At the beginning of January, with the start of 2014 underway, I began reading classic success literature and self-help books that specialized in the areas a personal growth and finance. After speed reading the typical motivational authors, it quickly became apparent to me that the techniques of becoming rich quick through multilevel marketing schemes, sly salesmanship techniques, and becoming a millionaire overnight, were the perceived values of that popular genre. While I am a student of personal develop and study the practices of goal setting strategies and time management methods, through this reading, I was reminded how being rich as defined by the world’s standard, is vastly different than that described in God’s Kingdom.
This revelation brought me back to with wisdom of Proverbs and other biblical stewardship books on financial management as found in the writings from authors like Dave Ramsey, Ron Blue and Larry Burkett. Then I found this new title from Andy Stanley, “How to Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do With What You Have” (2013). In this short book, one of my favorite communicators stresses that being rich is not so much about all the possessions we own, but rather richness is found in the one who possess us, and after all, God owns it all anyway.
“How to Be Rich” is broken down into seven chapters that can be easily digested in the reading of a couple pages each day and over a week. Topics covered include the disease of consumption assumption, how to plan ahead for giving effectiveness, what to do to get a greater gain, and the aspects of a spiritual “ROI” -or return on investment.
I was so inspired by my reading of the book that I actually went online and watched the four sermons delivered in this message series through North Point Ministries. One of the exciting things I learned through the exposure of this material is that near the end of each year North Point takes up a special offering to partner with extraordinary nonprofits, both globally and locally, to maximize their ministry effectiveness through their giving of financial support and the offering of time and hard work from church congregants.
This is a similar to a year-end effort that my own church takes a part in. Though we call it “Genero-City”, the concept to partner with specific care ministries remains the same. At Pathway, we give to a variety of organizations in our local community ranging from partnering with a crisis pregnancy center, to working alongside a men’s homeless and recovery shelter, and continually supplying donations for a local food bank.
The thesis for Stanley’s book comes straight from Scripture. In 1 Timothy 6:18, The Apostle Paul writes “Command them to do good to BE RICH in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” After helping us understand that the majority of Americans are indeed rich, (that is compared to global standards) Stanley does a nice job up unpacking the biblical practices of charity, as well as instructing readers in the historical and encouraging insights of the words of Christian leaders like Jesus and John Wesley. The author goes on to support his claims by incorporating modern reports from the contemporary magazines Money and news facts from CNBC where appropriate statistics on world poverty emphasis his point.
Some of my favorite idea expressed, include Stanley’s reminder that our commandment of stewardship should yield first and foremost a biblical responsibility to care for the poor rather than to incite a feeling of guilt, that instead of trusting in our riches we should trust in Him who richly provides, and that praying to God for the things we need and placing our hope in Him, is a better outlook for life and hoarding items in an attempt to enlarge our material wealth. Also, covered in the book is the issue of proportionate or percentage giving that charity should be a lifestyle, not just a budget item.
When we remember just how much God gave out of His love for us, we should be spurred on to give to others likewise.