Being Rich

 

When I first started teaching at the collegiate level one of the things that dismayed me was the number of students that choose business as their major because they “wanted to make money.” Although I think it’s perfectly fine to make a living, and even to excel at earning an income, there are numerous lives that can bear witness to the fact that if this is your primary objective, your life will be relatively empty. Combined this with the fact that many of the students professed to be Christians, I couldn’t understand why the pursuit of riches would be at the forefront of their minds.

However, this is not a thought that is unique to these students. Many young people are consumed with the process of earning enough to be “comfortable” in life. Older people are often pursuing the same goal, albeit with a little more cynicism and wariness than their younger counterparts. There is a reason that get-rich scams are so often successful – despite the Bible’s clear warning to the contrary – people love money and are quick to seek after it.

While the Bible teaches us that the an affection for cash will lead to poor choices (I Timothy 6:10), it does command us to be rich – just not in money. Instead we are to wealthy in generosity (I Timothy 6:18).  Normally we equate the idea of richness with an individual whose accounts are full, whose life is marked by abundance, and whose opportunities are plentiful. We might think of someone who is rich in generosity in the same way.

  • Full Accounts – Being rich in generosity means that you give in a variety of ways. All of your “giving accounts” – time, skills, money, and energy –  are regularly used to bless others. When there is a need, you have significant balances to pull from – and you are willing to use whatever is at your disposal to disperse to someone else the kindness that God has shown you. Instead of putting deposits in the bank, you are making deposits in people’s lives, often at your own expense.

 

  • Marked by Abundance – Someone who is rich in generosity will give frequently and sacrificially. When it costs you, you give. When it means that you have to forego your own desires, you give. When you know that you might not get commended or appreciated, still you give. And even when you don’t have a lot, from whatever you do have, you give.

 

  • Plentiful Opportunities – Just like people who are monetarily wealthy seem to have lots of opportunities, people who are rich in generosity seem to constantly have opportunities to give. However, opportunities to spend money come to those who are conventionally wealthy; those who are rich in generosity seek out opportunities to give. You do not wait for the need to be on you doorstep; you are actively looking for how you may use what God has given you to bless someone else

From a human perspective the desire to be rich can be readily understood. Life seems easier for those who have a lot of cash. Yet the Christian is not called to an easy life, but instead to a life that pleases God. And when we cheerfully give, this gives God pleasure.

 

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Don’t Waste Mistakes

 

In the business world it has become popular to talk about the need for failure. While it is true that most people don’t succeed in their first attempt, the drive to normalize failure seems to have turned into a celebration of it.  Innovation doesn’t flourish when people feel like defeat is permanent. However it one thing to recognize that losses can be regained; it is another thing entirely to not care whether you win or lose to begin with.

I was thinking about this recently after a chat with one of my kids. A mistake had been made, the apologies were profuse, and forgiveness abundant. However as I consoled the offender, I never said it was o.k. Because it wasn’t. A violation of Scripture had occurred and I never want to give my children the impression that this is o.k.  We accept that they will occur, but our goal is always that they won’t.

And I think that’s an important distinction. We should recognize that we are sinful creatures and that, this side of Heaven, we are going to continue to sin. But we should also acknowledge that God’s desire is for His children to be increasingly more like His Son. Just like I think it’s wrong for consultants to talk like all businesses should “fail forward,” we shouldn’t get to a place where we are o.k. with sin because we recognize that God, in His graciousness, can even use evil to produce good.  As children who love our Heavenly Father our desire should be to please Him. And part of what that means is that we consistently aim to do what He says, even while recognizing that we won’t always do so.

In other words, don’t waste the mistakes you’ll make. Learn from them, grow from them, and let them fuel your desire to do better. But let’s make sure our heart’s cry is that we won’t make them in the first place.

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