knowing as we do that God’s plan is for all the world to experience Edenic abundance, delight, and prosperity, it must bother us that some of our fellows have no chance at such delight. It also must compel us to act on their behalf. The question is how much are we to rightly enjoy and how much are we to give away to those who may never have any of what we have? Is it okay to be rich while someone else is poor? The real issue today is not whether we can live without monetary abundance, but whether we can live with it. James Robison Before we go any further, allow me to sum up what we’ve learned so far: God wants to prosper us economically, and God wants to heal the world, restoring a broken creation back to its original Edenic state. 23
heart of gold By using the resources of His prospered people, God wants to heal others so they too can prosper. Prosperity is Godâ€™s plan for all creation. Prosperity funds your mission to heal the world. We are called to use our wealth and affluence so that our actions announce to the watching world that grace is free and abundant, that God uses his people to heal the world and reunite humanity with their Creator, that a new creation is promised, and that there is more than enough for everyone within Godâ€™s kingdom. God wants to prosper you so you have the means to cooperate with him in the redemption of the world.
dr. david mcdonald
heart of gold
for ric h er, for p oorer
I have a couple of rich friends and, to be honest, they are a problem for me. These guys are honest, faithful to their wives and children and friends, churches and businesses, and they love God with everything in them. They give generously and sacrificially, frequently donating money to additional charities and causes as the needs arise. These guys are pretty much perfect. Except that they’re rich. For much of my life being rich and being a faithful follower of Jesus seemed mutually exclusive. Of course, I’ve had a pretty skewed understanding of God’s appreciation and designs for wealth. This is a misunderstanding commonly held by young, educated, socially-conscious young people from a country that celebrates soft socialism (Canada) and economic counter-dependence, and also by jaded second-generation evangelicals who got tired of thinking that the only way to serve Jesus was to build a mission-school overseas. I fit neatly into both groups. Both groups are a bit mixed up about wealth—maybe not more so than their opposites (the ever-famous “prosperity” preachers)—but mixed up nonetheless. I’ve written elsewhere about the righteous poor (“Justice and Charity,” available 26
dr. david mcdonald through westwinds.org). I fear I have done so at the expense of the righteous rich. Given the obvious warnings to the wealthy in the Bible, it is easy to understand that wealth has some unique spiritual challenges. With Jesus’ identification with the anawim, the righteous poor, it is also easy to understand that God advocates for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Christ cares for the poor. Yet it is a fallacy to believe without qualification that Christ loves the poor and criticizes the rich. Yes, Christ does love the poor. Yes, Christ does criticize the rich. But, Christ does not love the poor because they are poor. He feels deep compassion for the poor, knowing that humanity was never intended to beg for bread, want for love, or lack for shelter. Christ is the advocate of the poor because they represent all that is physically, socially, and spiritually hurting and broken in our world. He brings good news to the poor because, given their circumstances, they are most quickly able to hear and discern that the world is not right and Christ is here to fix it. This is certainly why Jesus identifies with the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, who suffers on behalf of the people as a means to limit and ease their suffering. He is a representative sufferer, taking on the sins and the shame of the people so they can be liberated from bondage and hardship. Christ also loves the poor because—free from the false comfort and commodification of wealth—the poor are often more quick to realize their full dependence upon God and His grace. Consider the story of the widow and her two coins (Mark 12.41-44; Luke 21.1-4). One day, Jesus and his followers sit outside the temple and watch how people give to God. Notice, first, that Jesus chooses to watch how people give. Despite his warnings to give in secret, Jesus is keenly interested in exposing secrecy and observing actions that reveal people’s motivations. Notice, second, that the widow gives a meager amount of money, but that she is not praised for the amount of her gift but of her sacrifice. Do you see why she is honored by Christ? Not only because she is poor but equally because she gave generously. Assuming that she gave all she owned, 27
heart of gold we can easily surmise that Jesus would have been equally proud of the wealthy young man waiting in line with the widow had he given all that he owned. Because Jesus is honoring the sacrifice, not the amount and not the economic status of the giver. On the flip side, Christ does criticize the rich, but not because they are rich. He criticizes the rich because they have withdrawn their allegiance to God and given it instead to Mammon—the god of wealth and affluence (cf. Matthew 6.24). They have turned from their first love. They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Jesus criticizes the rich because they find comfort and security in their wealth and their possessions instead of in God. Their money has become, for them, a means of either ignoring or escaping reliance on God’s grace. Furthermore, the wealth of the rich is often used to harm others. The rich victimize and dehumanize the poor, treating them with something less than the full dignity God affords to all people. The true evil of the rich is not their wealth, but the fundamental failure to find their delight in God and his Kingdom. Jesus’ encounter with the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18.18-23) is often read as a critique of wealth. In the story, an earnest young man lists off all his spiritual accomplishments and then asks Christ what else he should do. Jesus tells him to go and sell everything he owns and give it to the poor. The young man goes away, sad, and presumably gives up on Jesus. People often read this story and think that the very thing Jesus asks this young man to do is what he’s asking us to do. They’re right. Jesus wants this young man to completely disavow himself of material security and to completely sacrifice all his dearest treasure to God. Jesus asks that of us all. As we’ll discover in a moment, though, Jesus does not mean for everyone who follows him to off-load their stuff onto eBay or Craigslist before making a donation to St. Vincent de Paul. Jesus demands our absolute allegiance. In the case of the Rich Young Ruler, that allegiance was tested financially. In our case it may be something different. 28
dr. david mcdonald Or not. I don’t want us to ignore the fact that every one of us would respond the same way if Christ also told us to sacrifice everything we owned. We should wrestle with that. In fact, the only reason any of us might actually consider complying with Jesus’ request is because of the heart-breaking words that follow the departure of this should-have-been disciple: it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Only because of this man’s failure can we even contemplate success. We should ask ourselves the hard question about to whom our stuff really belongs…and about who really owns our hearts. Nevertheless, the scriptures do make it clear that Jesus did not require all of his followers to first give all their possessions to the poor. Peter, James and John retained their fishing business. Joseph of Arimathea certainly did not give up all his wealth, though he did use it for Kingdom purposes, as did Jesus’ wealthy women followers. Perhaps the greatest example disproving the one-size-fits-all rule of the Rich Young Ruler is that of Zaccheus. Zaccheus was a tax collector, a traitor to his people who worked for the Roman government. He made his substantial personal earnings off of the over-tax he charged his fellow Hebrews (which was his legal right as a Roman employee). Zaccheus was wealthy and had accumulated his wealth dishonestly (Luke 19). In other words, Zaccheus was a bad man in all the ways the Rich Young Ruler was a good man. Jesus never demands Zaccheus give away everything he owned. In fact, Jesus never demands anything of Zaccheus at all. It is Zaccheus himself who proclaims that he will repay those he has cheated and with interest—a standard established by John the Baptist (cf. Luke 3.13), but never even acknowledged by Christ. Whereas the Rich Young Ruler spoke eagerly about his holiness, Zaccheus spoke eagerly about his repentance. Whereas the Rich Young Ruler went away saddened by Jesus’ demands, Zaccheus never gave Jesus a chance to demand anything, but gave that which he felt God had laid on his heart to give with gladness. 29
heart of gold Zaccheus made Jesus proud in a way the Rich Young Ruler never did, because Christ was measuring the hearts of both men and not the size of their contribution. Coming full circle, let me speak plainly about the righteousness of both the rich and the poor: God loves them both, rich and poor, and God honors them both, rich and poor, so long as both, rich and poor, give themselves wholly to Godâ€™s desires and purposes and to His plans to heal the world through them to whatever degree God decides is appropriate. It is possible to be righteous and rich, just as it is possible to be righteous and poor, but the key is neither wealth nor poverty, but righteousness.
dr. david mcdonald
heart of gold
j esus ’ friends and followers Jesus is often painted as the champion of the poor. He was. He is also frequently painted as the enemy of the rich. He was not. Consider the biblical descriptions of Jesus closest companions: Poor shepherds (Luke 2.8-9) and wealthy Magi (Matthew 2.1-2) attended Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph owned housing in Bethlehem (Matthew 2.11, 16). The Magi presented Mary and Joseph with gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2.11) – items of marked value and symbols of affluence and extravagance. When the Holy Family returns from exile in Egypt, they set up a family business in Galilee and begin working as members of a market community (Matthew 2.19-23). Jesus worked in the family business as an artisan, a tekton (which means a carpenter, stonemason, joiner, and cartwright…cf. Mark 6.3) until he was about 30 – then, as now, carpentry was a respectable trade providing a good income, leaving no room for speculation that Jesus’ peers would ever have considered him “poor.” Jesus never spoke critically of the state-sponsored roads or highways or aqueducts provided by the Roman system of Imperial control, nor 32
dr. david mcdonald did he ever criticize the way the Roman government paid for these advances, which included warfare, military aggression, and overtaxation. Peter, James, John and Andrew were Galilean fisherman (Mark 1.1620) – then, as now – those jobs were dirty and smelly, but also lucrative. The Gospels show that these men owned their own boats and nets, ran their own businesses, and even had servants. Peter’s mother-in-law had a house large enough to accommodate Jesus and his disciples, and they used this home as their base of operations in Capernaum (Mark 8). The Gospels assert that these men left everything to follow Jesus, which – of course – implies that they were making a considerable sacrifice (something hard to imagine if the only thing they were leaving behind were cardboard boxes and shopping carts filled with tin cans). Levi (Matthew) the tax collector worked for the Roman government (Luke 5.27-32) and earned his living by charging people for the privilege to live in occupied territory. He was the cultural equivalent of a bookie for the mob. He owned a house and leaving everything was a very significant decision for him. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus provided Jesus and his disciples with financial support (Luke 10.38-42). Joseph of Arimathea provided financial support to Jesus and his followers, particularly by donating a tomb for Jesus after the crucifixion (John 19). A group of wealthy woman also supported Jesus’ ministry financially (Luke 8.3). The multitudes of people who followed Jesus from place to place were obviously marked by the severest kinds of sickness, poverty, and disease…but not exclusively so. The Roman centurion, for example, who begged Jesus to heal his servant was obviously wealthy (Matthew 8.5-13), as was Zaccheaus (Luke 19) the chief tax collector at whose home Jesus ate supper. Mary Magdalene was a former prostitute who poured a whole bottle 33
heart of gold of costly perfume on Jesus feet (Mark 12.1-11) and was criticized by Judas for her extravagance and waste. This list of often over-looked facts about Jesus’ friends and followers is helpful to understand that they came from a similar socio-economic background to Jesus himself. I’m also writing it, in part, to burst the bubble of Jesus-asChe-Guevara or Jesus-as-Ghandi. Comparisons to those historical figures are exciting, but not entirely accurate. As these comparisons grow more popular among my own friends and peers, I am saddened to see the “real” Jesus lost in a sea of sexier, pissier, Jesi who hate everyone with money. Sadly, these Jesi have no grace to extend to anyone other than homeless people. Homeless people, let us be clear, receive God’s grace. But so do mayors, presidents, and CEOs. Once upon a time, it was provocative in our culture to decry the favoritism of the wealthy within the church. Now, I believe it is provocative to remind us that the rich are human and we need to love them even if we are not among them and particularly if we are victimized by them. It helps to acknowledge that people in Jesus’ own society would not at all have looked upon him as poor.
dr. david mcdonald
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those we k now th ose we are near Mother Theresa devoted her life to helping the poorest of the poor. After observing her arduous work among the filth, disease, and suffering of Calcutta, a television commentator told her: I wouldnâ€™t do what youâ€™re doing for all the money in the world. She replied: neither would I. From Money, Possessions, and Eternity Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full. Proverbs 19.17 Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. Proverbs 22.9 One who augments wealth by exorbitant interest gathers it for another who is kind to the poor. Proverbs 28.8 If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. Deuteronomy 15.7 36
dr. david mcdonald Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5.42 There’s a great episode in the HBO comedy Entourage in which the star, Vincent Chase, is pressured by Matt Damon, LeBron James, and Bono to give a huge sum of money to the poor. Unfortunately for Vince, no matter how much he offers to give, it’s never enough to make his friends happy. I relate. It’s difficult to come to grips with the enormous amount of poverty in our world. It’s also difficult to ever feel good about anything you do for the poor because there are so many worse off than any one of us. And so we despair of ever being able to do enough. No matter what we do, it never seems to make a big enough difference in solving the problem of global poverty. Two responses are common at this point: giving up or giving all. In the first scenario, people become so inundated with world poverty that they lose their ability to care. This may be because they are spoiled brats, with little or no human compassion left in them whatsoever, or because they are simply too exhausted and worn out to continue caring any longer. Despair has conquered them. In the second group, people become so burdened with the condition of our world that they just give and give and give until they have nothing left. For some, this is the point at which they begin to feel solidarity with the Suffering Christ. For most, this is the point where they lose any semblance of joy—they begin to judge others who do less and they treat harshly the very people they’re trying to help when those people cannot help themselves. We need a way to understand what we’re supposed to do about the crushing burden of world poverty that triggers neither our indifference nor our exhaustion. Before I attempt to supply some basic instruction on the issue, let me begin with two major reasons why it’s important for every lover and follower of Jesus 37
heart of gold Christ to help the poor: compassion and mission. We crave God’s prosperity, abundance, and delight for ourselves; it is only right that we crave it for others as well. Basic human compassion drives us to help others in need. We recognize that, except by God’s grace or happy circumstance, we could be in the exact same situation they are. After all, just because it’s God’s plan for every human being to prosper doesn’t actually mean we’re all going to enjoying that plan. Despite God’s desire, there are counter-forces working in our broken world that frustrate his plans. He refuses to obliterate those counter-forces because it would cheapen our choices and corrupt our free will. There are three reasons people do not prosper: they are foolish, they are students, they are victims: Foolish people refuse to work and are lazy; are wicked, acting like jerks to everyone around them, so that now they are unable to call upon the goodwill or resources of others; persist in destructive behaviors and simply cannot be bothered to change. The lazy, the jerk, and the un-changeable, will not prosper because they’re looking for a hand out, because everyone hates them for their behavior, and because they are too stubborn or too stupid to take the good opportunities right in front of their eyes. Students have lived righteously but, like Job, God wants to remind them of their total sufficiency on him; or they have lived unrighteously, like Ahab, and God wants to remind them of their total debt to his grace.
