Let me ask you a question: If someone offered you a million dollars, would you take it? Are you serious? Yep. Of course I’d take it; why wouldn’t I? Well, what would you use it for? I don’t know but I’d find something. One more question: If someone offered you a million pounds of roofing nails, would you take them? Probably not. Why not? I don’t need them, and besides, where would I store them. OK, do you need a million dollars? Well, no, but I think could find a use for it; why do you ask so many stupid questions?
Someone has said that wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. Similarly Socrates is supposed to have said something to the effect that poverty does not consist in the decrease of one’s possessions, but in the increase of one’s greed. Thus it would seem that the best insurance against poverty (and greediness) is to minimize our wants, because it’s human nature to keep wanting more and the more you have, the more you want.
I am not trying to minimize poverty, especially the two-thirds-world kind, but here in America possessions do funny things to us. When we have the basics (shelter, food, clothes, job), we are fairly happy, although we do worry about dealing with emergency situations like getting sick or going to the dentist. However; when our wealth increases, we tend to enjoy our new found status and security for a few months. Then something happens; we get used to having more (the new normal) and any downward deviation makes us feel “poor.” Not only that, but we look around at others (usually not those poorer, but those wealthier) and grow dissatisfied with what we have because our wants have increased. When we get more, we want more. When we want more, it is never quite enough. “Just a little bit more, and then I’ll be happy,” our inner voice says.
Tucked away in Proverbs 30 is a very insightful section (v.7-16) in relationship to money and possessions. The writer prays that God would keep him from two things: “Remove from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty or riches, [but] feed me with the food that is needful for me… lest I be full and deny you…lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Perhaps it was this section of Proverbs that influenced Paul to write “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Phil 4:11) Then the writer of Proverbs goes on to say, “The leech has two daughters; Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, ‘Enough’; Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, ‘Enough.’”
Paul learned to be content because whether he was facing want or plenty he was able to say, “Enough.” He learned the secret of contentment because he knew that he “could do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) If anyone had offered Paul a million bucks, I think he would have said, “No, thank you. I have enough.”
Over the next two Sundays, we have challenged the folks in our church to pick one of those Sundays to tithe a portion of their pay for that week or two-week period. We have committed ourselves to raise $25,000 worth of food for Children’s Hunger Fund that we will pack into 2000 boxes as a part of our worship service on March 2. It is also our desire to develop a team of people who will deliver this food over the next several months to folks in our community who are in need, thereby building a relationship with them.
When I tithe, I acknowledge that whatever I have (including what I do not give) belongs to the Lord. Additionally, tithing puts a gun to my greed and allows me to draw a line in the sand and say, “Enough, Lord, I have enough; I trust you for my needs and ask you to muzzle my wants so that others may experience your generosity though me.”