Daily Readings: Exodus 19-20, Matthew 25
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” –Matthew 25:40
We have an amazing opportunity to make an impact with our finances. I am always amazed at just how far money is able to go when poured back into non-profits working throughout the world. When I see just how little it takes to provide clean water to a single person for a lifetime, feed someone for an entire year, or provide an education; it blows my mind. There is no shortage of needs that we have the ability to meet locally and abroad!
We are called, as marketplace missionaries, to maximize this impact we are able to have by reinvesting our blessings back into the kingdom by giving to those in need. So often though it is easy to allow the financial burdens of life to pile up to a level where it chokes out our ability to make an impact with the financial blessings we have been given. It is easy to say, “One day I will be in a position to give.”
At times in my life, where I have not been focused on building the Kingdom with my finances, money always seemed tight. It never felt like the right time. However, if you were to go line by line through where I chose to put my money at that time, you would see a $25 per month data plan on my cell phone, cable TV, eating out multiple times a week, lots of random miscellaneous $3-$5 items throughout the month that were purchased in response to a want and not a need, etc.
At a certain point in life my wife and I made the decision that we needed to give first. We needed to trust that God would provide, and if money was short, the things that needed to be cut was not the money that went to helping the poor and building God’s Kingdom.
Earlier in today’s reading, in Matthew 25:14-26, Jesus gave us a compelling story that illustrates how God views the gifts he has given us. This parable applies directly to how we use our finances and also how we use the time and abilities that God has gifted us with to advance his will here on earth.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!’ So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
God has gifted each and every one of us with different abilities. Too often we find ourselves in the trap of comparing ourselves to others and thinking, “Why have they been given five bags of gold?”
God wants us focused on him and his Kingdom. He wants us asking, “How can I maximize these God given abilities? How can I give God, and his mission here on earth for my life, a maximum return on the investment of skills and abilities he has gifted me with? How can I return 2 times, 5 times, 10 times what he has given to me?”
He wants us giving of our time and finances with a joyful heart.
And then when we get to the end of our lives he will be able to greet us with a smile and say, “Well done good and faithful servant… For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me… Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
What an amazing day that will be indeed!
Thought to ponder
Where might God be calling me to be a better steward of my time, skills, or finances so that I can give God a maximum return on his investment in me?