dr. david mcdonald The righteous student will learn dependence upon God and be rewarded in either this life or the next, whereas the unrighteous student will be punished in both. Victims live under the power of someone evil who seeks their harm and thwarts their progress. The victim will never experience God’s plan for their lives until they are liberated from the dark power that overwhelms them. That must happen spiritually through Christ, and physically through a greater power of goodness motivated by the Spirit of Christ who sets captives free. Those who feel entitled to live off the sweat of another’s brow are fools. Those who are being personally instructed by God are students. Those who live with no hope are victims. The two boys from my 8th grade class who lived off of social assistance despite complete health and trashed every rental they ever squatted in are fools. The business man who boasts in his wealth and then loses it all through the collapse of the market is a student. The African villager living 100 miles away from the nearest clean water source, paying job, or medical aid center is a victim. These people will not prosper. And, for better or for worse, they are people just like you and me. Nothing more than chance had me born and raised in Canada by a pastor rather than to poor villagers in an African hut, or by rich financiers in Kuwait, or by foolish American parents with disregard for taxation and social responsibility. If not for God’s grace and good fortune, I could be any of those people. And so I—and so we all—must have compassion for them, a sense of brotherhood that compels us to remind them of their humanity. We must remind the boys who milk the system that they are harming something precious. We must remind the businessman that his value is not determined by 39
heart of gold Wall Street. We must remind the villager that despite his present circumstances he is a person of remarkable dignity. The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern. Proverbs 29.7 Christ-followers all over the world must rally themselves to look after the poor, not merely because we feel compassion, but also because it is the mission of Christ to heal the world. The poor are the reason that God has prospered us. God has given an incredible amount of wealth to those of us in the Western world (and let’s just stop pretending for a moment that our wealth is not really so remarkable, shall we?) so that we might experience His joy by giving to others. He gives so we also can give. This is where the prosperity teachers sometimes get it wrong: they teach us to give money in order to receive a greater blessing from God (they refer to this as the law of sowing and reaping, and though it has some biblical merit, it is grossly distorted). But we don’t give to get…we get in order to give. As I write this, it’s Christmastime and I am getting ready to take my kids shopping for presents. Here are the rules in our family: I take them each shopping twice, once for their mother and once for each other. I give them $10 each time, so they can learn to budget and to think carefully about what the person they’re buying for would enjoy. Once we pick something and take it to the front, my kids pay for it with my $10…and then I buy them ice cream. The $10 is not for my kids, it’s for my kids to enjoy spending on someone else. 40
dr. david mcdonald The ice cream is for my kids. God gives us ice cream – things we are to rightly enjoy. God also gives us $10 (give or take) so that we can use that money to give to others to help their lives improve, to give them ice cream, and to know the joy of sharing what we have. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. Luke 4.18 Remember that the word gospel means “good news.” What is God’s good news to the poor? That they no longer have to be poor and, after receiving generosity, they can give to the other poor. They can become part of the solution. We have duties towards others and to God. We have the resources to make a genuine difference in the lives of people all over the world. This is the true price of wealth. This is the only good we can make of it: enjoyment and generosity. Consider Proverbs 31.5 in which King Lemuel reminds us that the prince must maintain the rights of the afflicted (the “sons of misery”). He’s saying the poor have rights over the rich, and whenever they are denied these rights, God’s justice must intervene to reestablish them. So how do we make sense of this in real life? Knowing that there are billions of poor people in the world, how do we know who to help and how? How do we know to what degree to help them so that we can experience the joy of helping others without being crushed by sheer weight of need we can’t do anything about? Philosophers provide us a useful tool for this called moral proximity. It’s a term that refers to the people close to you, to whom you are obligated. On the most basic level, it means you’re supposed to help your family. On another level, it means you’re supposed to help a stranger who passes out in front of you on the sidewalk. In the first case, you are biologically close (proximity) to your family and as a family member it’s your duty (moral) to help them. In the second case, you’re physically close (proximity) to the stranger and it becomes 41
heart of gold your human and civic duty (moral) to help them. These days, however, moral proximity feels a little more intimidating. Whether through the internet or CNN, it now seems like we’re emotionally and physically close to 2 billion strangers, all of whom are collapsing on the sidewalk in front of us. Our 17cents a day hardly seems to making a difference to either Sally Struthers or the children dying every 6 seconds in Africa. Our moral proximity is so overwhelming it feels impossible to make any difference at all. At this point, I like to remind myself of the story about a boy on a beach. Faced with thousands of starfish left on the beach by the receding tide, the boy begins to pick them up one-by-one and toss them back into the ocean. A nearby gentleman sees the boy and asks what he hopes to accomplish, seeing as the boy has no real hope of saving them all. The boy hurls one more starfish back to the safety of the ocean, saying, “It made a difference to that one.” It’s true that there are more needs than there are ways for each of us to help, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help one person at a time. It’s also true that our moral proximity is such that we feel like we’re supposed to help everyone…but I think God would be happy to have us begin a little more locally. Very simply, I think it’s our job to help those we know and those we’re physically near. If your friend needs help, help him— if that help is yard work, work with him; if that help is counsel, talk with him and listen; if that help is trouble, pray with him; if that help is financial, go with him to an advisor and help him weigh his options and, if you must give him money, never lend it to him. You’ll risk the potential weirdness of his inability to pay you back and his consequent shyness and slyness. Just give him the money and call it even. If you see someone in real life, not on a screen, in need of assistance, then assist them: if they have a flat tire, then help them change it; if they’re hungry, then bring them a hot meal; if they’re lonely, then spare a few minutes and laugh with them. 42
dr. david mcdonald By thinking about the very ordinary ways in which those we know and those weâ€™re near most often need help, we disable the fear that we have nothing to offer a hurting world. Everyone can listen. Everyone can spare a few moments for another. Everyone can do something for that one, and so we should. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8.9 He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed. Proverbs 19.17
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warnin g t h e ric h
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Mark 10.25 The gate is narrow and the way is hard. Mark 7.14 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. James 5.1-5 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. Ecclesiastes 5.10 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, 44
dr. david mcdonald and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6.19-20 No one I know feels rich. Even the people I know whom I consider personally wealthy—not just well off, but superbly affluent—do not consider themselves “rich.” In fact, the whole idea of wealth in the Western world is quite skewed. We tend to think that being rich means having a butler, a chauffeur, a personal assistant, a personal trainer, a personal chef, a nanny, a housekeeper, as well as a summer home and a winter cottage, a solid stock portfolio well-diversified to keep us from economic harm, and a few liquid million in the bank just in case. The rest of the world however thinks of being rich as having a car, running (let alone hot) water, choice of food for three meals each day, childhood education, the ability to travel distances beyond 100miles without having to sell everything, and having a job that can cover basic living expenses. Americans haven’t figured out that wealth in our time has been completely redefined. Among those currently living beneath the poverty line in the United States, 50% have air conditioning, 60% have microwaves and DVD players, 70% have more than 1 car, 72% have washing machines, 93% have more than 1 television, and 98% have a refrigerator. Not only are poor Americans today better housed, better clothed, and better fed than average Americans 50 years ago, but in many respects they are still better off than the average Western European today. Dinesh D’Souza 45
heart of gold I don’t mean to make us feel guilty or stupid, but I do want us to stay in the habit of reminding ourselves of our incredible material richness. It might not always feel like we’re the wealthy ones – especially when you’re out of money and it’s still 10 days until payday, or you can’t pay for your kids school pictures, or you have no resources to repair your old beater car, or you haven’t bought any clothes from places other than the Salvation Army Thrift store for the last decade – but we are, in fact, the most prosperous people in human history. And we have to come to grips with that. By a conscious act of will, let us stop denying our wealth…rather than comparing ourselves to others like ourselves, so that we can always claim comparative poverty, let us become world citizens, looking at ourselves in relation to all humanity. Richard Foster Whether or not we’re rich by USAmerican standards, we are rich by everyone else’s—doubly so if you are considered among the American elite. We must be mindful of the fact that we are responsible to God for our wealth. God cares about how we use our riches, and there are severe warnings for the rich who pay no attention to God’s concerns. The rich, it seems, are prone to a certain set of particular sins. Along with sex and power, money is among the easiest things in our world to distort, thereby frustrating the good plans of our gracious God to heal creation. If we are to be rich and righteous, we must pay attention to the warnings in the Bible concerning how we view and handle our money. There are many, many such warnings but I have distilled them here into five basic categories of concern. Let’s look at each in turn and prayerfully consider God’s appraisal of who we are and how we live as we do. Jesus warns us in Matthew 6 that we cannot serve both God and Mammon. 46
dr. david mcdonald A fuller discussion of Mammon will occupy the third section of this book so I will not speak exhaustively on the subject here. For now, suffice to say that Mammon—the god of affluence and wealth—is diametrically opposed to God. If you love money, your love for God is compromised. If you first consider financial feasibility instead of divine desire, your trust in God is compromised. If God has placed something noble on your heart to do for someone else, and you neglect to do it because of financial limitations, your obedience to God has been compromised. Far more than anything else in this world, money demands an allegiance from us that is counter to the allegiance of God and his kingdom. The person who has everything will find it very difficult to find God. Their lack of want in this life will make their lack of spiritual want less obvious, and so they will need something to wake them up to their dependence upon God. Recall the story of the Rich Young Ruler—Jesus said of him that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus borrowed an ancient rabbinical saying here. A needle’s eye, by the way, was another name for a gateway or entrance to a home or a building that stood about four feet high. Since nothing is impossible for God (Matthew 19.26), it is possible for rich man to enter God’s kingdom, but they must stoop very, very low to do so. They must have hearts that are radically changed and they must defect from allegiance to material wealth to allegiance to God’s riches. Thus, the first warning to the rich is this: Don’t let money become your master, because it will unless you are wholly mastered by God. The second warning is summed up in Ecclesiastes 5.10-15. In this book, the author lists the perils of affluence to remind us that money is only good for so much: Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. 47
heart of gold As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. Ecclesiastes 5.10-15 The second warning to the rich is this: Don’t chase after money because you’ll never be satisfied. Here is the third warning: Do not trust in riches because they cannot give you the security you need. Jesus himself makes this third warning clear in Luke 12 when he tells the story of the rich fool who makes big plans to increase his long-term savings. The man in the story eagerly anticipates all that he will own in the future, but Jesus tells him he will die that very night and all his dreams will amount to nothing. The fourth warning comes specifically to politicians and leaders charged with looking after the poor: Do it or risk the wrath of God. Throughout the prophetic tradition, kings were charged with looking after the poor. Kings were God’s servants, and they were instructed to look after those who could not look after themselves. When they neglected the poor, they neglected their duties as God’s stewards of his people. 48
dr. david mcdonald You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. Amos 5.11 The prophet Amos, in particular, brought harsh criticisms to King Amaziah for his neglect of social justice and the poor. Amos criticized Amaziah for all the feasting and drinking he did while the poor starved and died. Interestingly, King David feasted and drank as much as Amaziah did, but David is considered blessed and seen as the archetype of delight, whereas Amaziah is considered a drunken sot. The difference, of course, is that David danced and drank and ate while upholding righteousness while Amaziah ignored righteousness in order to dance and drink and eat. The real crime of Amaziah is that he lost touch with brokenness. He celebrates, but has out-partied his soul. I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5.21-24 Those in leadership and power are held accountable to God for the righteous use of their positions and resources. The old maxim that God helps those who help themselves is better replaced with a new one: God helps those who help the poor. 49
heart of gold The fifth and final warning is similar to the fourth, but is now given to all: Look after the poor. Obviously written to encourage poor Christians, the epistle of James contains a profound critique of the rich. James tells us in no uncertain terms that riches do not bring happiness (1.9-10), blasts those who think riches provide security (4.13), warns of wealth-sponsored misery (5.1), and chastens the rich for dishonoring the poor (2.6). Despite the fact that his audience is primarily poor Christians, the very form of James’ letter allows us to understand that the rich folk he is criticizing are themselves believers. They are either wealthy Christians who feel justified in their lack of concern for their fellow believers, or they are self-righteous and powerful Jews who are using their position and privilege to persecute the Church. In both cases, the Book of James reads like one of the prophets, reminding the rich that they cannot insulate themselves from God’s coming judgment with a shield of finance. In the end, we’ve got to conclude that God is deeply concerned with our use of money and wealth. We’ve got to understand that the way we use our resources is a litmus test for our humanity. We’ve got to be liberated, not from riches per se, but from the inherent selfishness that comes from growing up as privileged people in a land of prosperity. We’ve got to strive towards God’s vision of sharing what we have with others and cooperating with him to heal the world. Because everything we have comes from him anyway. This, I know, is an oft-mentioned and rarely satisfying reason for living ethically with our money. Most of us, when we hear it, laugh a little in disbelief at God making our cars and our cereal. But it’s like I tell my daughter, who simply cannot understand how God made Princess dolls and Cinderella castles: it really does all come from God. The Princesses dolls, for example, come from God because daddy pays for them with money he earns from a job he loves that he’s able to perform well because God graciously permits daddy to keep his good health. God protects daddy from being hit by a bus or being crushed by a tree or being stung by a heart attack. Though it may seem glib, it’s actually true that on any given day any of those things could happen and daddy could lose his ability to work or to earn and thus to have extra money for Princesses. 50
dr. david mcdonald Of course, it’s also God who has helped mommy and daddy to learn to manage our money and thus to have extra money for Princesses in the first place, instead of paying our potential Princess money to creditors. It’s God who teaches daddy about generosity and the joy of giving, and so it’s God who motivates daddy to buy Princesses even when daddy might rather buy a new nine iron or a subwoofer for his car. It’s also God who years ago taught daddy the value of hard work and education so that daddy applied himself and got the job he wanted instead of the jobs many of his friends have—waiting tables or slinging hammers—which may have reduced daddy’s disposable Princess income. It’s God that graciously allowed daddy to be born to loving parents in an affluent society so that daddy had little to no issues to make up for and was free to work without needing to spend thousands of dollars or dozens of years in therapy. That Princess doll, as it turns out, really does come from God. And so does everything else. What we choose to do with everything we’re given determines what kind of human beings we are. So don’t let money become your master, don’t chase after the almighty dollar, and don’t put your trust in hedge funds and rates of return. Instead, give yourself wholly to God who looks after his children, and satisfies our desires even as he sponsors and sweetens them. And look after the poor, because whatever you have comes from God in the first place and he wants you to share it with them.
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study guide for part one:
dr. david mcdonald
prosperity, abundance , delight
heart of gold
The following pages (and the ones at the end of each section) are designed to help you reflect on what you learn in this book. There are three categories: There are questions that reflect upon the text, Use these to stimulate discussion in a small group of friends. There are activities you can use to teach your children about both the practical and spiritual sides of money. There are suggestions for personal spiritual growth and formation. Please forward any questions or comments you might have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
dr. david mcdonald
Questions for furth er reflection 1. Take a moment to thank God for all that you have, acknowledging that you are indeed wealthy by the standards of most of the world. What does God want you to do with your wealth? Why?
2. How do you feel about the idea of prosperity, abundance, and delight? Does this concept resonate with you? If so, how? If not, why not? What can you do to ensure that you are not consumed by prosperity, but instead graciously receive it and use it for Kingdom purposes?
3. Consider all of the people in your “moral proximity.” Who are the
people you know? Who are the people you are physically near? What do you think your obligation is to these people when they are in need? What fears do you have about such “obligation?” What do you think God would say to you if you shared those fears with him? Conversely, what opportunities are there for you to reach out and help those you know and to whom you are physically near?
4. What warnings does God give to the rich? Which of those warnings
do you think you most need to hear? Why? Which of those warnings do those around you think you most need to hear? Are they right?
5. Look over the breakdown the socio-economic status of Jesus’ followers.
How does this differ from your pre-conceived idea about who was attracted to Jesus? How does this list affect your perception of Jesus’ ministry? In what ways do you think you’ve been (inadvertently) mislead about Jesus and wealth?
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Activities for you and your c h ildren Teach gratitude and appreciation – Each day ask your kids to name three things they are thankful for. After a couple of days of this, make the “game” harder asking them to repeat someone else’s answer or even an answer from another day. By increasing the difficulty of the game, we have to come up with very creative answers such as “I’m thankful for hot water to take a bath. I’m thankful for my wool socks that keep my feet warm.” We begin to see that ALL of these things are gifts to us to be enjoyed and shared. *
Plan a day that you will not spend any money at all or at least on a wish. No bottled water or pop, no coffee or sports drink. Think about the number of times you leave the house to spend money on drinks. Designate one day a week as a “No Buying Day”—no drinks, groceries, or rentals. After some time see if you can extend your no buying periods to three or four days a week. *
As a parent share your “wealth” with your kids. Whether through an allowance or whatever else you want to call it, give money to your kids. As part of the family, you are entitled to have some say about what the money is used for. As you share your financial resources with your kids, encourage them to share their resources with others. *
Help your kids create a “business.” Kids learn about money when they set up a lemonade stand, walk dogs, care for neighbor’s pets for a weekend, shovel snow, rake leaves, pick up sticks, dog watching, or baby sit. Some moms would love to have a 7-, 8-, or 9-year old kid come over and play with their younger kids while they work in the house.
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the elements of s piritual formation Do something for your SOUL What does faith have to do with it anyway? Faith and money are intricately connected. Without faith in God, who is active and personal, much of our decision making in life is driven by some sort of fear. The Bible says we are not to worry, especially about the very basics of life. Instead, we are to eagerly pursue God and His work in the world. Take a look at one of Jesusâ€™ teachings on the matter in Matthew 6.25-34. Pray about your faith, especially in relation to money. Do you worry about it? How does your life exhibit faith that Godâ€™s promise is true, that He will meet your needs as you earnestly seek Him? Talk to God honestly about your feelings. Try writing a letter to Him, asking Him to help you have faith. Do something for your CHURCH Pray for the financial needs of your local church. God has given us the responsibility of nurturing the church, to keep it healthy and growing. Prayer is just one of the ways we can remain focused on the needs of your church. Though most churches have many needs, finances is probably one of the top ones. Commit a few minutes each day to pray for your church and the financial issues it is facing. Pray that the needs would be met this quarter. Pray for how God might use you to help meet that financial need and then follow through on that leading.
heart of gold Do something for your RELATIONSHIPS Combat hoarding. Teach your children about living simply. If you haven’t used it in the past year, you don’t need it. It’s as simple as that. Take time with your family to go through your “storage” spots. Yep, all of them (closets, cupboards, the garage, the attic, the storage unit, drawers, etc). Make a weekend project of it, or do just a space or two each week. Sort items into keep, give away, sell, and trash piles. Your “keep” pile should remain the smallest one. Make sure your kids are part of the sorting process, allowing them to take ownership of their spaces. As you sort, take the opportunity to talk with your children about the difference between needs and wants. Praise them as they show understanding. A good place to begin dialogue might be in reading together the story of the foolish rich man, found in Luke 12.16-21. He kept building more barns for more stuff. Follow through on taking care of the piles with your children. Allow them to experience the giving away and purging of the items.
