Money ... is something that so familiar with our lives. We work to earn money so that we can buy food and drinks, stuffs, houses, and live a good quality of life. What's interesting here is the "good" quality of life can be different from one man to another. Here I divided people into three categories regarding how they interpret their quality of life. For the first category of people, money is their everything. They think money as the solution of most problems in their lives. More money is equal to better quality of life; more money, more happiness. But for another, money doesn't have such a big value in their lives. Some may have already have a plenty of them, they spend it without thinking too much, but somehow still feel hollow inside. For them, more money doesn't equal to more happiness. But they can't figure out what's the better equation to replace that. And here we come to the third category of person: they are those who may not have plenty of money, but they can be content with what they have. They work, of course (we are not discussing about lazy or idle people). They have enough to pay the bills, they live a simple lifestyle (not a poor life) to match with their income. But the most important thing is they are content. Now, we have seen three categories, which one do you think really is a rich person? And which one is the poor person?
I think you understand what I am trying to say. Rich and poor ... at last aren't determined on how much money we have. Why is that so? It's simply because of true wealth talks more about our hearts' attitude rather than the amount of our possessions. People with lots of money but never satisfied, always wanting something more and more, can't be said as a rich person. They can't be content with what they have no matter how much it is. This discontentment will lead them to endless pursuit like running on a treadmill but going nowhere. Their lives can be either full of jealousy of what other have and craving for what they have or their lives perhaps are too busy to work to earn more and more money. The poor attitude will think that, "If I have more money, I will be happier." But at last, we know that when they already have more money, they always want more. Meanwhile, people with lack of money can also have the "never say enough" mentality. So both people (whether those who have lots of money and those who lacks of money) are actually poor. If people who can never say enough are categorized as poor people, who are then the rich people? Yes, the answer is clear enough.. the rich people are those who can be content with what they have.
"I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can dpoeverything through Christ who gives me strength."
-Philippians 4:12-13 [NLT]
Paul,has experienced both having plenty of money and lack of money. But he has mastered and trained himself to be content in either situation. That's truly a rich person. But a rich person doesn't stop there.. not only they do content with whatever they have, but they also love to give. Now, that's really something!!
"The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped."
-Proverbs 11:24-25 [MSG]
People who are truly givers are the rich one. People who dislike giving are the poor one. God loves to bless the givers! Why? Because He knows His blessing will be poured out to others in need. It won't stuck with that person for too long. His love will be spread out and finally His name will be glorified. Do you know why the Dead Sea is called so? The dead sea has only one major water source: The Jordan River. It flows from the Jordan River and ends on the Dead Sea. There are no outlet streams which can make the water flow into the larger seas. With 33.7% salinity, which makes it the world's saltiest bodies of water, the Dead Sea gives a harsh environment in which animals can't flourish. There is no life in the Dead Sea. The same thing will happen to our heart. When we don't give to others, we make our condition of heart grows hard. It makes us becoming more insensitive, uncompassionate, cold, bitter, hollow inside. As time goes by, we can still be alive but not really 'alive'. You know.. it's kind of seeing a person with no spirit that can makes others' day happier because of his/her presence. Just as Robert Frost once said, "There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate."
"You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It s more blessed to give than to receive.'" -Acts 20:34-35 [NIV]
The issue of money is ALWAYS the issue of heart. Our attitude of money is always a good guidance of where are the location of our hearts.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -Luke 12:34 [NIV]
Giving is a way to protect our hearts for not too attach to money and stuffs. It keeps our focus on God. It's an act of faith to God. Knowing that he will always provide.
"Once I was young and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread."
-Psalm 37:25 [NLT]
Now let's get a more complete picture of what Jesus was really saying by reading further Luke 12:13-34. When you read the passage, Jesus gave us a clue that we will have two bank accounts in our lives. The first one is our earthly bank accounts, the second one is our heavenly bank accounts. We can accumulate wealth as many as we can on this earth, but when we don't give, our heavenly account is still zero toward the end of our life. That's what Jesus described as "not rich toward God". We can be rich in front of humans' eyes, but if we don't give, we may be poor in God's eyes. Which one is more important? The opinions of people or the opinion of God? The temporary living on earth or the everlasting living on Heaven?
Then Jesus continued to teach the disciple not to worry. Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (Luke 12:22-26)
This us leads us to a more complete tremendous truth: The issue of MONEY is always the issue of HEART. And the issue of heart is always the issue of TRUST. It's not merely about "having to give because God say so" but it's a matter of trusting God for every aspects of our lives. Do we dare to trust God's goodness that he will never abandon us? He knows what we need. He nurtures the birds and the flowers, and we are much more worth than that! We are God's children. As good parents, we will always try hard to fulfil our children's needs. How much more God will do that for us!
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" -Hebrews 13:5 [ESV]
Are you struggling to buy the property that you want but sees is so unaffordable? Trust God. Do your part in working smart and God will provide for you. Are you struggling to even pay the monthly bills? Trust God. Be content with what you have and give to others in need. Those who care for others will always be taken care by God. Adjust your lifestyle so that the spending will be less than your income. Make a financial plan. But always ... start with be content with what you have now. Do you have plenty of money but finding it's never enough? Trust God. Dedicate your money for Kingdom's work. Give it to people in need.. people who may can't pay you back. Bless those who are in God's field to spread God's words. Bless others generously, then you may find the true happiness you don't feel now.
Give not for to be given back, give with a cheerful heart. You are rich, because you are a giver.
Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won't have to hunt for happiness -William E. Gladstone
A hero is somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people. A hero to me is someone who saves people and who really deeply cares -Debi Mazar
Photos by: The Photography and Benny Lim