I’ve been thinking about money lately. Mostly in the big picture, ‘what will it matter in the long run if I die with lots of money or not’ perspective, and I find that the way I was raised to view money has made me into a person who doesn’t care about wealth.
But I want to die rich.
I was a preacher’s kid, when a pastor’s salary often needed to be supplemented with a part time job, or picking up extra income from performing weddings and funerals and preaching revival meetings.
As one of four kids, I not only did chores with no expectation of an allowance, I was expected to work in a fruit and vegetable stand where we sold produce from a farmer friend of the family. Those years brought out parts of my personality that still serve me well. I found I have an affinity for numbers and handling money, an attention to the details of division of labor, a desire to tithe off the top before paying ourselves, and enjoyment of the rewards of hard work.
My first job with a regular paycheck was as a salad girl and then a waitress at a local restaurant, one of a dozen jobs I held over the next few years. They all blur together, none of them with much potential for a future career. But they did teach me important lessons that still ring true.
Money is something you get in return for doing work worth paying for. You then turn around and pay for things you think are worth having. And for many of us, that means stretching the funds available to meet the needs. For others, there is plenty for needs and generous amounts for wants as well.
So back to my original thoughts about whether it makes any real, lasting difference if a person has lots of money accumulated during their life, or if they leave this world holding in their fist the same amount they had in it when they were born.
In my life as a wife and mom, there have been many times when those old skills learned at the fruit and vegetable stand have helped me make sure every hand held out demanding payment gets satisfied. Work would get done, money would come in, and stomachs would need feeding, bodies would need clothing and shelter.
Money has served a purpose.
One thing it hasn’t done for me is create wealth. In fact, it has very little to do with whether I feel rich or poor, that balance in my bank account.
I’ve been listening to Sharathon on YES-FM that is going on these first two weeks of May, and some of the deejays were talking about scriptures that encourage us to be cheerful and generous givers. I’ve heard these familiar passages many times, and I know the truth of them.
In my life I have felt called to give beyond what any practical person looking at the dollars in my pockets would think was reasonable. And I’ll admit that when you read in the Bible about reaping what you sow it’s easy to think that could mean that if you are generous in giving money to good causes that spread God’s truth to others, God will be more generous in pouring out more money to you.
But giving back to God isn’t a get rich quick scheme. Or it shouldn’t be.
What struck me as I was driving around praying for Sharathon to bring in the money YES-FM needs to run for the next six months, was that this ministry and the money I have felt called to give to it over the past nearly twenty-seven years have blessed me with so much more than just more money.
I have learned what it means to be a cheerful giver. I often ask God to tell me a specific amount to give, and sometimes he does, but of course he isn’t required to grant my wish to know this for sure. What he does give me is such a love for the music and the people involved with this radio station that I always want to give more. And it’s always done cheerfully!
Wouldn’t it be great if every thing I did, every act of service, every moment spent listening to another’s problems, every detour from my agenda, could be an offering given back with happiness in my heart for the opportunity to pour out to others what God has given to me?
Because that’s what I think is happening.
I realize that in these many years of supporting YES-FM I have gotten far more out of it than I could ever repay.
Luke 6:38 Amplified Bible (AMP)
38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.”
It struck me today, after all these years, that so many times I use the wrong standard of measurement. Even though God made everything, owns everything, is the only one who can claim ownership of anything in this world, he generously pours it out on me day after day.
And I forget to count it.
My bank account may not reflect it, but the often radical, hysterical giving God calls me to do has been outgiven many times over. It is measured in ways I can’t detail as amounts in a ledger, as an exchange for work done. It goes way beyond anything I have earned or deserve.
And it makes me want to turn around and give it all back to God, again and again.
It has made me rich in ways I never knew I could be.