Do something for your WORLD Dream about righting something wrong in the world. If money were not a factor, what would you like to set in motion or participate in to help heal the world? What dream do you have that needs to be put in motion? Put that dream down on paper. Write as many details about it as you can: Who is it intended to help, how would it help right the world, what short term and long term goals can you set, what steps are necessary to set your dream in motion, with whom might you partner? Commit your dream to prayer. Talk to God about it. What leading do you sense from His Spirit as you pray and seek Him? Is He telling you to move forward? If so, how?
dr. david mcdonald
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dr. david mcdonald
part two: m on e y in r ea l lif e Before we can enthusiastically partner with God to heal the world, we need to get our own personal finances in order.
This will be hard.
Itâ€™s a requirement, though, for Christ-followers to be diligent students and stewards of money.
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Money wonâ€™t behave unless you tame it. P.T. Barnum The poorest man I ever knew only had lots of money. John D Rockefeller My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Hosea 4.6 Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6.6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to restand poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man. Proverbs 6.6-11 62
dr. david mcdonald As I prepared to write this book (and teach this material to my friends at Westwinds), I was struck that most of us don’t know a thing about real money. Before this realization, I’d been planning to focus most of my energy on the high falutin’ concept of depowering Mammon—the meat and potatoes of sections three and four in this book. But it troubled me that, even if I equipped my friends and readers to understand Mammon and to combat it in their minds, hearts, and spirits, they’d still have no way of knowing how to actually live. Until we understand the basics of personal finance, top-tier issues like depowering Mammon, creative generosity, micro-lending, and koinonia have almost no significance to us. For most of us, we’re just trying to figure out how not to lose everything we earn overnight. That’s a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless. Take, for example, my friend Kaila. Kaila is a nice girl who has always had a decent job and has been very frugal with her own spending. However, Kaila has never been able to get ahead in life because she always makes bad decisions with her money. Granted, she doesn’t go and burn through her paycheck every week on concert tickets and boy band CDs, but she does repeatedly loan money to her good-for-nothing brother who never manages to pay her back, she does thoughtlessly invest in ridiculous get-rich-quick internet scams, and she has signed up and dropped out of college (thereby losing her deposit) more times than Tom Cruise has said something crazy on television. Kaila is so bad with money that she is unable to look after herself, unable to give to her church or any of the charitable causes she sincerely believes in, and is certainly unable to help anyone other than her brother ever. The only real thing Kaila needs to know about money is how to get a handle on it. 63
heart of gold Knowing the basics will help her sift through the great biblical teaching on money that will transform her life from merely getting by into a cooperate agent with God as he works to heal the world. That was a long way to say first things first. As finance guru Dave Ramsey has so often said, living right is not complicated; it may be difficult, but it is not complicated. I couldn’t agree more. In this chapter we’re going to talk about one very basic financial truth: You have to take responsibility for your money. You have to sort it out. You have to come to terms with your obligation to get your financial life in order for God, for your children, for your friends who will have to support you if you don’t grow up in this area. But mostly you have to get your financial life in order for yourself so you can go from being someone who needs help to someone who’s able to help. Winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem; doing it is. Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it. Dave Ramsey Because we live in such a wealthy country at such a wealthy time (all recession woes to the contrary), it’s easy to be deceived into thinking that things will be alright. It’s easy to believe we’ll always have food on the table – even if its modest food – and always have a roof over our heads – even if it leaks a bit – and always have a car to drive – even if it too drips everywhere – and we’ll always have a job – even if it doesn’t pay what we want or have the benefits we desire.
dr. david mcdonald It’s easy to believe that we’ll be able to make ends meet after retirement, even if we live to be 90 years old, because something good will happen to take care of us. Well, that is easy to believe…unless you live in my town. Jackson, Michigan has some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and there are few jobs and fewer jobs with benefits to be found anywhere in our area. Furthermore, people are losing their homes (which they over-financed and unwisely risked everything upon) left-right-and-center and have no place to go. Like the poor guy on my street who was evicted in the middle of a snowy February and had to guard all his possessions on the side of the road by sleeping in his pickup truck for a week. Or the local chiropractor whose house was repossessed by the bank, only to have it rented back to him by the bank for double his mortgage. Sheesh. The economic woes of middle-America have hit our church hard. Almost one quarter of our people are unemployed and are in need of some kind of financial assistance. The time has come for us to wake up to the fact that we need to do a better job about managing our money because there is no giant rescue mission coming from the government, the church, or the Disney Easter fairy to help us out. You are the problem with your money. Dave Ramsey We don’t always want to acknowledge this. We’re reticent to admit that there may be some personal, rather mundane and un-revolutionary, money matters to which we must attend. This can be difficult to accept. I am energized by dreaming up new ways to motivate our church to help the poor, to finance mission projects overseas, and to help our people understand the consumeristic tendencies of the North American Christmas-culture so they can honor Jesus with their money. That stuff is exciting. 65
heart of gold Sticking to a family budget, however, is not. Neither is denying myself a new series of novels because cash is tight, or continuing to drive my car that perpetually leans to the left when parked (my friend Craig has nicknamed it “Eileen”), or denying myself further education because of the cost, or refusing to use all of my tax rebate on a vacation to Greece because of all the other more pressing and more responsible things we could do with such a large sum of money. And yet I recognize that my own reluctance to attend to personal financial matters hides behind my idealism. You know, the feel good idealism of participating in Buy Nothing Day or the Advent Conspiracy that doesn’t demand obedience to the biblical teaching of honoring God with our earning’s first fruits. Or the idealism enabling wealthy housewives to attend $1000 per plate fund raisers for orphans overseas, orphans they don’t care as much to meet as much as they do about their image in society. The truth hurts. The truth is that proper and godly use of our finances is not sexy, but it is required. The truth is that it’s awesome for you to sponsor a child with World Vision for $35 per month, but it’s actually more awesome to use your wealth responsibly to look after your family, to give generously and sacrificially to your local church, and to invest your time and financial resources in a charity with which you can have a personal and relational connection and not just guilt. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. 2 Corinthians 8.2-3 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5.8 66
dr. david mcdonald A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the injured man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10.33-35 I’m not trying to downplay the charitable good we do, but I am reminding us that full compliance with God’s plan to heal the world using the resources he has graciously gifted to his people will cost us far more than $35 per month. For the average American, full compliance is going to cost at least 100 times that amount. For starters. Here’s what I think is important for us all: First, listen to the biblical teaching on money. Everything we have is a gift from God, entrusted to us as a resource to cooperate with God in healing the world, and for us to enjoy a few fine things along the way. Knowing this, we must allow our concerns about returns on investment to include things like love, peace, relationships, joy, laughter, dreams, rewards, and making a difference. Second, our culture is completely twisted on the issue of money— prioritizing wants over needs without any hesitation. So we must learn to live counter-culturally to be people who rise above the common frustrations and felt-poverty of ordinary Americans. We need to decrease our expenses and control our desires. We need to learn to be content, keeping our lifestyle more or less the same whether we get a big raise, a big bonus, a big tax return, or whatever. It’s not getting what you want, it’s wanting what you got. Sheryl Crow 67
heart of gold Life’s not about how much you have, but about how little you need. my friend, Laurie Teasedale Third, we need to be honorable and righteous with our money, avoiding anything that produces addiction in us and refusing to purchase anything that comes at the cost of another’s basic rights and human dignity. Finally, we need to save. At some point, our ability to earn will likely be depleted and – even if that’s sixty years from now – the cute check the government sends is not enough to live off of comfortably, much less be redistributed to others as part of our cooperative effort to shadow God and heal the world. I want to leave you with one final thought: If someone were to give you one million dollars tomorrow how long would take for you to spend it? Better yet, if everyone on the planet were given one million dollars tomorrow, how long you do think it would take for those who are wealthy now to once again profit from those who are presently poor? Is that really just because the currentlywealthy are sneaky and corrupt? Or is it possible that the currently-wealthy actually know a thing or two about money and have trained themselves to be faithful stewards of all they own? If you were God, to whom would you entrust all your riches, the resources through which you plan to heal the world? The person who would spend a million in a moment, or the person who would educate themselves about money, discipline themselves about expenditures, investments, and savings? Who are you going to become?
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it’ s hard wor k , wor k in g hard Financial freedom is not about the love of money; rather, it’s the result of the love of God. Michael Slaughter Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms shall be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Proverbs 24.3-4 He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Luke 16:10 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. Proverbs 15:22 Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. Ecclesiastes 11:2 This chapter is about working hard. It’s about working hard on a budget. It’s about working hard to stick to your budget. 70
dr. david mcdonald When I do premarital counseling I always tell people that the three things that could destroy their marriages are their feelings about money, sex, and family. If they can get on the same page concerning those big issues and come to a mutually-agreed upon understanding of how they’re going to live in those areas, then pretty much everything else will fall in line. Carmel and I got married when I was 20 years old. As part of our engagement, we agreed to see a pre-marital counselor, my best friend’s dad Mike Richardson. As a young Christian man, I really hoped those sessions would be about sex. Instead, all we talked about was money. Mike was adamant about the importance of budgeting together – sitting down and working out a cash flow analysis so we would know when our money came in and where it was supposed to go once we got it. A budget is people telling their money where to go instead of wondering where it went. John Maxwell Budgeting should always be done together, even though at least one of you will hate it. We got in so many arguments because of that stupid budget. We fought about whether or not to even do it – I voted no and lost – and then about what percentages should go where and when, and how much we should allocate for stuff like gifts or holiday travel to see family. It was maddening. I hated it. And it was the best gift anyone has ever given me. Not that we followed all the advice, though. As I explained earlier, there were a few years we chose to enroll in the school of hard knocks, but when we finally became serious about managing our money, Mike ensured we had the tools to do so.
heart of gold Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6.11 By teaching us to pray for our daily bread, Jesus reminded us that our ordinary lives matter to God and are in fact part of our spirituality. The way we live, spend, earn, and manage our money is not something that God ignores. He cares deeply about what we do with money, and not just how much we give to the church but about every single purchase and credit. We are not supposed to treat money with indifference, nor are we to assume that money will just show up if we’re nice. Money isn’t miraculous, just as it isn’t accidental. It must be earned or created. That will require hard work. In God’s ideal plan, every person is a worker. Regardless of how old you are or how incapable, scripture emphasizes work as the primary means to look after us in real life. The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. Proverbs 13.4 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14.23 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependant on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4.11-12 For even when we were with you we gave you this rule: if a man shall not work, he shall not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3.10 Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. Titus 3.14 72
dr. david mcdonald I’ll be honest: it drives me nuts when I see someone out of work and not passionately pursuing employment. I understand that life is difficult, and that work can be difficult to find, but I also understand that laziness is often cultivated in front of the Playstation 3 or the Grey’s Anatomy marathon. One of the worst examples of laziness I was ever confronted with concerned professional football players who went on social assistance in the off-season, earning about 60% of their income. Granted, these were Canadian Football League players, so their earnings were only commensurate with mid-level professionals instead of the multi-millionaire NFL stars, but I was disgusted. When I asked a friend of mine – one of the guilty – about why he did this, he responded, “Why turn down free money?” Because it’s wrong. Because a million others need it more than you do. Because you’re abusing a system designed to help those who cannot help themselves. Because you could make the same amount of money doing any number of jobs that – in his case – are freely available to you given your high profile as status as an athlete. Contrast my CFL friend with Scottt (yes, there are supposed to be three t’s in Scott-t), a young guy without work who volunteers about 25 hours a week around our church doing everything from janitorial work to office administration. Scottt is looking for paid employment, but spends the remainder of his time working for free. Because work is valuable, even if it’s unpaid. And if anyone ever asked me for a reference – as they often do – Scottt’s name would be at the top of every list. He has proven himself far more than my 110 yard running, oversized-and-underlaced-ball-catching, junior-leagueenterprising, social-assistance-robbing CFL friend. And, yes, I let my CFL friend experience the full-measure of my righteous indignation. 73
heart of gold And, yes, he went out and got a real job the following off-season…which was pretty cool. Everyone should work. Everyone should budget. Everyone should do what they can to live on what they need. Everyone should sit down with the people their budget affects and budget together, building consensus (a.k.a. tearing each other’s heads off in fury) and taking everyone’s particular needs and wants into consideration (a.k.a. storming around the kitchen screaming, “What about what I need?!”). Even though that’s easy to understand on paper, it can be very difficult to achieve in real life. But take heart. The Holy Spirit is with us. Jesus is our teacher. He will guide us through all of the craziness and confusion because he really does want something better for you than what you are currently experiencing. God sees your situation. He knows you need help. He’s given you the resources in this book to help you. He’ll remind you to work hard, and to work a budget.
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debt is t h e dev il
We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. Dave Ramsey For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry, of facing either plenty or poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me. Philippians 4:11-13 Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 5:10 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1 For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you. Deuteronomy 15:6
dr. david mcdonald The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. Psalm 37:21 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave. Proverbs 22:7 I hate my basement flooring. We put carpet into our basement about 3 years ago to cover the unfinished concrete floor. We didn’t have much money, so we bought cheap carpet. It’s terrible. It has runs along the length of the floor, nappy bits where the dog’s feet have worn it out, and crayon stains from the kids. I am fortunate to have an office at home in my basement. I was unfortunate earlier this year when my basement flooded without my knowledge. I found out when the carpet started to stink. I had to rip out the carpet in my basement office, so now my basement is only partially carpeted. Did I mention that I hate it? It’s embarrassing, frustrating, and unfixable. But I refuse to spend the money on new flooring because I don’t have it in cash. I could easily go and borrow it, or cash in some of our stocks, or put it on my credit card but all of those things would be long-term foolishness. By the time I’d paid off the debt I’d incurred, I’d have replaced this flooring three more times. So I’m learning to hate it less, and tolerate it more, thanking God that I even have a home with a basement and an office and a dog and two kids and a beautiful wife and no concerns more significant or worth complaining about than my crummy flooring. Had this all happened four or five years ago, however, I would not have put up with it. I would have gone straight to the hardware store and put newer and better flooring in the basement and just charged it onto my credit card. But that, of course, is how I racked up $17,000 in consumer debt the first time around…so I’m not likely to make that mistake again. Lesson learned. 77
heart of gold Sadly, it seems to take something like $17K for us to learn that debt sucks. Many of us go into debt for things that should never be amortized: furniture, home entertainment, stuff we buy on TV or the internet, gifts. In fact, I think the only reason most of us don’t own a pet elephant is that we’ve never been offered one for no money down and easy weekly payments. The problem is that we’ve been conditioned to believe that yesterday’s luxuries are today’s necessities. Kalle Lasn In order to get some measure of financial freedom you’re going to have to get control of your income. You’re going to have to learn to refrain from buying stuff you want until you can safely afford it. For Carmel and I, this only happened because we froze and then cut up all of our credit cards. We had to cut them up because I kept finding ways to speeddefrost the credit cards and buy stuff when Carmel wasn’t around. We also went through all our online accounts – Amazon.com, iTunes, and others – and removed all our auto-pay information so we couldn’t cheat. We left ourselves without any emergency money whatsoever – which isn’t necessarily something I would advise, but in our case it was the only way to ensure we wouldn’t give ourselves permission to have frequent emergencies. We referred to this as plastic surgery—the precision-removal of all plastic credit. It was hard. We aggressively attacked our debt load, laughing as our credit scores began to rise and our spending limit on our Visa card just got bigger and bigger and bigger with lower and lower and lower interest rates. Just before we moved stateside, our Visa limit was just under $20,000 with 5.0% interest. But we never used it again. Ever. Not even once. 78
dr. david mcdonald That felt good. Of course, once we arrived in Michigan we were informed that none of our Canadian credit scores transferred stateside, so we had to start all over again establishing credit. It turns out America and Canada are actually different countries with different banking systems and different ways of scoring credit. Who knew? But that, as they say, is another story. Suffice to say that we’ve had the grand privilege of rebuilding our credit from scratch twice now. When we tell (the very few) people our story, they often look at us like we’re from another planet: a planet where debt isn’t the norm. Because here, of course, it is. Debt is so ingrained into our culture that most Americans can’t even envision a car without a payment, a house without a mortgage, a student without a loan, and credit without cards…just as slaves born into slavery can’t visualize freedom, we Americans don’t know what it would be like to wake up to no debt. Dave Ramsey Our premarital counselor, Mike, helped Carmel and I understand that there are two keys to getting out of debt: discipline and delayed gratification. Discipline means doing the right thing, even when it feels bad. It is, perhaps, hardest to be disciplined with our finances, but that is also why financial discipline is so powerful – it is a key strategic area we can use to discipline other areas of life. Financial discipline means paying God, then yourself, then fighting tooth and nail to get rid of all your debts so you can be free to spend your own money. Anytime you go to a credit card and accrue interest on your purchases, you demonstrate a desire to possess something you do not have the 79
heart of gold means to possess. God’s blessing can’t be experienced by acquiring what you don’t have but only by releasing what you do have. God will only bless and empower what you release to God’s purpose. Michael Slaughter Delayed gratification is the other key to getting out of debt. This means not purchasing things you cannot afford to pay for in cash. Some may wonder about using credit purchase assets (something that makes you money, like a rental property or a business loan, etc.) and there may good ways to go about doing that. I, however, am simply addressing the issue of personal financial management and in that regard I think it is paramount that we learn to be content with what we can afford. This will be hard at first, because we have not developed the character to overcome our desires; but it will get easier. Character is not formed in a moment, but cultivated over a long period of time through delayed gratification. When I was a young pastor I voluntarily chose to refuse myself a month’s worth of purchases (apart from groceries and other necessities) in order to cultivate a little delayed gratification. I remember a moment where I even went to buy a new Bible, and then caught myself and forced myself to wait until the end of the month to finally go get it. Besides, it’s not like I didn’t have ten Bibles at home. Funny, isn’t it? I can’t remember why I felt like I needed a new Bible (of all things). Maybe I needed to feel holy or something. Maybe I was hoping that if I bought a new Bible I’d read it more. I suspect, though, that even the Bible had become part of my lifestyle of consumption. I suspect my desire to buy the Bible was more about my desire to buy anything than it was about buying that thing. Strange that even the Bible can become an object of consumption. That month was valuable to me and even though I would later hit a bunch of rocky financial roads, I think that my brief experiment gave me something to work with once I needed to curb my spending and get control of my finances. Now, for example, when I see something I want (even if I can easily afford it) I wait at least a day. Often I find that 24 hours later I don’t even want it any more. For larger purchases (over $25), I usually wait a week or so. For significant purchases ($200-500) I’ll wait a season. 80
dr. david mcdonald I planned for four months to buy my big screen LCD almost ten years ago, and worked a second job to get the money for it. Having moved from debt-laden to debt-free, Carmel and I are now starting to invest ourselves more wholly in giving and saving. We try to think of some creative ways to give, and weâ€™ve begun to sock away a little money in a few different places, but we really donâ€™t have much of a story yet in those areas. Our story so far is simply the staggering accomplishment of climbing out of a black debt-hole. But give us a few years, and I think weâ€™ll be able to testify that God has been as gracious to us in our future financial planning as he has in our past financial repentance.
