Saturday, September 1, 2012

Less is More

 

He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” – Proverbs 28:27

I’ve been bombarded lately with the expensive gifts that some of us choose to give ourselves.  I’ve also been bombarded with the simple need of so many.  It’s a contrast that only God could deliver.  Here are some examples:
A Coca-Cola Hot Dog Grill for a man cave - complete with glass bottled Coca-Cola: $30,000 (Pawn Stars)
A Deep Water well in Africa to bring water to a drought stricken village: $13,700 (WorldVision.Org)

Cost of a sushi meal at Masa, New York City: $1,269 (Shine, Yahoo)
Cost to feed a family in the US for a day: $16 (WorldVision.Org)

Cost of Kim Kardashian’s Kanye West de Zanotti Pearl Embroidered Sandals: $5810 (Shoerazzi.com)
Cost of providing shoes for a child that has none: Nothing but the shoes in your closet (soles4souls.org)

Wealth is a funny thing.  It’s like the carrot dangled in front of the horse.  The horse will do anything to get the carrot, walking miles and miles without thought of what it’s carrying on its back.  When it gets tired, give it just a nibble of the carrot, and it will walk many more miles to just get another nibble.  Wealth is that carrot for a lot of folks, dangling a desire for more and more and more of stuff that will one day end up in a landfill. 

I recently heard Joyce Meyers give this advice: Drive by a landfill one day and stop and take a good look at all that is there.  The rusted cars, the broken and rotting furniture, the shoes piled high - all of these were things that someone once gave their time to earn.  They sacrificed family time, free time, and even worship time to earn them.  And now they sit in a landfill long after that life is gone. 

The American dream has become our illness.  The majority of us live in a land of want where there is no need.  Then there are those that are in need and have real want that we just neglect.  Make no mistake.  God does not take our actions of neglect lightly.  Nor does He overlook our selfish stewardship of the funds He places in our hands.  Likewise, He does not overlook those who give freely.

It all comes down to this: Who do you want to live for?  If you want to live to impress God, you won’t need the 2013 model of the SUV or sports car your friends want, because God doesn’t care if you drive an old beat-up car.  He’s more concerned about how you use it.  But if you want to live for the respect of those around you who value wealth above eternal good, you’d better rush out and buy that 2013 model before anyone else does! 

God gives more to those who give than to those who don’t.  Surprised?  Don’t be – it is in the Bible.  2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” We often hear the “God loves a cheerful giver” in conversations on tithing to our local churches.  But it’s more than that. 

Giving from God’s perspective isn’t just within the walls of the local church.  It’s giving to each other – finding a need and filling it.  And yes, He will funnel more to us so that we can continue that work.  He will “sow bountifully” to those that He can trust to reap it and redistribute it.

Today is Saturday.  Almost religiously for me and others, this is the shopping day of the week.  Many of the stores we will enter have a long legacy of being those that have reaped from God’s bounty and redistributed, and that is why they are still successful.  Yet we don’t know that their fortune came from their steadfast stewardship of what God gave. 

Appropriately named, James Cash Penney was the original owner of JC Penney’s department stores.  In 1898 he was running a chain of stores called The Golden Rule stores. He was noticed by an investor that he was a hard worker and was offered a 1/3 ownership in a set of stores that would open.  The investment cost him $2,000 in 1898.  He expanded the stores to many states and by 1924 he was a millionaire and owner of JC Penney Company.  Loving money first, he began to buy other things: 120,000 acres of Clay County, Florida, houses, stocks, bonds, and even a dairy called Penney Farms.  The wealth was not being redistributed. 

When the stock market fell in 1929, he checked himself into a sanitarium.  While there, he heard a song called “God Will Take Care of You” and became a born again Christian.  Although he had been raised in a Christian home, as his father was a Baptist minister, God had to remove wealth from him to receive his attention.  He went on to fund many charitable organizations after that, including what we now know as the Penney Family Fund. And, he was also known as an adamant tither in his local church.

In 1940, he also employed and mentored another successful young man named Sam Walton.  Sam started out with one Ben Franklin store, then a chain of “5 and Dime” stores, and went on to become owner of Wal-Mart Corporation.  But before his wealth, he was also a Sunday School teacher at his Presbyterian Church, and actively involved in Little League Teams and other civic groups in his home town.  He began giving long before Wal-Mart was formed.  Although Sam believed in giving back to his employees through stock ownership programs and other means, his wife was the one that pushed him to do more.  In 1985 he donated $3.6 million for scholarships to the University of Arkansas.  Sam was open about saying he didn’t want Wal-Mart to be known as a charitable organization, but believed in giving back to its customers and its employees who were responsible for its success.  He didn’t build up – he redistributed.

Those are just two success stories out of hundreds.  If you’re interested in more, go online and read about Bill Gates giving for Education or John Geisse, the original Target Stores owner and the Geisse Foundation.  You may find it interesting that Sam Walton one employed John Geisse as a consultant, and founded Sam’s Club based on John’s advice.

If God loves a cheerful giver, wouldn’t cheerful giving be something rewarding to us in more ways than wealth? 

Doesn’t God look to prosper us and provide for us a future (Jeremiah 29:11)? 

Could it be that our lack of giving is the bottleneck on our earnings potential (Malachi 3:10)?

The next time you’re feeling like you just can’t get enough, you need more-more-more, stop.  GIVE.  It’s like the old fashioned blood lettings that would cure diseases by cutting a small incision and letting the person bleed.  Sometimes holding on to MORE is worse.  Sometimes happiness comes from LESS.  Solomon in all his wisdom understood this when he wrote in Proverbs 28:27, He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.”

God Will Take Care of You, by Civilla D. Martin (1904)

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.


Refrain:
God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.

All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.

No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.

 

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