The next few blogs are excerpts from a study I wrote a few years ago on financial stewardship. This was a study initially written for youth, but is relevant to all Christians. I am hoping this first blog will help us reorient our lives on Christ as we see the big picture of eternity. When this happens, we can begin to have a renewed perspective on money. A perspective that is eternal, healthy, and gospel-centered. In the posts following this one, I will answer two questions:
1. Why should I give?
2. How should I give?
My Next Door Neighbor
As a fan of the 90s television show Seinfeld, when I think of a next door neighbor I think of Kramer. Kramer was always coming over to his neighbor Jerry’s apartment for anything he could get from him. Without asking, he would eat his food, watch his TV, use his table, his shaving cream or anything else he could find. When Jerry was at home, Kramer was always just a door away and would visit frequently. Kramer was the type of neighbor who did not have to be invited in order to visit Jerry’s apartment. There was never a time when Kramer was not expected to make an appearance at Jerry’s apartment. Even when Jerry did not want Kramer at his apartment, he would often come anyway because he had his own key.
Similarly, death is like Kramer. He can come at any time. There is not a day when death cannot take us. Death does not have to be invited in order to come over because he has his own key. Death is just one door over from your apartment, but unlike the way Jerry treats Kramer, you don’t even acknowledge death as your neighbor. You walk past his door everyday but never think this will be the day he will visit. You think if you ignore him long enough he will just move away. But in reality, he has not leased the apartment next to yours, he has bought it. Because of this, you know he’s not moving, so you better be prepared to meet him.
Consider this parable that Jesus taught in Luke 12:
“And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.’”
In this parable, Jesus tells a story of a farmer who is very wealthy and uses all of his wealth for himself. He sees success, satisfaction, and total security in everything he has acquired. He figures there is nothing more to life than to take care of himself and relax, eat, drink, and be merry. But like many of us, this man has false hope and security in his wealth. He is also very selfish with his wealth due to the false hope and security it brings him.
No Security in Wealth
When it’s time to die, wealth will not keep us alive. There is no security in wealth or any material thing in this world. The only security we have is in Jesus Christ, and tragically, this man did not profess faith in him. Author and Pastor Warren Weirsbe writes about this man, “The man lived without God and died without God, and his wealth was but an incident in his life. God is not impressed with our money.”
When my sister died at the young age of 18, I realized that I was not bulletproof anymore. We all live with a false sense of security until that imaginary rug gets ripped from underneath us. We think, “Death is what happens to other people’s family members, not mine.” And we certainly do not believe anything bad could ever happen to ourselves. When we believe this nonsense it is easy to give more value to our money than it deserves. Without an eternal perspective on life, we will become like the farmer, becoming overly concerned with riches we can attain while on earth. What a sad existence it must be to live as if this earth and our time spent here is all there is.
So snap into reality. With death as your next door neighbor, the only way we can be prepared to meet him is not by obtaining wealth. The only way to be prepared is to have already met the Conqueror beforehand. And good news, Jesus has conquered death long ago.
We will continue tomorrow answering the question: “Why should I give?”