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Training our children about money begins at birth. Randy Alcorn There are only three ways to teach a child: the first is by example, the second is by example, and the third is by example. Albert Schweitzer Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22.6 Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4.9 I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Genesis 18.19 What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from our children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes…and established the law…which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in 82
dr. david mcdonald God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78.3-7 Children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 2 Corinthians 12.14
Being a dad is always a great mirror for me. In the often hilarious sins of my children, I see my own rebellion and pride in miniature. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of money. So, for example, the other day Carmel and I are having a talk with our 6-year old trying to explain the concept of giving to God. Jake gets an allowance of two dollars a week in exchange for some chores around the house, and we’ve begun giving it to him in quarters. We were instructing him that he should give about 25 cents to God on the first day of every week. That idea went over like the Hindenburg. My son started screaming and running in circles, “No, no, no! It’s mine. My money! God can’t have any of it. I won’t give! I won’t give!” After Carmel and I laughed ourselves silly at this revelatory little tantrum, we sat our son down and explained to him a few important things about money. First off, we told him that the money he received all came from God in the first place – that it was, truthfully, God’s money and not Jake’s or Mom’s and Dad’s. Then we explained that the only reason Jake was getting any of God’s money was because Mom and Dad wanted to teach him about the joy of giving and the joy of saving. We want him to sock his money away in order to buy the big things he really wants – a Lego Pirate ship or a new DVD – and that will require discipline on his part. And we want him to know what it means to be faithful to God from a young age with his money – because that makes adult faithfulness much easier, and because it’s good to obey the scriptures, and because 83
heart of gold it’s good to give, to have a share in all that happens in the ministry of his local church. Even if it’s only 25 cents worth. My parents did that kind of thing with me when I was a kid. I received a dollar a week as my allowance, and it was my responsibility to take that dollar to the store and have it broken up so I could give 10cents to the church on Sunday. I’ve noticed something in my 14 years as a pastor about those who grew up giving: they give as adults. In fact, money is far less of an idol for children who are taught to give and to save than for those who are just given what they want when they want it, or those who have no limits or responsibilities placed on their spending by their parents. I’m amazed, on the flip side, by how many parents are reluctant to actually parent their children. I hear dozens of stories and snippets every month about parents not wanting to interfere with how their children spend their money… when their children are only in kindergarten. I do think it’s important to let kids make a few mistakes here and there so they learn for themselves. I do think it’s important to let kids pick what they want to spend their money on so they understand value. I think it’s terribly foolish to give your child a chunk of money with no instruction. That leads to college freshmen acquiring thousands of dollars in credit card debt. That leads to young people buying cars that look nice but that they cannot afford to drive. That leads to the purchase of a home where the borrowed value exceeds the value of the house itself. If you’re a parent, your job is to teach your kids. Especially about money. Furthermore, as parents we should always be careful to teach our kids that 84
dr. david mcdonald money comes from work. Free money is a dangerous thing. Kids need to understand the value of a dollar so that when they get their first job, typically working for minimum wage or just barely better, they’re not surprised at how hard it is to buy the stuff they’re used to having with their own cash. Conversely, however, we should point out that there is work that we will all do that has no guarantee or promise of money. Kids should learn the value of work for the sake of discipline, character, self-sufficiency, and the goodwill to help others. Our family friends, the Shafers, have three teenage children all of whom baby sit for us from time to time. A couple of times a year, one of the Shafer kids will show up at our house and announce that they will be babysitting for free that evening. It’s the coolest thing. These kids, goofy and grinning, reduce the cost of a date for my wife and me by half those nights. And they learned to do this from their parents. Teaching kids to work for free in some circumstances teaches them that life is not about getting everything you can from everyone around you. In fact, it’s a pretty good way to introduce the concept to our kids of the difference between being a taker, a getter, and a giver. A taker is someone who takes whatever they want, no matter the cost. They might steal it, or coerce it out of someone, or manipulate someone else to get it. A getter is someone who earns what they want. They work hard, save, and do what’s right in order to look after themselves. A giver is someone who earns what they want, and they help others get what they need as well. They understand that the money they have is not solely for the purpose of their personal comfort, but also for cooperating with God to help others and to heal the world. The Shafer kids are learning to be givers, like their Mom and Dad. So far, the McDonald kids are learning to be hoarders and embezzlers, but there’s hope for them yet. We’re even using Christmas this year to try and increase the financial instruction 85
heart of gold we’ll give our kids. We do a couple of cool things as a family for Christmas to try and combat the craze of consumerism. We divide the gifts we’ve purchased (or received from family and friends) for each kid into twelve. We then celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, where each day (beginning on the 14th) the kids open one gift at the end of the day. Usually the first few days the gifts are things like socks or pajamas, with the more special gifts (gifts over $5) coming after the 20th. Santa still brings the big ticket item on Christmas Day. Every day, when the kids open their gift, we video tape their reaction and a short thank-you message from them to the people who gave them the gift and post it on a private YouTube account so family and friends from far off can share in our festivities. Since we’ve started doing this (an idea we stole, by the way, from our friend Barb DeMann) we’ve noticed a huge reduction in Christmas greed as well as a greater appreciation for each gift. Gone is the panicky anxiety of Christmas morning where our over-stimulated children cry because they’ve opened every gift and cannot find half of them and have broken two of them before lunch. This year, one of our gifts for the twelve days is a set of three jars—one marked giving, one marked saving, and one marked spending. Anna will get her three jars, and Jacob will get his. The three jars are to help them budget. Twentyfive cents of their allowance will go in the giving jar, and 25 cents will go in the saving jar, and the rest will stay in the spending jar. The idea, taken from Randy Alcorn, is to teach our children that they should set aside money – first! – for giving and for saving, and then live off of the rest. The three jars are lined up left to right, so its clear that money may be moved from spending to either saving or giving, and from saving to giving (both of which are left-toright moves) but not ever moved out of the giving jar (until, of course, it’s time to give). We anticipate disaster, but the kind of disaster that is required in order to teach our children about money. Of course, after Jake’s first outburst about God-stealing his money we’re pretty much prepared for anything. In our minds, it’s better to deal with these greedy and selfish attitudes now while the kids are young, than to let these attitudes take root in their lives for a few dozen years before the Holy Spirit finally gets hold of them. And, of course, there are no guarantees. My parents taught me well, but it still 86
dr. david mcdonald took almost a decade of financial stupidity for me to wake up to the reality of how money works and to whom it belongs. I do believe, though, that if not for them and our pre-marital counselor, Mike, that weâ€™d still be in debt up to our eyeballs. The stuff you teach your kids matters. It wonâ€™t eliminate every problem, temptation, or stupid idea from their lives but it will help them get back on track faster once they realize the error of their ways.
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study guide for part two:
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money in real life
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Q uestions for F urt h er Reflection 1. What do you think is your biggest challenge with money? Where
do you feel like you’re losing your money? Where do you feel like you don’t have enough? What do you think you would have to do differently to feel better about this area of your finances?
2. Think for a moment about someone you respect who handles money
well. What might you learn from them? What kinds of things do they do that you admire? How do their spending habits differ from yours? Do you think, if you approached them humbly and sincerely, that they might share some of their financial insights with you? How might those insights help you get your finances in order?
3. Do you have a personal or family budget that you use faithfully to guide
your financial decisions? How effective has it been? Are there parts of your budget that feel constraining? If so, are there good ways to shuffle things around so you feel better without compromising your financial position? Who could help you look at your budget with “fresh eyes” to see these kinds of opportunities?
4. Do you know anyone who refuses to work or who perpetually cannot seem to find a job? How could you help them, without judging or condemning them? What opportunities are there for you to come alongside them and believe God to provide them with a good job?
5. How well do you typically do with discipline and delayed gratification?
Do you find it easy to avoid using credit to buy things? Do you feel satisfied with the way you manage your money? What kinds of things might you do better to help you be financially free?
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activities for you and your c h ildren Help your children learn the difference between needs, wants, and wishes. This will prepare them for making good spending decisions in the future. Name a variety of things: water, pop, food, chocolate chip cookies, house, boat, TV, five TVâ€™s, two sets of dishes, and so on. Have the kids identify each item as a need, want or wish. By routinely doing this it will help the kids begin an internal evaluation process. *
Use regular shopping trips as opportunities to teach children the value of money. Going to the grocery store is often a childâ€™s first spending experience. About a third of our take-home pay is spent on grocery and household items. Spending smarter at the grocery store (using coupons, shopping sales, comparing unit prices) can save more than $1,800 a year for a family of four. To help young people understand this lesson, demonstrate how to plan economical meals, avoid waste, and use leftovers efficiently. When you take children to other kinds of stores, explain how to plan purchases in advance and make unit-price comparisons. Show them how to check for value, quality, reparability, warranty, and other consumer concerns. Spending money can be fun and very productive when it is well-planned. Unplanned spending, as a rule, usually results in 20-30 percent of our money being wasted because we obtain poor value with our purchases. To help them get the hang of it, give your kids $20 and have them buy food for a nutritious meal for four people in a grocery store. Compare that to the money spent and nutritional value of four dinners purchased at a restaurant. *
Observe how much money you spend on drinks as a family (sports drinks, pop, juices, milk, bottled water, coffee, tea, alcohol). How much do you spend when you eat out and when you buy groceries for the house. Determine if the beverage is a need, want, or wish. Did you know that the average fountain drink costs the business about $.18 a 91
heart of gold drink for the syrup, mix and container? You are then charged from $1.29 at Wendys to between $1.85 and $2.65 at Olive Garden. A family of four could spend $8-$10 on pop at a restaurant. Many families could easily save $10-$75+ a month if they were more aware of their drinking habits. With this new awareness, how do you want to best spend your money? Itâ€™s not to say you canâ€™t drink pop or sports drinks, but perhaps it should be viewed as a treat rather than a main staple of the menu?
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the elements of s piritual formation Do something for your SOUL Plastic is way overrated. If we donâ€™t have the money, why are we spending it? What would it look like if we only spent the money we have and not use a credit card at all? If you are up for the challenge, try the following system: Get rid of your credit cards. Cut them up if youâ€™re going for a permanent Change, or give them to someone you trust to hold onto. Use the envelopes to break your spending into categories (groceries, fuel, lunch money, entertainment, etc.). Label an envelope for each of your categories. Figure an amount of money needed for each envelope based upon past spending. On pay day, divide your money accordingly. When the money in the envelope is gone, you are done spending in that category. This system should teach you about careful spending and curb impulsive purchasing. Do something for your CHURCH Volunteer to be a financial mentor for someone. There are people in your life who are eager to learn more about living on a budget. What could you offer to assist an individual, couple or family in the process of getting healthy financially? Contact your church office to learn more. Do something for your RELATIONSHIPS Set a family budget. Work together to set up a family budget. Take a look at your household income and household needs and budget accordingly. To follow a step by step guide on establishing a personal budget, go to www.howtoadvice.com/PersonalBudgeting, or use the sample budget in the back of this teaching atlas. Have all the family members commit to carefully following the budget you build. 93
heart of gold Do something for your WORLD Learn as much as you can about a Third World culture. Exposure is often a great teacher because it helps shape perspective, a necessary component for life change. Choose a Third World country to study. Obviously book and internet exposure will never match a first hand experience, but it will take us one step further toward recognizing the truth of our immense wealth. Pray to God and about what youâ€™re learning. Is He asking you to live your life any differently because of what youâ€™ve been exposed to? Are you willing to make those changes? How will you begin to implement those changes? Make a list of action steps and put them into action.
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part three: ma m m o n Jesus Christ spoke about money as a spiritual power called Mammon. M oney is not a neutral â€œthing,â€? but a force that seeks to control us.
Money must be conquered and made to serve us as we shadow God and work to heal the world.
