Hope in God, Live in Faith, Be Generous

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal”. Matthew 6:19-20

When speaking of storing up treasures on earth, I can point out antiques and favorite items prior generations have shared with me. They are all incredibly valuable, from a nostalgia or financial perspective. Yet when I think of these family keepsakes, I do chuckle at the extra care they require, from additional padding while moving, specialty cleaning and climate controlled storage and annual insurance riders.  Don’t get me wrong, these items are beautiful and I adore each for their own purpose and memory, yet they clearly demonstrate the adage “you cannot take it with you!”

Why is it, even with this knowledge and daily reminders as I walk through my home, that I can get so wrapped up in decorating or finding the perfect outfit? For the record, I am a shopper. I need to be careful about throwing stones, as I live in this glass house! Yet scripture and Kingdom Living has made me start questioning treasures on earth, like why do we build gorgeous display cabinets for purses rarely worn and for china place-settings we never eat on? Why do we collect cars we love too much to drive? Trust me, I am retaught this lesson often – from expensive sunglasses getting scratched within weeks of purchase, an overpriced designer dress getting spilled on the second wear and yellow paint “jumping up” on my bumper – I must be a slow learner, as God keeps trying to redirect my attention to Him rather than “it”.

So, what does it look like to store up treasures in Heaven? I like to think that when we pass through the pearly gates to our eternal home, that instead of dusty, musty smelling dark attics and basement storage units, we will walk into stark white-painted rooms full of our heaven-held treasures: piles of spent generosity and glittering grace, with over-arching rainbows of goodness… fortunately Apostle Paul teaches us the how-to in his writings to Timothy:

“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

I love this, simple and straightforward: Hope in God (1 Peter 1:21, Hebrews 11:1, Psalm 147:11), Live in Faith (James 2:20-26, Acts 11:15-18, Isaiah 1:17, Matthew 5:16, Romans 12:2), Be Generous.

Generosity is an area that God has been at work in my heart. As a former lender, I often had money conversations with my clients – from how much debt they were comfortable carrying, how much they needed for retirement and did they want any left to give relatives. As my faith grew, so did my boldness to ask my clients where they were generous in their community. I was often moved by clients’ stories of why they were drawn to a particular charity or cause – typically due to a God coincidence years prior – and even challenged those who had gotten into the habit of just writing checks around for tax purposes. Yet some clients had the  “this is my money. I can do with it as I like. There is no need to share” attitude.

Since I don’t have bank clients anymore, today I want to challenge you to think of the money in your accounts, the wealth you have accumulated, not as yours, but as God’s…

For many of you, that will be tough to read. You will think of the late hours you worked, the toil and decisions you made, yet consider this:

“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell”. Proverbs 11:24-26

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you (Lord), and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.  Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you”. 1 Chronicle 29:14

My husband and I were both raised with the notion of tithing. But finally understood the concept three years ago through a discipleship group on stewardship. Then and today, Marcus is far more generous than I am, from providing money to local charities to using his business as a financial engine for Fair-Chance employment. Recent I read the book “Abundant, Experiencing the Incredible Journey of Generosity” by Todd Harper, which speaks on everything being God’s, that we are the manager and that it’s far more fun to give someone else’s money away than your own! It was smack dab in the middle of reading that Marcus suggests making a sizable donation to a personal foundation. I verbally spoke the amount he was suggesting, to be clear of the number of zeros he was suggesting. (To be honest, the amount took my breath away). There was silence. The amount hung in the air. The amount hung in the air for what was way too long…waiting. I was at the intersection of two paths – to the left: “heck no, do you know all we could do with that amount?” Or to the right: “Absolutely, this is exactly why we have abundance”. …waiting. Did I mention that the amount truly took my breath away?  On my inhale, two simultaneous thoughts occurred, he is waiting for me to respond …and what “good” is it doing in a money market account?

 

Have you ever gotten to this fork in the road?

How did you decide which way to go?

Would you do it differently now if you could?

 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field”. Matthew 13:44

Have you ever found a treasure so valuable that you would give up everything else to buy it? That’s what my husband was presenting. We could make an impact, we could feel Kingdom joy by putting our money where our heart is.

 

Are you looking for more treasure in your life…pray with me:

Lord you have chosen me out of all the people on earth, you call me your treasured possession. Please use me to share your grace and goodness with others. Please build into me to rely on you, live the way you want me to live and to share your money. God, everything I have has come from you. Help me not to forget that. Adapted from Deuteronomy 7:6 and 1 Timothy 6:17-19

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