To give is to live

To give is to live

To give is to live

'Honour the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all
your produce; so the barns will be filled with plenty'. Proverbs 3:9-10.

Perhaps it's the same with you, but Christmas is one of
those times we may well start thinking about wealth (or lack of it), especially
when we have pressure put upon us to play the role of Santa. For many of us,
unfortunately Santa's carry bag isn't bulging with bumps this year. For some
of us, even the prospect of shopping at the 2 dollar shop raises insecurities!

There's good news for us all friends. Do not worry.
Christmas is not just about giving presents. Christmas is all about celebrating
the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is our ultimate gift, and the mere
realization of this powerful truth is the greatest present for me. Furthermore,
the communication of this good news to others is by far a greater gift than
anything money could ever buy. Spend some time pondering this concept and you
will find the pressure to give material gifts will suddenly lift and leave you.

Secondly, there is more to give than just mere gifts that
require money. Wealth comes in all sorts of forms. Believe it or not, we all
have a wealth to give from. If only we fully understood the real meaning of
wealth and how it is to be administered!

It is the Lord's desire for us to honour Him from our wealth.
Wealth comes in many forms. Wealth is a result of being prosperous. Being
prosperous means having plentiful barns
. Wealth is the materialization of
prosperity. Perhaps we limit wealth to the realm of what we (and others) can see
and feel. Over and above, true wealth is a sense of satisfaction, and not
necessarily that which we can touch. Jesus said in His sermon on the mount that
'blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' Matt 5.
Blessedness is being wealthy. It is a state of mind and a state of heart. A
prosperous person is someone who has an abundance of things...material,
intellectual, financial, etc. Although having great wealth is normally
associated with financial and material things, it should not only be restricted
to them. If we were to have a wealth of sporting talent, then it is our duty as
believers to honour the Lord from that wealth base. This means that we must use
all those physical talents to glorify God in Jesus' name. If we can only tap
into the true meaning of wealth, we would stop striving for material things and
debt, and spend more time and effort honouring God with what we have.

Blessedness means to be truly satisfied - knowing that Jesus
is enough for us. The modern world is continually indoctrinating us with
temptations to spend more time and money on ourselves. The market economy feeds
number one, 'me'. There can be no satisfaction found in self-gratification,
because our true ego is insatiable. We will always need more. The market economy
is the 'want economy' - a wanting for endless commodities and symbols of power.
It is based on buying and selling for gain. The best deals are cut to benefit
one person...me. I win, you lose. Gain first, give second.

On the other hand, God's economy is a giving economy.
The true success of a good deal in God's economy is based in our ability to be
able to give - lots!. In such deals, we lose personally, because we give first.
There is much honour in self-loss, because it means that the best interests of
our fellows are always at hand. The poor in spirit have dealt with ego and
pride, knowing that to lose is to gain.

Honouring the Lord from our wealth requires us to first take
count of our possessions. Being accountable for all that we have will ensure
that everything God has passed into our hands is utilized for His glory. We are
to know that all that we have comes from God...and He can take it all away at
any stage. We must not be fearful of this ever happening though, for our best
interests are always at the fore of His mind. The Lord will not lead us to the
edge of a cliff and let us fall to our death...He will either catch us or
gradually let us down!

To Give is to Gain

We must honour the Lord from our wealth using the wisdom
provided to us by Him. We are all wealthy to a certain extent...spiritually,
financially, materially, emotionally or intellectually. It is not so much
what we have
, but what we do with whatever we have. The first of our produce
is to be allocated to the Lord's work, or assisting others in Jesus' name.
Failure to abide by this rule will result in material poverty and moral
despondency. God's promise is clear: to give is to gain. To lose is to win.
Decrease results in increase. We must first act to give, then we will gain. But
we must not give in order to gain, as the Lord knows our hearts. Give with the
primary intention of honouring the Lord from our wealth. Set up a platform to
operate from by realizing that God does not need our wealth to be given
honour...He needs us. He does not need our riches but our very beings...our
thoughts, intentions, our plans, our desires, our time and our needs. Nothing
pleases God more than to see His child cheerfully giving in His name.

Most of us are poor materially because we do not follow this
simple rule of giving. What we own and how we feel about it has a direct
correlation to how much we give. We have failed to please God by spending money
and time on ourselves and not on His purposes. What we fail to realize is that
when we rip off God, we are really ripping off ourselves. No wonder our barns
are not filled with plenty...we do not give from our wealth.

Give from your wealth. Don't be like the others who say
they are waiting to give their first million...give your first $1 instead.
Learn how to give small amounts, then you will be able to give big amounts.

Remember, its not so much the amounts that you give, but that you are actually
giving. Start the habit today, not tomorrow.

Live to give, and program your financial system to
incorporate a process of accounting for your increase, and then give from that
basis. It is our responsibility to calculate the value of our increase. This is
the first of your produce. If your bills are too high for you to give...if you
have too much debt, then you have over-committed yourself, limiting your ability
to honour God from your wealth. By being over-committed, we are not able to give
God the first of our produce because there is none. Be careful that God is not
mocked...He knows our hearts. Strive not to seek after wealth, but to
structure our lives to honour God. Although it is not everyone's destiny to
become wealthy in great financial and material proportions, it is our
responsibly to give.

So give and live.

AMEN & AMEN (editors note)