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p ossessed by our possessions No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon. Matthew 6.24 NKJV Mammon led them on – Mammon, the least erected spiritual that fell From Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and thoughts Were always downward bent, admiring more The riches of heaven’s pavement, trodden gold, That aught divine or holy else enjoyed In vision beatific. By him first Men also, and by his suggestion taught, Ransacked the center, and with impious hands Rifled the bowels of their mother Earth For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew Opened into the hill a spacious wound, And digged out ribs of gold… Milton, Paradise Lost The effect of the capitalist system upon society and upon every individual in it takes the typical form of possession…its character is demonic. Paul Tillich 98
dr. david mcdonald Counterfeit gods always disappoint. Tim Keller You’ve just hired a new administrative assistant at work. Your wife is really happy about it, because – hopefully – the extra help will allow you to get home earlier most nights to spend time with your kids. Your new assistant is great – efficient, professional, warm, intelligent – but you’re a little concerned about her appearance. She’s gorgeous – a knock out – and though she dresses appropriately for work, it’s difficult to miss her perfect figure, clever eyes, and bright smile. Your new assistant is doing really well – all your friends and clients think she is the greatest. They tell you that you must be the luckiest man in the whole world…and then they grin wolfishly at you and slap you on the shoulder. You know what they mean. Your new assistant has taken a real liking to you. She’s become quite comfortable around you. She thinks you’re funny. She likes what you like. She’s very interested in who you really are as a person. The two of you share lunch a few times a week. Then dinner and drinks. You feel yourself becoming attached to her. You love her. You think only about her. She’s made your life better, but now she’s the only part of your life that you enjoy. You want to leave everything and everyone else behind so you can devote yourself wholly to her. Her name? Mammon. *
This illustration is designed to show you that money (personified as Mammon) is not a neutral force in your life. It is always a temptation. It is not a “thing” but a person, a power, a force that wants to dominate and control you. It might appear useful – like an efficient new assistant – but if you fall in love with it, your life will be ruined. 99
heart of gold Jesus introduces the concept of Mammon in Matthew 6, telling us in no uncertain terms that God and Mammon are diametrically opposed. So who – or what – is Mammon, really? Mammon was an ancient, near-eastern deity representing wealth, affluence, and especially greed. Figures of Mammon have appeared in a number of literary works – like Piers Plowman and the Divine Comedy – and usually depict the deity as a wolf-like demon. Mammon comes up from hell to inflame the human heart with greed. Thomas Aquinas Mammon is a false-god, a replacement deity for the true God. Rather than just a pretender, we are made to understand that Mammon is an alternative to God. Whereas God provides comfort, sustenance, shelter, and security, Mammon promises all the same stuff without any of the requirements for holiness. Like Pharaoh’s sorcerers performing counterfeit miracles in response to Aaron’s staff, Mammon claims to be on equal footing with God (Exodus 7.8-13). Mammon is not “against” Christ, but a “substitute” for Christ. Randy Alcorn Perhaps the counterfeit nature of Mammon becomes more clear when we recognize the word play between Mammon and ‘Aman (the proper Hebrew spelling of amen). ‘Aman is a root word that is used to mean dependability, trust, stability, faithfulness, endurance, and belief. Jesus is teaching us about the difference between the power of wealth, faithfulness, and faith. Mammon is something tangible. It is the enemy, the alternative, to the stability of God, offering its own (false) stability in exchange for our trust and faith in it instead of in God. Money is not just a neutral medium of exchange, but a power with a life and a will all its own. God’s good creation has both visible and invisible realities (Colossians 1.16), and Paul refers to these invisible realities as powers, dominions, and authorities. 100
dr. david mcdonald Because of the sinful and fallen condition of our world, these powers have lost their proper place in God’s created order. They’ve gone rogue. As a result, the powers of this world are described in scripture as a mixed bag – sometimes good, as in the case of stable government (Romans 13.1), and sometimes bad, as in the case of demonic spiritual adversaries manipulating earthly events in opposition to God (Ephesians 6.12) Money is one of these powers. It is capable of acting by itself (through interest, rates of return, etc), is capable of moving other things (as a motivator, money is hard to beat), claims to be a law unto itself (everyone has their price), and presents itself as a savior (“If I only had a little more money.”). Money is a power seeking to dominate. It is a rival god. Though the temptations of wealth and privilege are clear in the First Testament, it is Jesus who elevates Mammon to the position as rival. No other rabbi or sage ever spoke about money with the sharpness or the authority that Jesus did. None of them considered money as big a threat to our proper relationship to God. Jesus, however, was clear: You cannot serve both God and Mammon. Mammon is wealth that has been stolen – so to speak – from God and given over to a dark power. It is God’s good resource twisted for selfish ends. Mammon reminds us that money is not ours, that it belongs to someone else—to it! A person ultimately never possesses money. It either always belongs to God (when we are wholly devoted to him) or to Mammon (when we are in rebellion against God, seeking to hold something back or to take something for ourselves). Money simply doesn’t belong to us – as we all know every time we feel it slip through our fingers or run out the door. Mammon is wealth that is not enjoyed. For enjoyment is itself a grace 101
heart of gold – and Mammon and all grace are mutually exclusive. Jurgen Kressmann Mammon’s force permits him to possess his worshippers. Jaques Ellul This may be why Jesus refers to money as “unrighteous mammon” in Luke 16. If not completely surrendered to God, money will continue to work its own will in its own way. It will always have a foreign value to God and God’s Kingdom. I understand, by the way, if you’re a little skeptical about all this talk of money as a power. Yet nothing else explains the blind confidence that we continually place in our material resources. If money is not a spiritual power that invades us – captivating our desires and our imagination, short-circuiting our relationships, forming our plans and curbing our loves, enslaving our hearts and minds with avarice, lust, and eagerness, replacing God’s Holy Spirit as our heart’s counselor – then our behavior is simply absurd. We are not the first people to be confronted by the seductive power of Mammon. Aaron, the priest, was captivated by the power of Mammon when he burned sacrifices to the golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai (Exodus 32). Solomon, the king, was captivated by the power of Mammon – known, as he was, for his splendor and riches, his heavy taxation, the tributes he accepted from foreign dignitaries, and his aggressive practices of securing political alliances through marriage (1 Kings 10-11). Rehoboam, the king, was captivated by the power of Mammon, increasing the already heavy burden of taxation instituted by his father Solomon, so that he would be known and feared (1 Kings 12). 102
dr. david mcdonald Balaam, the prophet, was captivated by Mammon when he accepted money to (falsely) prophesy against Israel (Numbers 22-23). Shemaiah, the prophet, did much the same thing later on in Nehemiah 6. Even the prophet, the priest, and the king are corrupted by the worship of Mammon and lured away from God. When Jesus appeared as Messiah – the archetype of prophet, priest, and king – the corruption of these offices was one of the many things he cleansed. There are many other stories about Mammon’s controlling influence: Delilah’s betrayal of Samson (Judges 16), Gehazi’s deceit of Naaman (2 Kings 5) and then also of Elijah, Judas betraying Jesus (Matthew 26-27), Ananias and Sapphira lying about the amount of money they gave to the church (Acts 5), and Simon Magus offering to buy the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). And in all these stories, the corrupting influence of Mammon was their ultimate undoing. Delilah was dishonored. Gehazi was afflicted with leprosy. Judas hanged himself out of guilt. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead. Simon Magus was excommunicated. No wonder Jesus gave such stern warnings about money. Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12.15 The power of Mammon has been with us throughout the history of humanity – affecting the righteous, the powerful, and the everyman alike. It powerfully affects the world, the church, and even the family. If you’ll permit me one more story about my son, Jacob—it was a very interesting father-and-son confrontation about Mammon. Carmel had given Jacob her old cell phone, disconnected from service but still 103
heart of gold able to take photos and play simple games. Jacob was so excited, he held onto that phone like it was his life’s blood. Every night he went to sleep staring at the phone, flipping it open and closed, his face reflecting the blue Motorola start up screen, his mouth humming along with the hello-theme song. Within just a few days (two, actually), Jacob had lost all interest in the rest of us, in his other toys and books, in food, in sleep, in school, and in his friendships. He was possessed. So I took his phone away, gently trying to explain that he had an unhealthy attachment to something so trivial and that his behavior had become intolerable because of it. I felt like Indiana Jones trying to convince Elsa not to reach for the Holy Grail just before it slid into the abyss. Then I felt like Henry Jones trying to convince Indy not to reach for the Holy Grail just after Elsa had plummeted to her doom. Let it go, son. Jake was heartbroken. He cried for hours. He went to bed crying and woke up still weepy and shaken, his little body heaving and shuddering. Thankfully, that day was Saturday and we had time to sit down and chat. I told him about Mammon, about the story of Jesus instructing his followers that you cannot serve God and Mammon. I told him that Mammon was an ancient Sumerian idol that possessed its worshippers. I told him he had become possessed by his possessions. With big tears in his eyes he looked up at me and said: I don’t want to be, daddy. I don’t want to be possessed by all my stuff. Me neither, son. Now I know you’re probably thinking my son will spend most of his adult life in therapy, but I’m only telling him the truth – or, at least, an age-appropriate version of the truth (I left out the gory details of human sacrifice and demon possession…I’ll continue to leave those details out until he’s at least seven). 104
dr. david mcdonald (Just kidding). I want my children to know the truth about possessions. They don’t yet. They don’t fully understand how Mammon has taken hold of them in their little lives. They don’t understand that their refusal to share their toys, and their sense of entitlement and ownership, and their demand for more stuff is all evidence of a false god trying to work its voodoo witchcraft devilry in their little hearts. But they do understand that there are some things that Dad won’t let them do. They do understand that God loves it when they share. They do understand that how they handle their possessions is a very important thing in our family. And their understanding is going to grow over time. Mammon is already at work in your family. You better be sure that you’re at work in your family, too – showing them the way of generosity, selflessness, and thanksgiving. Money can become something evil in your home and in your heart. It can take on divine attributes and become a kind of false god, requiring your worship and obedience, ultimately becoming an addiction. That kind of greed is idolatry (Colossians 3.5). We may not actually burn sacrificial offerings to a statue of a Mammon-esque wolf-demon, but when money and career are raised to positions of ultimate concern we most certainly perform a sort-of child sacrifice neglecting our family for the sake of wealth and prestige. Don’t do that. Money is a temptation. Don’t give in. Don’t fall into that age-old, clichéd trap. If money already has you under it’s spell, then it’s time for a little disenchantment. In the old stories, that meant that the spell cast by the evil sorcerer was broken and there was the chance to escape. Tim Keller
heart of gold We need to free ourselves from the power of money, and the only way to do that is to turn away from the false god, the anti-god, the instead-of god, the god of gold, Mammon, and turn back to the True One.
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the false god & t h e true one Those who set out to serve both God and Mammon soon discover there is no god. Logan Pearsall Smith Money is a good servant, but a bad master. Alexandre Dumas Though riches increase, do not set your heart upon them. Psalm 62.10 Woe to you that are rich. Luke 6.24 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6.21 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Luke 12.33 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Luke 6.30 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager 108
dr. david mcdonald for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6. 10 Mammon is a rival god. Service to God and service to Mammon are mutually exclusive – you can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6.24). To love one is to hate the other. Is it possible to believe that if money were an object with no spiritual significance that Jesus would have gone as far as he did in his teaching? No. To love money – to be attached to it – is to hate God. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6.10), a driving force that separates us from our total allegiance to God. Because love – true love – is totalitarian. Love comes from deep inside, requiring your whole being, and it binds you to another without distinction. You simply cannot love two different things. You cannot love your wife, for example, and keep a mistress. You cannot love both God and money, because both the false god and the True One require complete devotion. Love for money is the same as any other kind of love – it requires everything from us, even if we don’t recognize it right away. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6.21 NKJV To love money is to be doomed to lust for more of it, cry when there’s less of it, wonder at the absence of it, and scoff at the distribution of it. To love money is to enslave yourself to it. This is why Jesus warns the rich that they are at a spiritual disadvantage (Matthew 19.23-24). The problem isn’t that they’re rich, but that their riches have seduced them and secured their affection. They love Mammon too much to give it up. Who needs God, after all, when you can buy everything he promises at Target? 109
heart of gold Using the image of a beast, Martin Luther said that we’re always being ridden by something: either the Devil or God. It might be the devil, it might be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Bob Dylan You have to make a choice between them. To avoid making a conscious choice – to read all this stuff and treat it like an intellectual exercise – is to make a choice for Mammon by default. Jesus is like a good, self-respecting girl who won’t put up with a two-timing boyfriend. Money is an idol from which we must be converted in order to turn to faith in Jesus Christ. If you want to be with Jesus, you must consciously make a choice to not be with Mammon. If Christ is not our Lord over money and possessions, then he is not our Lord. Randy Alcorn As such, money must be de-throned. It must be de-powered. We have to neuter money’s potency in our lives. This will require some big adjustments in our thinking and in our activity. For starters, we must understand that our world works on the principles of Mammon. Money is the way of the world – everything is commodified, weighed and measured, bought and sold, bartered and bargained. The mark of the world of money is the exact opposite of the mark of God. He gives. The world sells. At some point, we must stop being people who buy and sell everything – appraising all we own and all we are based on fair market value and a decent rate of return – and become people who give. Giving, more than anything in the world, depowers Mammon. 110
dr. david mcdonald When we give anything we are effectively choosing not to worship Mammon, but to worship God. These two worlds of giving and selling came crashing together in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. The world of selling lead Judas to sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. The world of selling, bankrupted and exposed, lead Judas to hang himself because he couldn’t figure out how to earn back what he had sold. Jesus became a purchased object – a ransom – and he submitted to the world of selling even though it killed him. There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men. 1 Timothy 2.5-6 The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10.45 However, by freely giving himself to the world of buying and selling, by freely agreeing to pay the price for our sins, we are freely welcomed into the Kingdom of God. Only once did God submit to the law of selling. He allowed his son to be sold. He agreed to pay the price of our redemption. Jacques Ellul God paid, so we don’t have to. On the cross, Jesus exposed the fundamental failure of the world of buying and selling. He now freely gives salvation to all who receive him. And that is God’s way: The way of giving. And when we choose God’s way, the way of giving, we are decidedly not choosing Mammon’s way, the way of selling. 111
heart of gold And every time we give of ourselves, of our possessions of our time, and not reduce all we own and all we are to goods and services, oddities and commodities, we dethrone Mammon, depowering our materialism and our spiritual fraud, and loving God instead of money.
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wrang lin g mammon
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6.17-19 Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. Luke 16.9 NKJV We cannot really deal with money until we are absolutely sure that we have de-powered Mammon. Until we are sure that it is God we are serving â€“ his interest, his purposes and plans to heal the world, his desire to help and save others â€“ then we cannot safely engage money and hope to remain righteous. In essence, we are seeking the overthrow of not only the spiritual power of Mammon outside of us, but the spirit of Mammon within us as well. The more we conquer moneyâ€™s evil side, the more money is used rather than served. It becomes a blessing, not a curse.
dr. david mcdonald Mammon may be temporarily under our control but we must always regard it as a wild beast, with power to turn on us and on others if we drop our guard. Randy Alcorn Christians are given the difficult task of using Mammon without serving Mammon. We use Mammon when God is in the control room of our hearts and minds, when his priorities govern and guide us. We serve Mammon when we make our decisions based solely – or even primarily – on the bottom line or the top dollar. Simply put, if money determines what we do, then money is our boss. If God determines what we do, then God is our boss. Jesus tells a very puzzling story in Luke 16, called the parable of the unjust steward. In the story, the steward gets fired from his job as a debt-collector and so – before this information is made public – he runs around to all the debtors and decreases their debt. Now, those who owed his master a hundred measures of oil only owed fifty, and those who owed a hundred measures of wheat only owed eighty. The steward was cheating his boss so he could keep good (albeit dishonest) relationships with his former clients. Jesus commends the dishonest steward, but not, as is often misunderstood, for his dishonesty. Instead, Jesus uses the story to point out that money should be used for stuff other than making more money. In this case, the steward used economic means to make friends so that when he needed friends (as he soon did) he would have some. Jesus is telling us to use money in such a way that when it fails – and it will fail us – we are still cared for. Two items in this parable are important for us: First, Jesus calls the money unrighteous Mammon, further demonstrating its inherent nature and underscoring that it is often acquired unjustly and used for 115
heart of gold unjust means. Mammon, we should never forget, generates and provokes sin – it is never righteous (not once in the entire Bible is money itself referred to as “good,” there is only the good and godly use of an unrighteous thing). Second, Jesus tells us we’re supposed to use money to make friends. This could not be clearer: Use your money to tend to your relationships. Share what you have in order to cultivate fellowship and charity with those around you. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Proverbs 3:27 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” Luke 3:11 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Luke 6:38 Rather than running away from money, we are meant to wrangle it and steer it away from greed and materialism and toward God’s mission to heal the world. We have to master our money. How do we do that? By giving. Scripture gives us every indication that money is made to be given away. Think about Paul’s words to the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 8.10-15) regarding the law about manna given in the wilderness. He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. 2 Corinthians 8.15 116
dr. david mcdonald Money must be used to meet our needs, and everything left over must be given away. Giving frees us from the tyranny of money. When we give, we are effectively saying that we have no share in the world of buying and selling (as our ultimate authority), but instead, like Christ, we choose to live as gracious givers. Of course I understand that when I mention giving some folks might be tempted to think this is just a plea to give more money to your local church… but that’s not necessarily what I’m saying. I’m saying that giving is the perfect way to undermine the commoditization and commercialization of people, the planet, and of our dreams and visions for a better future. Every Sunday, when we give our money to God, we should realize that we are participating in something sacred. We are choosing our God. We are leaving behind the world of buying and selling, choosing instead to live in the world of grace and giving. We are de-throning Mammon in our hearts and en-throning God. That’s why giving is an act of worship. Giving can be hard. No one feels like they have so much they can just toss it all away. Yet we should be clear that this hardness is evidence that the power of Mammon is still at work in us. If you are bitter about giving, or angry, or frustrated, or feel pressured then don’t give…but understand that this means you are still clearly under Mammon’s power. This is what the last line of the Rich Young Ruler’s story means—he went away sorrowful, for he had many possessions. He went away sad, not because he was given an order too difficult to follow, but because his true god had just been revealed to him. Furthermore, giving cannot be coerced if it is meant to undermine the power of Mammon. Giving under duress or out of strong feelings of guilt does nothing to remove the power of Mammon; rather, it makes Mammon a victim and gives it a stronger foothold in our hearts. For now we feel like we must protect Mammon from God’s overeager people who pressure us to do the right thing but are being too heavy-handed.
