A relationship with Christ changes our perspective on all things, including how we use our treasure. Before Christ came into my life, I had one view of money—it was meant to be used for my own personal pleasure. My view was distorted. Everything I thought was important was diametrically opposed to the things of God. I needed the perspective of eternity.
I love the story of Zacchaeus in the New Testament. In Luke 19 we read, “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So [Zacchaeus] hurried and came down and received him joyfully” (Luke 19:5–6, ESV).
Zacchaeus was a “money guy” who was hated by his own people because he was a tax collector for the notorious Roman government. He was a self-starter, and he really did not care what other people thought of him. But here we find him wanting to see Jesus! He found a tree that would put him above the crowd and he waited. When Jesus called him, he responded immediately.
In verse 8 we read the rest of the story: “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold’” (ESV). The life of Zacchaeus was changed! His encounter with Jesus transformed the view he had of his wealth and of his fellow man. The Spirit enlightened his heart and moved him to follow through with his new insight. By giving away a large portion of his personal wealth he became a strategic kingdom investor. He finally understood that his money was to be used for the advancement of God’s kingdom, not his own, and he responded! When his perspective changed, so did his behavior. Are you using your material blessings to bless other people?
Over the years I have learned to be a strategic kingdom investor. This means that I am increasingly careful where I invest funds for the expansion of the kingdom. I strategically plan and choose where my kingdom treasure is to be invested.
Here are a few general questions to ask as you consider investing your money or other material resources in a ministry or organization:
- Does this organization exalt Jesus Christ above all else?
- Does this ministry have a record of spiritual fruitfulness?
- Does this organization seek to use perishable means to accomplish imperishable results?
- Does this ministry exhibit documented financial accountability and transparency?
- Do you trust the people involved in this ministry to conscientiously use the resources you are entrusting to them?
Each person has a different financial situation. In many parts of the world people have very little in the way of financial resources. It is important for all of us to remember that God loves the cheerful giver. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 we read, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (ESV). God is more interested in the attitude we have about our giving than in the amount we give. All that we have has been given to us by God. Are we joyfully allowing him to use it to bless those around us?
My goal is to be a grace giver, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Grace-giving is the result of a God-given and God-driven desire to give following three basic principles: he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully, what is reasonable to give to a particular project considering your current life circumstances, and how much can be given to this project cheerfully?
In Luke 21:1–4 (and in Mark 12:41–44) we read about the poor widow who “out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (NIV) as a freewill offering into the temple treasury, which amounted to two small copper coins. This was all that she had and yet she sowed it bountifully. Hers was a gift of sacrifice; nevertheless, she gave it generously and sacrificially. The value of what we give to God’s work is not determined by its amount, but by the spirit in which we give it. God will surely bless whatever we give to him with a heart of gratitude, generosity, and expectancy that he will use it to further his kingdom.
When it comes to giving I often use the acronym GIVE to remind me of the important principles that need to guide my giving:
G Grace-giving is the result of my God-given, God-driven
desire to give.
I I desire to give because my giving is a major gateway
for God to work in my life.
V Victory over self; my desire to invest in the
imperishable trumps my desire to invest in the
E Eyes are fixed on the unseen and eternal rewards.
Before my one-hundred-year-old aunt died, she shared with me a saying she had learned in the first grade: “A habit is like a cable. We weave it one strand each day until it becomes so strong, it cannot be broken.” I told her I really liked that saying, and that I would change the word “habit” to the word “faith” making the saying, “Faith is like a cable. We weave it one strand each day until it becomes so strong, it cannot be broken.” However, I think this saying can also have the word “habit” replaced by the word “giving,” making it, “Giving is like a cable. We weave it one strand each day until it becomes so strong, it cannot be broken.” We need to weave our giving into the fabric of our lives to the point that our practice of giving cannot be broken.
In what ways are you currently using whatever earthly treasure you have to accomplish things of eternal consequence?