His or mine?

All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
Acts of the Apostles 4:32 NLT

Imagine a body of believers united in heart and mind,  dedicated to each other, not considering anything their own but God’s – sharing without a second thought when another is in need.

So what is the problem? What are our excuses?

“There are programs to help ‘those people’.” – We separate ourselves.

“They are just going to use me.” – We don’t see the opportunity to be loving, sacrificial and undeserved love offered regardless of the response or resulting choice of another – just like Christ on the cross for us.

“They are asking for things that aren’t needs but are wants.” – But Christ said if we have two coats and someone asked for ours, we should give it to them. He did not lay out a list of prequalifiers, he offered us guidance in showing love and letting go off the things of this world.

“If I give to everyone who asks, I will be in poverty and not able to support my family.” – Didn’t the Lord promise that He would meet our needs? But He didn’t say he would meet our “greeds”. If you have much, then yes,  you should be humbled by the needs of others and it should push you into action. Do not let your desire for comfort in worldly things harden your heart against the plight of the hurting and the needy.

The Bible doesn’t say that the goal of a Christian is to be prosperous and wealthy and protected from trials and struggles and challenges. Paul tells us that he learned to be content in all circumstances. So does this mean a vow of poverty for all Christians? Like the disciples response when Christ told them it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of God – do we ask, “But how can anyone get in?” Instead of examining our hearts and our motives and being both humbled and motivated to responsible action.

You see, Christ’s response was not to tell them they had to live homeless and impoverished – that would have been a letter of the law measurement of outward appearance that has nothing to do with the state of someone’s heart and desires. But He tells us, that with God, all things are possible.

If you’re looking for an easy checklist of rules for your life, you might not yet be ready to answer the call of Christ. If you’re looking for a way to earn payment for the things you do, you might not yet have your eyes set on the only prize worth having.

But if you’re looking for a change of your heart, your desires – and a life of trial,  struggle,  and persecution as you get a chance to prove your dedication to a Lord and Savior who has already given you the most valuable prize, a born again life with Christ alive in you,  guiding and teaching you and reconciling you to be more like Him – I welcome you to the family,  brother or sister. Let’s walk together in unity of heart and mind and share all things together as one.

Do you need some guard rails to guide you as you find your way,  and until your spiritual discernment is equipped to handle such needs and requests?

I encourage you to consider these,  but not use them as prequalifiers – just as wise guidance:

1) Do you have a budget? If not, make one and stick to it. Including tithing and offerings to the needy as your first line item, acknowledging that it all is His and you are simply giving back part as an act of bringing Him glory and honor.

2) Are you in debt? Make a focused effort getting yourself out of debt so that the resources in your care are not being ways on interest and fees that feed the wealthy financial system instead of going to help spread the gospel and meet the needs of your family, your body of believers,  and the needy.

3) Identify your needs versus your wants,  and clearly define these in your budget. Does your budget tread frequently into the areas of comfort and pleasure and financial security – but rarely into the areas of helping and serving the needs of others? If so, I encourage you to have an on your knees meeting with God to examine where your desires need to be corrected and changed.

4) Do not use your budget as the be all, end all excuse for not helping others. It isn’t about falling into legalism,  it is about obedience and mercy both working together. If there is a genuine need and you can help, then help,  and trust the Lord to honor your faithfulness. But if it is a want,  then I encourage you to use wise discernment and remain within the will of God.

You are a steward of the resources entrusted to you, not just so that you can enjoy prosperity and a life of ease,  but that your life might bring Him honor and glory. When you pull out that cash, card, or check to spend – ask yourself, how is this going to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ,  my Lord and Savior. If your response is,  but that is making me a slave, not free! I ask you,  who do you want to be free from? God or sin? Who do you want to serve? God or yourself?

And as we remember Him in our being a steward of the financial resources entrusted to us, we should also learn to be good stewards of our time in the same way.

When we are facing eternity at judgement, do we want to look back over a frat boy lifestyle of self service with the resources entrusted to us, having spent it all frivolous on ourselves and on the things and pleasures of this world? Or do we want to be able to be able to say, “Lord, nothing I did could ever be good enough to deserve the grace you have extended, but my hope is that I bound my own desires, and let you receive honor and glory through my life, as it bore the fruit of your Holy Spirit, that I offer as a living sacrifice to you.”

Don’t think that I have this nailed and perfected. It is a hard lesson, but it is well worth it. This lesson has changed our lives and taken us to heights that we never knew before – in peace about our finances,  but more importantly in the joy of being obedient to God and merciful to those in need.

Don’t waste your life.
Don’t waste His resources.
Don’t miss out on the true blessings and eternal treasures.

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