heart of gold Giving is the most profane act against Mammon of all. Richard Foster Now to whom should we give? The Bible says almost nothing about giving to the church, except for the tithe, but puts great emphasis on giving to God and to people. Giving to God most frustrates the power of Mammon. When we do, we are not only giving to God, but taking something from Mammon and giving it to its archrival. As such, we need to recover an appreciation of gifts that aren’t merely useful, but also beautiful as well. Much like the woman who poured expensive perform all over Jesus’ feet – an act of great waste, according to Judas – we must be willing to do beautiful, seemingly useless things out of devotion to God. The usefulness of things after all is a term of commoditization – an artifact of the world of selling. By introducing something beautifully useless into this world, we are showing that our love cannot be bought and sold. Give to God – give him gifts of music, art, laughter, and time. Give him your amateur poetry and your novice sketches, give him your treasured artifacts and your homemade altars, give him everything you can knowing that some may laugh or scold, but knowing also that you have simply chosen him first in your heart and chosen to show it. The other kind of giving scripture talks about regularly is giving to others. Honestly, I’m not sure any of us fully appreciate how giving to others positively affects our relationships. Yesterday, for example, I received a gift card from a friend at church who just wanted to do something nice for our family. My wife is currently recovering from surgery, so I’m doing the Mr. Mom thing and I can tell you we were very appreciative of the respite from Ramen noodles. I am touched by the thoughtfulness of my friend, and affected by his unnecessary gift. I love him more because he thought of us and put his thoughts into action 118
dr. david mcdonald to bless us. Not only does giving to others destroy the power of Mammon, but it also introduces others into the world of grace and begins a new chain of cause and effect which breaks the vicious cycle of selling and corruption. Jacques Ellul It is important, however, that this giving be truly free. We’ll talk more about this in the final section of this book, but for now let’s look at a fascinating piece of the book of Acts, in which the Ephesian Christians made a huge bonfire and burned all of their old occult objects. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand silver pieces (about $4.5 million USD if converted to today’s economy). Acts 19.19 By burning all this stuff – and by destroying the ability to sell it to others – the Ephesians were profaning something sacred. They were taking Mammon’s priests, if you will, and killing them. And so the god of money was robbed of his money. This leads us to an important understanding: Allegiance to God must penetrate the world of money. Somehow we need to find ways to infiltrate Mammon’s territory, to infect and infest it with the missio dei – the mission of God to heal the world. Believers can and should be called into positions of wealth, power, and influence. It is a spiritual calling to take leadership roles in government, education, and business. Some are called to make money – lots of money – for the glory of God and the larger public good. Others are called into positions of immense power and responsibility for the same 119
heart of gold purpose. Banks, department stores, factories, schools, and a thousand other institutions need the influence of Christian compassion and perspective. Richard Foster We need to immerse ourselves in the business world. We need Christian business people to make a difference in the marketplace. We need them as voices of reason and righteousness, just as we need them to help finance God’s mission to heal the world. We shouldn’t downplay the importance of such people – not everyone can do what they do – and just like musicians or preachers or school teachers they are very valuable to our churches. If God allows certain men and women to gather wealth and influence, then let those men and women be people fully committed to the mission of Christ and his church. That mission requires funding and planning for the future, and these are the very things that business people are able to supply in strength.
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study guide for part three:
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questions for furt h er reflection 1. Review the illustration at the beginning of this section – the one that compares Mammon to an attractive personal assistant. Allowing for gender differences, respond to whether or not you feel like that illustration was fitting. Do you ever feel like you’ve been seduced by money? Do you feel the lure of wealth and affluence sneaking up on you? Do you feel like sometimes your family (or your faith) take a back seat to more practical concerns like your career and your money?
2. How has Mammon affected you? Can you think of a specific instance where you felt like you had to make a choice between God and money? How did you decide what to do?
3. In your own words, what do you think it means to be converted from Mammon to Christ? How do you un-affiliate yourself with money?
4. Consider Jesus’ sacrifice, being paid as a ransom for the sins of the world. Does your understanding of Mammon and the world of selling affect your understanding of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross? If so, how? If not, why not?
5. Evaluate the idea that giving is the most powerful way to de-throne
Mammon. In what ways do you resonate with that idea? In what ways does that idea feel insufficient to you? Why do you think you feel the way you do? Who will you ask about whether or not your opinion is skewed or distorted somehow? How will you know you can trust their opinion? What scriptures will guide you in this regard?
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activities for you and your c h ildren Ask your kids what would they do if they are given back too much money. Talk about whether they desire money so much that they would lie to get more. *
Teach your kids about the value of using things but not owning them – e.g. renting DVD’s verses buying the physical item, borrowing books from the library verses buying them, and sharing subscriptions with friends. This is huge. Yes it might be cheaper to buy a used DVD for $10 if we’re going watch it often. But many DVD’s are not worth buying. Model for your kids going through the need/want/wish list rather than buying out of convenience. *
Visit a dump and see what is thrown away and wasted. Ask your children what they think about all that they see in front of them, and if they can imagine another use for all of this stuff that’s been thrown away. *
Let your kids make mistakes with their own money. Jeff wanted to buy a pack of sports cards. He and his father looked over the box and discussed what was in it. Jeff insisted it was what he wanted and Randy agreed to let him spend his money. When Jeff got home and opened the item, he was very disappointed. His eyes teared up as he realized it wasn’t what he thought it would be. (As a parent that is hard to watch. We don’t like our kids to be disappointed, but it was a valuable lesson). How did Jeff ’s father use this experience to help Jeff better learn to handle money and make better choices in the future? Learning to spend wisely involves a certain amount of trial and error. If you give your child an allowance but insist on approving all purchases, or if you give your child an advance every time she overspends, the financial planning lesson will be diluted. So, lesson one for parents is “hand over the money and try to keep your mouth shut.” (Of course, that doesn’t apply if you have banned certain categories of toys from your house for reasons of principle.) 125
heart of gold Here’s another example. If little Jane immediately spends her entire weekly allowance on Pokémon cards, but three days later sees a coloring book she “really wants,” you shouldn’t give in to her pleas for more money. In fact, you should rejoice because this is exactly the lesson you are trying to teach - when it comes to managing money, she needs to plan ahead. Fortunately, Jane will learn this lesson when the consequences aren’t too serious. Not having a coloring book at age 7 is a lot more palatable than not being able to repay $10,000 in credit card debt at age 27.
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the elements of s piritual formation Do something for your SOUL Everybody loves money…right? When it comes down to it, if we love money, we jeopardize our love for God. In the Bible, God says that the love of money leads many into traps, foolish choices, and harmful ways of life. Have you ever found that your love of money has lead you to make a dumb choice? Look up I Timothy 6.3-10 and read each sentence carefully, taking time to understand what it’s trying to say. If you need to, read the passage in several different translations (such as The Message, NIV, or New Living). Pray that God’s Spirit would talk with yours so that you may understand God’s word. Tell someone about what God is teaching you. (We would love to hear your story. Share it with Becky at email@example.com.) Do something for your CHURCH Have a generous heart. Dictionary.com defines “generous” as unselfish, liberal in giving/sharing and free from smallness of mind or heart. How would you define your heart? Would you use the word generous? Would you like to have a generous heart? Why or why not? Take some time to talk with God about it. Develop a strategy for how you will demonstrate your generosity. Understand that giving generously back to God is an act of faith. Try to see your giving as an expression of your trust in God and commit to practice it weekly or bimonthly at your local church. After spending time in prayer, determine an amount to give to your church and plan for how you will do it.
heart of gold Do something for your RELATIONSHIPS Contact a consumer credit counseling agency. Get help to pay down your debt by enlisting the help of a Christian consumer credit counseling agency. They can help negotiate lower interest rates with your creditors and assist you in establishing a payment plan and home budget. There are plenty of these non-profit organizations around. We suggest you take time to find the best one for your needs. Ask questions, learn as much as you can before committing. Here are a few places you might want to check out: www.familycredit.org www.christiandebtconsolidators.net www.familylifecredit.org
Do something for your WORLD Sponsor a child through World Vision or Compassion International. Learn about these organizations via their websites. Get a grasp of what each stands for and how they operate. Choose one and make a commitment to sponsor a child. Keep the child present as a reminder of what you have access to everyday and of the needs that kids like him or her have in other parts of the world.
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part four: ge ne r o s it y an d givin g God gives freely and wants us to emulate Him and His generosity. This is why He gives not only to bless us, but to invite us to shadow Him as He heals the world. God wants to share with us the joy of giving.
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steward of (middle)earth To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Deuteronomy 10.14 The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Leviticus 25.23 NKJV Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty, and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. 1 Chronicles 29.11-12 Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. Job 41.1-11 The earth is the Lordâ€™s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Psalm 24.1-2 For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field 132
dr. david mcdonald are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Psalm 50.10-12 “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the Lord Almighty Haggai 2.8 My oldest brother, Jeff, has a ’67 Mustang. It’s über-cool. Very Steve McQueen. While he was on an extended tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jeff loaned the mustang to my other brother, Dwayne. Dwayne could drive it as much as he wanted, go anywhere, and do anything with it. Dwayne was very careful with that car – sure, he drove it and enjoyed it, but he made sure that it never was scratched or dinged, was always perfectly clean and washed, and never failed to check the tires or the fluids. Because he knew that, at some point, Jeff was coming home and would want his car back. Jeff owns the car. Dwayne was merely looking after it. Dwayne was a steward. That is a pretty good way for us to understand property, wealth, and material resources. They all belong to God, we’re just looking after them. There’s hardly anything in scripture more clear than God’s absolute ownership of absolutely everything: whatever is under the heavens is mine (Job 41.11), all the earth is mine (Exodus 19.5-6), the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalms 24.1). All things belong to God – our jobs, our health, our relationships, our souls, our possessions, 133
heart of gold our time in this world, our children – everything! Knowing that ought to affect what we do with we “own.” We need to treat life, and everything in it, like God’s coming back for his ’67 Mustang. We need to care for and use what we have like God would use it. A steward is someone who’s been entrusted with another’s wealth or property and charged with the responsibility of managing it in the owner’s best interests. Randy Alcorn In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings there is a man called Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, who has been entrusted (along with generations upon generations of his ancestors) to rule the kingdom of Gondor until the return of the king. Even though Denethor goes crazy and tries to kill his own son before finally killing himself, Denethor is perhaps the most accessible way for us to understand God’s ownership and our stewardship. Scripture tells us that we’re God’s stewards over all creation, and he expects us to use these resources to look after one another and to heal the world. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet. Psalm 8.6 We’re completely in charge of everything the King owns, until he returns to rule it personally and locally. Our job is to be faithful to our master King Jesus until his return, faithfully accomplishing the tasks he has entrusted to our care. It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4.2 ESV
dr. david mcdonald In short, we must understand that Christian spirituality is not simply defined by stewardship, but is stewardship. At our very core, we are stewards, we are the people who look after stuff and we are here to act as God’s shadows, so that everyone who sees us will understand God’s nearness, God’s authority, and God’s priorities. And there will come a time when we are appraised for our efforts, a day when every single human being who ever lived (cf. Matthew 25.31-46; 1 Corinthians 15.51,52; Revelation 20.11-15) must give an account of how they lived, of what sort of steward they truly were. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5.10 I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Revelation 20.12-13 James Robison gives a great illustration of what this judgment may feel like. He says to imagine going away for an extended period of time and entrusting three of your friends with $10,000 each month. You ask your friends to give $1000 to your wife so she’ll be provided for, and then keep the other $9000 as a gift. One year later you return from your voyage and ask your wife how things went. She tells you that the first friend faithfully gave her the $1000, and that the second friend gave her $3000 each month – which was really cool – but that the last friend only gave $800 the first month, $350 the next month, and then nothing for any of the month’s after that. How would you feel if someone short-changed your wife while you were away? With your own money, no less? This is how God must feel. This is the reality we will be forced to reckon with at the final judgment, “Why didn’t you look after those things I entrusted to you?” 135
heart of gold If we are to be found faithful, we must be good stewards of everything God has entrusted to us. It’s crucial. God uses the very resources he gives to us to help others and to heal the world. What we have, in our hands and in our homes and in our hearts, is the means to answer another person’s prayer, to rescue another person’s child, to provide for another person’s dinner. That’s why we have what we have in the first place, and it will be the first thing God asks us about when we next see him face-to-face: When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave 136
dr. david mcdonald me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25.31-46
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naked and broke
Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6.1-4 This chapter is about generosity and giving, though not about giving generously to your local church. That is the following chapter. This chapter is about becoming a generous and giving person. I hope that telling you this now will help make this chapter’s content feel rooted in my pastoral desire to see you become more like Jesus Christ instead of feeling like an ecclesial play for bigger donors. For now, let’s deal with who you are as a person, with your commitment to the way of giving in opposition to the way of Mammon and the world of buying and selling. 138
dr. david mcdonald Sometimes we miss things when we read the teachings of Jesus, particularly things that are inferred. For example, we are all familiar with the fact that Jesus advocates giving money to the poor, but it sometimes escapes us that – in order to do so – we need to be in control of our finances enough so that we ourselves are not among those looking for financial assistance. Jesus assumes his followers will be givers. Jesus intends that his followers will not be the poor or need charity themselves, but will instead be among those helping the poor. Jesus promises a reward for giving faithfully. I used to hang out with this guy Rob who was a lot of fun but never had any money. He was in his early thirties and still lived with his parents, could never hold down a job, and often paid for gas with money he’d gotten from returning pop cans. Rob was healthy, intelligent, and personable, but he just kept looking for the (perfect) job God (supposedly) had set aside for him. Three separate times I rejoiced with Rob when he found new employment. Three separate times I was baffled when Rob called me within the week to let me know he’d quit his new (miraculously gained) job. Three things frustrated me about Rob: First, he was being stupid – if you believe God has a better job “out there” for you if you’ll just trust him for it, then trust him after your shift at your crappy job is over…don’t quit and go home to pray. Second, he was an unnecessary burden on all his friends – because he never had money, we always had to pay for him, pick him up for everything, and find nice ways to cover for him when girls would ask what he did for a living. Third, he was totally useless as a missionary – he couldn’t help others if his life depended on it, having about as much money as your average guy living in a newspaper tent. Because Rob wouldn’t look after his own finances, he couldn’t cooperate with God to help others and heal the world. 139
heart of gold But he should have been able to. If he’d not been stupid, burdensome, and useless, Rob would’ve been a great ambassador for Jesus Christ. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. If you spend your whole life asking for stuff, you’ll never be the person God has called you to be. You’ve got to get your act together, so you can help others do the same. Fortunately for Rob he had great friends, who weren’t too embarrassed or too shy to tell him he was being a wiener. He’s better now, but he still owes me money. (If you’re reading this, Rob, I’m still coming for my $50). Beyond Jesus’ instructions to be givers, there are two basic reasons we give: we give because Jesus Christ freely gave up his life to save us (John 3.16), and we give because Jesus’ Spirit lives inside of us, transforming us into new – giving – people (2 Corinthians 3.18). Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5.1-2 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3.16-17 God gives to us and so we give to others. God’s generosity is like a river, flowing from him into us and from us onto others. Many of us, though, feel content to let that river’s flow stop with us. Instead of being part of a river, we choose to become a kind of reservoir, hoarding the water for ourselves. Not only does this anger God, but it also has some long-term negative effects. 140
dr. david mcdonald To help us understand these negative effects, consider the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee is a vibrant ecosystem surrounded by a lush and fertile landscape. The Dead Sea is so full of salt that its acidic properties require you to cover yourself in a protective mud before you enter it…and, of course, nothing lives in the Dead Sea (hence the name, Sherlock). Both seas are fed by the same water source, the Jordan River, so in theory both seas should be equally vibrant and alive. The only difference between the two turns out to be a pretty big one. The Sea of Galilee lets water out, whereas the Dead Sea holds all the water in. The living sea shares what it receives, the other sea keeps everything for itself. If we want to experience all that God intends for us we must be careful not to let the flow of God’s unbound generosity hole up, stink, and die within us. We’ve got to keep it going. The outbound movement must continue. We are not the final destination – we’re like a midstream pit stop or an atoll or an island – the gifts flow to us, then through us. And, again, the flow of God’s gifts are not aimless. He wants to create givers who give like he does. Giving is part of his mission and purpose. Our giving is a continuation of that mission and purpose. Giving is cooperation with God, just as it is an act of sedition against Mammon and the world of buying and selling. It is an act of worship and enthrones God’s authority and priority in our hearts. We exist not just to enjoy things, but to pass them on. Miroslav Volf I don’t mean to suggest in all of this that it is wrong to enjoy any of the things that God sends our way. We covered that in the first section of this book, but it bears repeating. God doesn’t only give to us in order to force us to give everything away. He’s not trying to tease us with a taste of prosperity only to serve us a heaping plate of poverty. No. Insofar as we are meant to be recipients of God’s blessings, it is fine and wonderful to enjoy them – and even better to share them! – but there are certain, obvious times when it becomes 141
