Most of us have mastered the first of these steps or at least we’re attempting to master it. We want to earn as much as we can. I know when I was earning $4.00/hour, if I could find a job that would pay me $4.50 I would have jumped at it. Rightly or wrongly, I wanted to make all I can.
Many more of us have tried to get to step two, but we seem to have failed. A CBC news story this week spoke about the increasing debt that Canadians are incurring. According to the story more than half a million Canadians are more than 3 months behind on their credit payments. All together, Canadians have a combined national household debt of 1.3 trillion dollars. It doesn’t seem like we’re succeeding in the “save all you can” department.
With so much debt, it is no wonder that we are having an even harder time with the third step; “giving all we can”. We have bought ourselves into debt and can no longer afford to give. There is nothing to give.
How did we get here and perhaps more importantly, how can we get out?
Getting into debt is very easy. There are many opportunities to borrow money. There are increasing advertisements suggesting you should have whatever you want, whenever you want, and you don’t worry about it until 2012. We see others with something nice and we figure we should have it too. Furthermore, we figure, that as long as we’re doing our part in the offering, we can do whatever we want with the balance of our money. After all, it’s “ours”. We earned it.
The reality is we need a totally different understanding of money. We may have earned it, but it’s not “ours”. Yes, the pay check we get has our name on it. And the bank figures it belongs to us. But the Biblical perspective is quite different; it comes from God and belongs to God. We are the stewards of it. In other words, even though we give 10% to the church, the balance isn’t ours to do whatever we please. The balance also belongs to the Lord and we need to consult Him in it’s use.
Biblically God blesses people so that they can be a blessing to others. Yet, most of the time, when we get blessed (financially) we use it for ourselves. On the contrary, as John Wesley taught (and practiced) we earn and save all we can, not so we can “have it all” but so we can have more to give.
According to our church Manual, “The Church of the Nazarene believes that Jesus commanded His disciples to have a special relationship to the poor of the world; that Christ’s Church ought, first, to keep itself simple and free from an emphasis on wealth and extravagance and, second, to give itself to the care, feeding, clothing, and shelter of the poor. Throughout the Bible and in the life and example of Jesus, God identifies with and assists the poor, the oppressed, and those in society who cannot speak for themselves. In the same way, we, too, are called to identify with and to enter into solidarity with the poor and not simply to offer charity from positions of comfort” [Church of the Nazarene Manual, 903.4].
These are our roots; and good roots they are! They are taught in the Scriptures. As we prosper we must guard ourselves from drawing away from these roots.
The next time you get a bonus or some extra funds, instead of automatically thinking about how you can use that for yourself, take a moment and ask yourself is there is someone who you can bless with at least a portion of your blessing.