Self-reliance and Giving
A comedian once said, “I have enough money to last me the rest of my life…unless I buy something.” That probably about sums up the level of financial security that most of us have. I have a friend who is a leader in an independent Christian ministry that seems to perpetually struggle to raise enough funds to operate. It seems that every time we discuss the struggles of that organization he ends up saying, “I just believe that it is God’s will that we always have to fight for every penny in order to survive in this ministry. I believe that this is God’s way of keeping us on our knees in dependence upon Him.” When he makes statements like that I’m always left a bit speechless. What he’s saying may very well be a true interpretation of God’s will, but it is always possible that the ministry is struggling due to unwise decisions, wrong priorities, or “sin in the camp”. I would never say that every church, family, or individual that is living in poverty is more spiritual than those who live in prosperity. I know of many individuals and Christian groups that live in both physical and spiritual prosperity. But I never argue with this brother, because he is more likely to be right than he is to be wrong.
The key issue is dependence. Because of our sinful, self-reliant natures we are so quick to jump off of Christ as our Rock and Foundation onto the shifting sands of bank accounts, stock portfolios, material possessions, and career plans. From the Lord’s eternal perspective we look so foolish, and yet we do it over and over again. Every time the Lord puts some kind of blessing in our lap we grasp onto it for security instead of continuing to trust in the Giver. So, as an act of fatherly discipline, the Lord slows His flow of blessings to a trickle so that we will remain dependent upon Him.
The sad part of all this is that our selfishness prevents the Lord from putting more resources in our hands for the good of His kingdom. 2 Corinthians 8:6-11 tells us that the Lord is looking for mature believers who will be open conduits for His blessings to reach others: “…God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” When we grasp onto the Lord’s resources for our own pleasure and security we clog the system of blessing distribution, to the detriment of both ourselves and the Kingdom of God.
This world is a very insecure place. May we be a light to the world by the way in which we stand confidently upon the Rock and Cornerstone, Jesus Christ in this time of fear and uncertainty, and by the way that we generously give of the Lord’s resources.