heart of gold paramount for us to do without so someone else can do something with. A good rule of thumb then, is to simply meet needs as you encounter them. Like Big Bot told Rodney Copperbottom in Dreamworks’ Robots, “See a need, fill a need.” If you recall, I articulated this in a slightly different way earlier on, stating that we should be responsible for those we know and those we’re near. It all amounts to much the same thing—Meet the needs around you. To flesh out this concept a little further, theologian Miroslav Volf notes that there are three primary times it is appropriate to give: when we delight in someone, when others are in need, and when we can help others give. In the first instance, it’s always appropriate to give to someone we love or of whom we’re proud. It’s never wrong to celebrate with those who have achieved an important milestone or overcome an obstacle. It’s never wrong to give gifts to those we love as demonstrations of what we’re feeling. This is what God does – he gives because he takes pleasure in both the giving and in the recipient. In the second instance, it’s always appropriate to help those in need – or, rather, it’s woefully inappropriate not to. We’ve covered this previously in the text. Finally, it’s always appropriate to give so that someone else might learn the joy of giving. Times when parents match their children’s savings, or when corporations match donations raised for charity, are good examples of giving-as-instruction. That’s a lot of giving, but it’s a good testimony to having unstuck ourselves from the tight-fisted grip of Mammon and firmly living in the world of grace. Sad to say, however, that not everyone has made that switch. As a result, our gifts are sometimes not appreciated in the ways we would hope. Father’s Day is a good example of this. We think and plan for weeks about what to get our Dads, certain all the while that whatever we give them will be met with a forced smile followed by a hasty burial. My Dad is the worst in this regard. 142
dr. david mcdonald Because he refuses to tell us what he’d like, we always miss the mark. He’s impossible to buy for. On his last birthday I inadvertently gave him a CD he won’t play and a novel he’s already read. Of course, there are worse examples than Father’s Day. Sometimes we go out of our way to be generous and our gifts are spurned, thrown back into our face, mocked, or discarded in front of us. A few years ago I had a homeless man come to the back door of our church and beg for money. It’s always been our policy not to give cash, but we did have a healthy food bank at the time and our office staff was able to give him two bags of groceries. We felt quite pleased that we were able to meet his needs right then and there. We were pleased, that is, until he stormed out the front door and threw the groceries in the bushes. Can you believe that? This guy was the world’s worst recipient and his attitude spoiled our gift. Having reflected on that experience for many years, I’ve come to realize that my sense of indignation at this man’s thanklessness tells me something—I’ve still got some allegiance to Mammon. Somewhere, deep down inside of me, there’s an impurity that wants to give so I get credit for my generosity and am celebrated by my peers. If my allegiance to Mammon were wholly gone, I’d have been better able to excavate those groceries from the bushes and happily give them to someone else rather than just get bitter and cynical. What I had not yet learned (and what I am still learning) is that, even if the recipient is thankless, when I give Mammon is still de-throned. Rather than being put off by false gratitude, phony delight, fake praise, or feigned enthusiasm I have to recognize that my giving counts no matter how it’s received. Only God loves every gift he gets, after all, so at some point I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that giving cannot be appraised by the response of the recipient. To conclude this section, I think it might be helpful to share some guidelines for generosity and giving from the New Testament. These six principles will help 143
heart of gold you better navigate and understand how to give, to whom, and how much: 1) We’re required to give. Christians are givers – there are no exceptions. We won’t all be able to give the same amount, but we all will find our Christological identity through giving freely and with grace. Like Paul told the Corinthian church, we should each give what we have decided in our heart to give (2 Corinthians 9.7). 2) We should all give generously. When a grateful women pours expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and is rebuked for her waste, Jesus instructs his followers to leave her alone. He is touched by the extravagance of her love for him, and he lovingly promises that whenever the Gospel is proclaimed her actions will be told along with it (Mark 14.3-9). It’s a sad truth that most of us would have been critical of this woman’s waste, while few of us would ever demonstrate such an outpouring of love to our Savior. In real life, we need to be less calculating about demonstrating our love for Jesus. We need to be calculating about our finances, certainly, but there are occasions (plural, mind you) where it is entirely appropriate to do something ridiculous and hilarious for God’s pleasure, enjoyment, and honor. 3) We should give regularly. Whether you’re giving to your church, or to a mission, or to a neighbor, or to a friend, if you don’t do it regularly you’ll soon find you’ve fallen out of the habit. Money that we give away needs, first, to be put aside for giving. Additionally, we need to ensure we actually give it away – whether that’s through unexpected gifts or monthly commitments to missionaries, or in random acts of kindness for the business next door or lump sums given to those in need – we need to make sure the money goes. Unless we give systematically, we’re not likely to give substantially. 4) We should give voluntarily, not reluctantly or under compulsion (2 Corinthians 9.7). Interestingly, when Paul gives that instruction he’s not referring to the weekly giving of believers to their local church but to a special onetime offering to support the poor in Jerusalem. He was asking the church to do more than they normally would, and more than they had planned, in order to help other believers in trouble. We should set aside money to give to causes like this one; or make sacrifices and find 144
dr. david mcdonald extra money for extra contributions to extra projects or special needs when they arise. 5) We should give sacrificially, like the Macedonian Christians who gave out of their extreme poverty (2 Corinthians 8.2-3). Let’s be honest – when you first begin to give, everything feels sacrificial. But giving is something we cultivate and, before long, what once was sacrificial has now become our standard. When that happens, it’s common for us to feel God calling us to make greater and greater sacrifices for His sake and the sake of His kingdom. Giving should always cost us something. We should feel it. Every time we give a little more than we can spare, we are choosing to place our trust in God. As the old adage goes, you can’t out-give Him…God will provide. 6) We should give proportionately. Like the disciples who each gave according to their ability to help Christians in Judea (Acts 11.29), or the widow who gave her two mites (Mark 12.43-44), we should not get hung up on the dollar amount but on answering God’s call to be givers. The key question for us always is not, “What should I do?” The key question is, “God, what do you want me to give?” Answers to this question vary from person to person, just as they vary for each person from situation to situation. But we must always be open to God’s challenge for us to do more than what we are comfortable with, though not more than we are able. The Bible is clear that God wants us to be givers. Ironically, I think the person who re-phrased the value of giving best is Stephen King in this article he wrote for Family Circle a few years back: A couple of years ago I found out what “you can’t take it with you” means. I found out while I was lying in a ditch at the side of a country road, covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg left poking out the side of my jeans like a branch of a tree taken down in a thunderstorm. I had a MasterCard in my wallet, but when you’re lying in a ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts MasterCard. We come in naked and broke. We may be dressed when we go out, but we’re just as broke. Warren Buffet? Going to go out broke. Bill Gates? Going out broke. Tom Hanks? Going out broke. Steve King? Broke. Not a crying dime. All the money you earn, all the stocks you buy, all the mutual funds 145
heart of gold you trade – all of that is mostly smoke and mirrors. It’s still going to be a quarter-past getting late whether you tell the time on a Timex or a Rolex… So I want you to consider making your life one long gift to others. And why not? All you have is on loan, anyway. All that lasts is what you pass on… This needy world is not a pretty picture, but we have the power to help, the power to change. And why should we refuse? Because we’re going to take it with us? Please. Giving isn’t about the receiver or the gift but about the giver. It’s for the giver… A life of giving – not just money, but time and spirit – repays. It helps to remember that we may be going out broke, but right now we’re doing okay. Right now we have the power to do great good for others and for ourselves. So I ask you to begin giving, and to continue as you begin. I think you’ll find in the end that you got far more than you ever had, and did more good than you ever dreamed.
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give to your c h urc h
One out of every five households (20%) has decreased its giving to churches or other religious centers. Among people who have decreased giving to churches and religious centers, 19% dropped their giving by as much as 20%, 5% decreased their generosity by 21% to 49%, 17% reduced their giving by half, and 11% sliced their provision by more than half. In addition, 22% said they had stopped their giving altogether. In 2007, the research revealed that among all Christian adults, 9% contributed one-tenth or more of their income. Among the most generous segments were evangelicals (24% of whom gave 10% or more); conservatives (12%); people who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week (12%); charismatic or Pentecostal Christians (11%); and registered Republicans (10%). In 2007, 84% of all adults donated some money to churches or nonprofit organizations. That figure has also remained consistent in recent years. 148
dr. david mcdonald The median amount of money donated during 2007 was $400; the mean amount was $1308. Those averages are higher than was revealed earlier in this decade, but represent a decline from the previous year. (The mean sum of donations per person in 2006 was $1348.) Barna Research Group, www.barna.org, accessed 12/10/09 God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9.8 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich 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 9.10-11 Our first year living in Michigan, Randy Shafer and his family invited us to spend Christmas morning caroling at a local senior center. This particular place was a state-run, low-income nursing home for elderly people with no family or friends to care for them. It was pretty sad. I’m not sure my singing made it any better. It was sad to see so many lives there, at the end, all rusted up and crusted over, vocal and venomous about all those who had abandoned them and openly angry that a stupid bunch of do-gooders would interrupt the inertia of their misery with song. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 92.13-14 which says: those who are planted in the house of the Lord will flourish in the courts of our God; they will still bear fruit in old age, they will be fresh and flourishing. It’s cool, right? Having seen, as have we all, my share of elderly folks who are not “flourishing” I take God’s promises to heart that there is another way to end my life other than as a sad, bitter, and lonely man. The key to a flourishing life according to the psalmist is being planted in the house of the Lord. It’s a great image. That image helps us to understand 149
heart of gold that following Jesus isn’t really about church attendance. That image helps us understand that the full life Jesus spoke of in John 10.10 isn’t experienced just one out of every seven days. Being planted in the house of the Lord means finding a church and staying there, putting down roots, sucking up nourishment, being part of the ecosystem of ecclesial life in which you contribute and reciprocate in good times and in bad. It means living with others, receiving life and light and heat and food from someone else. It means serving others. It means growing. And it means giving financially. There. I said it. Among the many reasons some people never get planted in God’s house is their refusal – for one reason or another – to give. After all that we’ve talked about up until this point – that God’s desire is to give you prosperity, abundance, and delight; that God’s desire to bless you is missional, so that through the resources he’s entrusted you with you can cooperate with him to heal the world; that God’s desire is to help you manage your day-to-day finances (and to provide tools to help you do that); that Mammon is a power working in you to foster greed and entitlement, wanting your allegiance to its way of buying and selling versus God’s way of giving; that giving is the primary way we de-power Mammon in our lives; that God wants us to be generous and giving people – after all that, I’m not going to try to convince you that you should give. I’m going to try to show you how. I’ve written extensively elsewhere (see Almighty Dollar, available through westwinds.org) about why I don’t think tithing (giving 10% of our income to God) is God’s desire for his people. Tithing is an Old Testament concept that was but one piece of a large financial system for the ancient Israelites. It was indelibly tied up with other financial norms like feast days, the sacrificial 150
dr. david mcdonald system, almsgiving, the jubilee, the temple tax, and many others (just to name a few). None of that stuff has been imported into our 21st Century North American culture, so it is strange and out-of-place (not to mention hermeneutically unsound) to import tithing all by itself. But for all that, given all the other options, I’m forced to admit that tithing is a pretty good place to start. When I first began to deconstruct tithing for my people at Westwinds, there was a widespread sigh of relief. People felt liberated from a law that had never fully made sense to them and they responded by giving even more generously. That generosity waxed and waned over the years, but by-and-large the result of us teaching our people to not be bound by tithing was an increase in perperson giving from about $20 per adult per weekend to about $28 per adult per weekend. That was pretty cool. I was, and remain, personally blessed and validated by the change in our people’s hearts and activities based on a change in their understanding. Tithing makes a good floor but a bad ceiling. Since I taught that series in 2006, however, a lot of new people have been added to our church. Our new folks, many of whom have only just begun to follow Jesus, never went through a mental or spiritual journey on tithing. The only thing they know about tithing is that we don’t really advocate it. As a result, they don’t have a strong idea of where to begin giving; so, they give in drips and drabs, largely treating the offering each weekend like they would treat Santa Claus outside of Walmart asking for Red Cross donations. Having tried many other ways to give concrete, practical advice to these folks I’ve come to the point where I now think tithing is a lot like training wheels. If you don’t know what to do, tithe – because it’s generous and sacrificial, it’s concrete and easy to budget for, you’ll get a good picture of how hard it is to put God first, it will remind you that everything you own comes from him anyway, it’s got great Old Testament scriptural support and lots of texts you can read to yourself to be 151
heart of gold encouraged when you feel poor, and it is a persistent reminder that we are to give in proportion with how God has blessed us. Don’t tithe because it’s what you’re supposed to do, and don’t tithe so you feel like you are a good Christian who has completely satisfied God’s desire for your financial faithfulness. Perhaps those last two points seem snippy, but I’m saddened by their prevalence among “mature” believers. The meaning of the word tithe is “a tenth part” and it’s referenced in many places in the First Testament (Leviticus 27.30; Proverbs 3.9; and Malachi 3.810, among others). Randy Alcorn says that tithing is God’s historic plan to get us started giving. I like that. It’s accurate. Many people do not give at all because they’ve never been taught. Tithing is a useful teaching tool. Kids who are taught by their parents to set aside a portion of their income or their allowance almost always become adults who understand God is their number one fiscal and practical (as well as spiritual and emotional) priority. Some, of course, will protest the notion of making our children give; but, in my mind, that’s ridiculous. I make them brush their teeth, I make them go to school, I make them apologize when they’ve been disobedient, and I make them give to God and go to church, and I tell them Bible stories, and we sing songs, and we pray before meals and at bed time. Because I’m training my kids. Because that’s my job. Because I’m their dad. Beyond tithing, there are a few alternative methods for knowing how to give. In my mind, these are best employed by people who’ve been regular givers for a long time. Using one of these methods (feel free to make up your own) invites God the Holy Spirit more deeply into our financial lives, giving him the opportunity to fill us with creative ideas about how to do more to heal the 152
dr. david mcdonald world and shadow God: You might decide on a standard of living and then tithe on that amount. Then, out of every thousand dollars of additional income, give an additional 5%. In this scenario, once we’ve reached an additional $18K above our standard of living, we’re giving away 100% of our income. Ron Sider, a radical anti-consumerist and committed Christian, refers to this concept as the “graduated tithe.” Another option would be to treat different revenue streams differently, giving away different percentages of those incomes accordingly. For example, you might give 10% of your primary income and then 25% of any additional income. This is what Carmel and I do. We give 10% of my Westwinds salary straight back to the church. We give about 15% of her salary to a couple of missionaries and charities. Any additional money I receive from teaching or speaking, we sit down and plan something extra we might like to do. We consider this final category our “play giving.” It’s the money we get to think and dream and plan about what to do with. Sometimes we give it to a charity, sometimes to a friend who’s raising support for ministry, sometimes we gift it to others anonymously, and sometimes we just give it back to Westwinds. At the far end of the giving spectrum is Rick Warren. Warren sold over 25 million copies of his book The Purpose Driven Life and the royalties were so great he gave back 20 years of his salary to his church, started a non-profit organization to help AIDS orphans in Africa, and now reverse-tithes, giving 90% of his income to his church while only living off of 10%. He’s my hero. Please don’t be intimidated by these examples. They’re only a couple of examples of how we might give – generously and sacrificially, regularly, proportionately and voluntarily – and how we might come to terms with our wealth and abundance. The important thing is for you to figure out what you will do. Many of us will need to take smaller, more manageable steps before we’re anywhere close to someone like Rick Warren. That’s ok. We need to navigate the tension between reasoned giving and risk giving, so that we grow in godliness and generosity over time and increasingly surrender our financial lives to Christ. 153
heart of gold After all, none of this is really about money anyway, it’s about the Spirit of God growing in us and making us new. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich 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 9.6-11
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study guide for part four:
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generosity and giving
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questions for furt h er reflection 1. Explain, in your own words, what it means for God to be the owner of absolutely everything. If someone were to ask you whether or not God has given you all that you currently own, what would you say? How would you explain your position to them using scripture? How would you explain your position to a child? 2. Go back and read Genesis chapters 1 and 2. What does God tell Adam and Eve to do? Imagine that this story took place in our contemporary contextâ€Śwhat sorts of things do you imagine God would tell Adam and Eve to do today? Are those the things that you do? Why? Or, why not? 3. What do you think it means to be a generous person? Do you feel like youâ€™re more generous now that you used to be? If so, in what ways is that generosity demonstrated? How are you generous in ways other than financial ones? Which do you think is more important? How would you define the relationship between financial generosity and having a generous spirit? 4. How do you feel about the idea of giving money to your local church? Do you think this is what God wants from you? If so, how much do you think he wants you to give? Are you able to do that currently? If not, why not? Do you feel good about your current level of contribution to your local church? Do you think God may be trying to stretch and grow you as a giver? 5. What do you think about the alternatives to tithing listed at the end of the final chapter in this section? Do those feel better suited to you? Why or why not? If you were to start from scratch and design a giving plan for you and your family, what kinds of things would it include?
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activ ities for you and your c h ildren Consider bringing home an entire paycheck in one dollar bills (explain that to the bank teller!). Get your kids and lay your money out on the kitchen table. Now explain to the kids what you’re doing, and then allocate each of the bills into piles that represent where your money goes. This will help your kids get an idea of scale (how much things cost in proportion to each other) and priorities (which things come first, e.g. tithe before mortgage payment before toys). *
With some of the older kids, go over the household budget. At each item, indicate if the expenditure is a need, want, or wish. Things like eating out, beverages, extra activities like lessons or sports, cable TV, movie rentals, and lawn service are good examples to begin with. *
To help your child set realistic goals, you should discuss what he wants to buy, find out the price, and figure out how much he’ll have to save each week in order to buy it by a certain date. Your child might want to have short-term and long-term savings goals. Visual aids are useful for children. For a younger child, you could cut out a picture of the desired item and tape it on a glass jar. Every week as the child puts more money in the jar he literally sees the money grow toward his objective. An older child could keep track of savings in a ledger and redo the calculations each week. You might consider contributing some money too, if it is a big purchase, as long as the money is used specifically for that item. Think of it as your “parental match” on your child’s 401(k)!
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the elements of s piritual formation Do something for your SOUL Examine your buying habits. This option is about gaining perspective. In our Western culture we often live blinded by our sense of need. We fool ourselves into thinking that we need when we really just want. Take some time to examine your spending habits. Ask yourself “When I have extra cash, do I spend it on wants or needs?” To go to the next level, dig into the reasons why you rationalize your wants into needs. Ask yourself questions like: What if I didn’t have that, what would happen? What statement am I trying to make by buying that item? Will I still want or need that item three months from now? Who does this purchase benefit? Check out Jesus’s teachings in Luke 12.16-21.
Do something for your CHURCH Give a double portion one Sunday. Choose a Sunday to give a double portion of what you were planning or would typically give. Make necessary arrangements in your spending habits to make sure it happens. Trust God, that in doing so, your needs will still be met.
Do something for your RELATIONSHIPS Go without your daily “indulgence” and give to someone else. No, we’re not asking you to go cold turkey for an entire month. But we are encouraging you to ease into the idea of sacrificial living by going without your favorite __(fill in the blank)__ a few days a week. Rather than buying that little item for yourself, buy it for someone else or save the money you would normally spend on it and give to a bigger need. 160
dr. david mcdonald do something for your world Give a little extra gratuity to the ones who serve you. Servers in restaurants often get far less than they deserve in terms of gratuity. Next time you eat in a restaurant that utilizes servers, be generous in your gratitude. Show it financially. Also consider those who serve you in other professional capacities: hair stylists, mail and paper carriersâ€Ś
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The Brothers Karamazov is one of the greatest novels of all time. In the book, Dostoyevsky tells the story of a wicked woman who died having never given anything to anyone. Upon her death, the devil seized her and threw her into the lake of fire. So her guardian angel stood and wondered what good deed of hers he could remember to tell to God; “she once pulled up an onion in her garden,” said he, “and gave it to a beggar woman.” And God answered: “you take that onion then, hold it out to her in the lake, and let her take hold and be pulled out. And if you can pull her out of the lake, let her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.” The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her. “Come,” said he, “catch hold and I’ll pull you out.” He began cautiously pulling her out. He had just pulled her right out when the other sinners in the lake, seeing how she was being drawn out, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But she was a very wicked woman, and she began kicking them. “I’m to be pulled out, not you. It’s my onion, not yours.” As soon as she said that, the onion broke. And the woman fell into the lake and she is burning there to this day. So the angel wept and went away. I realize this probably sounds like a story you’d tell to your children in order to scare them into being selfless, but it’s actually a good reminder about a key ingredient of faith: we are saved by generosity. 162
dr. david mcdonald Of course, it’s not our generosity that allows us to be saved, but God’s. In the story, however erroneous, the true heart of God is revealed through the guardian angel who is desperate to find anything of value in this wicked woman and her wicked personal history. Since all he has to work with is an onion, he decides it’s all he needs. This story isn’t really about how to get into heaven. The story is really about the generous and extended grace of God who chases us into hell and seeks to drag us out. It’s these expressions (of God’s grace) that keep me searching for a heart of gold. I want to live, I want to give I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold. Neil Young The generous, golden heart of God has been poured out to you and me, and indeed now lives in you and me, to make us abundant, prosperous, and full of delight so that we might share what we have been given with others and cooperate with God to heal the world. Lord, keep me searching for a heart of gold.
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SAMPL E B U DGET (adapted from Dave Ramseyâ€™s Total Money Makeover)
I have used a compilation of several sources and my own experience to derive the suggested percentage guidelines. However, these are only recommended percentages and will change dramatically if you have a very high or very low income. For instance, if you have a very low income, your necessities percentages will be high. If you have a high income, your necessities will be a lower percentage of income, and hopefully savings (not debt) will be higher than recommended.
ITEM Charitable Gifts Saving Housing Utilities Food Transportation Clothing Medical/Health Personal Recreation Debts
_____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
10-15% 5-10% 25-35% 5-10% 5-15% 10-15% 2-7% 5-10% 5-10% 5-10% 5-10%
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Bud g eting Scri ptures Go to the ant, sluggard; consider her ways and be wise; who having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her food in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest. PROVERBS 6.6-8 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenty; but the thoughts of everyone who is hasty only to poverty. PROVERBS 21.5 A prudent one foresees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished. PROVERBS 22.3 Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms shall be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. PROVERBS 24.3-4 He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a broken down city without a wall. PROVERBS 25.28 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty. PROVERBS 27.12 Know well the face of your flocks; and pay attention to your herds. PROVERBS 27.23 The lambs are for your clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. PROVERBS 27.26 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he may have enough to finish it; lest perhaps, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all those seeing begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish. LUKE 14.28-30 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 1 CORINTHIANS 16.2 166
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Scri ptures for Business You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. LEVITICUS 19.13 You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. DEUTERONOMY 25.13-15 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends, who conducts his affairs with justice. PSALM 112.5 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. PROVERBS 10.4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat. PROVERBS 13.4 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it. PROVERBS 13.11 Better is a little with righteousness than great income with injustice. PROVERBS 16.8 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven. COLOSSIANS 4.1 For the scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 TIMOTHY 5.18
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Contentment Scriptures The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. PSALM 23.1 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. MATTHEW 6.31-33 For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry of facing either plenty of poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me. PHILIPPIANS 4.11-13 And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you… 1 THESSALONIANS 4.11 Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 TIMOTHY 6.6 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 TIMOTHY 6.7-10 Keep your life free from the love of money. Be content with what you have. HEBREWS 13.5 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. JAMES 4.1-3 168
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Debt Scri ptures If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution. EXODUS 22.14 For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you. DEUTERONOMY 15.6 The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. DEUTERONOMY 28.12 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” 2 KINGS 4.7 The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. PSALM 37.21 The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave. PROVERBS 22.7 Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you. PROVERBS 22.26-27 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. ECCLESIASTES 5.5 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. ROMANS 13.8
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Gettin g R ic h Q uick Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed. EXODUS 23.12 He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense. PROVERBS 12.11 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it. PROVERBS 13.11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. PROVERBS 13.11 The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps. PROVERBS 14.15 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. PROVERBS 21.5 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. PROVERBS 23.4 He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. PROVERBS 28.19-20
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I nv estin g Scri ptures Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. PROVERBS 15.22 Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards, then, build your house. PROVERBS 24.27 A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. PROVERBS 28.20 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it. PROVERBS 13.11 Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who hurries his footsteps errs. PROVERBS 19.2 Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. ECCLESIASTES 11.2
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Giving Scri ptures Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. DEUTERONOMY 15.10 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. DEUTERONOMY 16.17 Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine. PROVERBS 3.9-10 There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. PROVERBS 11.24-25 He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. PROVERBS 22.9 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. PROVERBS 28.27 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. MATTHEW 6.3-4 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, â€œTruly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.â€? MARK 12.41-44 172
dr. david mcdonald And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” LUKE 3.11 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. LUKE 6.30 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. LUKE 6.38 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. 2 CORINTHIANS 9.6-8 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 2 CORINTHIANS 9.10 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Galatians 6.7 And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you send a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. PHILIPPIANS 4.15-17 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? JAMES 2.15-16
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Lendin g Scri ptures If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest. EXODUS 22.25 But you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. DEUTERONOMY 15.8 You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess. DEUTERONOMY 23.19-20 When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. DEUTERONOMY 24.10 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, â€œGo, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,â€? when you have it with you. PROVERBS 3.27-28 He does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. PSALM 15.5 All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing. PSALM 37.26 It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; he will maintain his cause in judgment. PSALM 112.5 He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor. PROVERBS 28.8
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Lov e of Money Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” MATTHEW 19.21-26 But the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. MARK 4.19 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? MARK 8.36 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 1 TIMOTHY 6.9-11 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you. JAMES 5.1-6
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Plannin g Scri ptures Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. “Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh’s authority, and let them guard it. “Let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land will not perish during the famine. GENESIS 41.34-36 Go to the ant, you sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest. PROVERBS 6.6-8 A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it! PROVERBS 13.16 Desire realized is sweet to the soul, but it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil. PROVERBS 13.19 Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. PROVERBS 15.22 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. PROVERBS 16.1 Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance. PROVERBS 20.18 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. PROVERBS 21.5 The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it. PROVERBS 22.3 176
dr. david mcdonald By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. PROVERBS 24.3-4 Prepare your work outside and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards, then, build your house. PROVERBS 24.27 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty. PROVERBS 27.12 Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; PROVERBS 27.23 Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. ECCLESIASTES 11.2 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish. ‘” LUKE 14.28-30 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 1 CORINTHIANS 16.1-2 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 1 TIMOTHY 6.7
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Prov ision Scri ptures They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” NEHEMIAH 6.9 I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. PSALM 37.25 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. MATTHEW 6.31-32 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! MATTHEW 7.11 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. LUKE 12.7 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. JOHN 21.6 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything; you may have an abundance for every good deed; 2 CORINTHIANS 9.8 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. PHILIPPIANS 4.19
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Receiv in g Scri ptures Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. ECCLESIASTES 5.19 John answered and said, ” A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. JOHN 3.27 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” ACTS 20.35 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 1 CORINTHIANS 9.10-11 For the scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 TIMOTHY 5.18
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pros perity scriptures Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him GENESIS 26.12 Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. GENESIS 39.3 â€Śremember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth. DEUTERONOMY 8.18 You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. DEUTERONOMY 15.10 When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. DEUTERONOMY 24.19 And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. â€œThen the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. DEUTERONOMY 30.8-10 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. JOSHUA 1.8
dr. david mcdonald Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed. 1 CHRONICLES 22.12 This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered. 2 CHRONICLES 31.20 For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. JEREMIAH 17.8 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. PSALM 1.1-3 Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication; and let them say continually, “The Lord be magnified, who delights in the prosperity of His servant.” PSALM 35.27 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 JOHN 1.2
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Sav in g Scri ptures The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. PROVERBS 21.5 There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up. PROVERBS 21.20 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naive proceed and pay the penalty PROVERBS 27.12 Four things are small on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: The ants are not a strong people, but they prepare their food in the summer; PROVERBS 30.24-25 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. 1 CORINTHIANS 16.2
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Stewards h i p Scri ptures Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. GENESIS 2.15 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. DEUTERONOMY 10.14 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 1 CHRONICLES 29.11 For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all it contains. PSALM 50.10-12 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. LUKE 12.42-44 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. LUKE 12.47-48 And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? LUKE 16.9-11
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Success Scri ptures The Lord your God will then make you successful in everything you do. He will give you many children and numerous livestock, and he will cause your fields to produce abundant harvests, for the Lord will again delight in being good to you as he was to your ancestors. DEUTERONOMY 30.9 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. JOSHUA 1.8 The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and buildâ€Ś NEHEMIAH 2.20 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. PSALM 1.1-3 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. PSALM 37.4 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before KINGS; he will not stand before obscure men. PROVERBS 22.29 The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life. PROVERBS 22.4 If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; ISAIAH 1.19 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. EPHESIANS 3.20 184
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Tit hin g Scri ptures And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. He gave him a tenth of all. GENESIS 14.20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the Lord will be my God. “This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” GENESIS 28.20-22 You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother. EXODUS 23.19 You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. EXODUS 34.26 Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. LEVITICUS 27.30 Moreover, you shall speak to the Levites and say to them, ‘When you take from the sons of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the Lord. NUMBERS 18.26 You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. DEUTERONOMY 14.22-23 At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. DEUTERONOMY 14.28
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Scri ptures about Waste And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. LUKE 15.13 When they were filled, He said to His disciples, â€œGather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.â€? JOHN 6.12
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Wor k Scri ptures Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. GENESIS 2.15 Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves. EXODUS 23.12 Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered. 2 CHRONICLES 31.21 It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. PSALM 127.2 A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a manâ€™s hands will return to him. PROVERBS 12.14 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor. PROVERBS 12.24 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat. PROVERBS 13.4 In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. PROVERBS 14.23 He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys. PROVERBS 18.9 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. PROVERBS 21.5
heart of gold
an x iety I, even I, am He who comforts you, who are you that you are afraid of man who dies and of the son of man who is made like grass ISAIAH 51.12 For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? MATTHEW 6.25 Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?”‘ or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. MATTHEW 6.31-33 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. MATTHEW 6.34 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. PHILIPPIANS 4.6 So that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” HEBREWS 13.6 Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 PETER 5.7
dr. david mcdonald
heart of gold
dr. david mcdonald
RESO UR CES Money Wonâ€™t Make You Rich, by Sunday Adelaja Money, Possessions and Eternity, by Randy Alcorn The Treasure Principle, by Randy Alcorn Money as Sacrament, by Adele Azar-Rucquoi Deep Memory Exuberant Hope, by Walter Brueggemann Hard Sayings of Jesus, by F. F. Bruce Affluenza, by John DeGraaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor Money and Power, by Jacques Ellul Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster Money, Sex and Power, by Richard J. Foster Counterfeit Gods, by Timothy Keller Beyond Tithing, by Stuart Murray The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey True Prosperity, by James Robison The Good of Affluence, by John R. Schneider Money Matters, by Michael Slaughter Mustard Seed Versus McWorld, by Tom Sine Errors of the Prosperity Gospel, by Casey Treat Free of Charge, by Miroslav Volf
heart of gold
We crave God's PROSPERITY, ABUNDANCE, AND DELIGHT for ourselves; it is only right that we crave it for others as well. God wants to prosper us economically, In order to heal the world. Far from the gospel of prosperity, discover how justice and mission are fed by abundance and delight. Learn how to get on your feet financially. Use your financial freedom to serve and prosper others. Cult Cultivate a heart of gold and free yourself from the hidden alchemy transforming your heart into a heart of greed.
The irreverend Dr. David McDonald is the pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. With a keen interest in cyber-spirituality and a love for Jesus that borders on mania. David weaves deep theological truth with shadows, films, and peculiar observations on American culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife cultu and two kids.
ISBN-10: 0982612400 ISBN-13: 978-0-9826124-0-8 Christian Living/Personal Finance