One of the most frustrating types of stories, for “commoners” like me is when I read about our sporting royalty who signed multi-million dollar contracts – more than I would make in two lifetimes – who have tales of woe because they are broke not long after their career is over. Millions of dollars and they are out on the street because they squandered it all. On the other hand, there are former players like Warrick Dunn. He played for Tampa Bay and Atlanta and was a rookie of the year and 3-time All-Pro Selection. During his playing days, he established a charity that provides homes for single mothers. Over 100 single mothers and their children have been helped by that charity.
Money, for many people, is a means of “keeping score.” We compare contracts of professional sports stars to see which is worth more. Do they “live up” to their contracts when they play? The stars themselves use it to establish their worth. I’m sure that something similar happened during Jesus’ days on earth. Money was seen as God’s blessing and people looked at how much someone had to measure their relationship with God. This rich guy came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life – probably expecting Jesus to affirm him with a “Hey! You’re good!” Jesus first pointed to commandments. The rich guy pulled out his checklist and showed Jesus he was fine. Then, Jesus responded. “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.” (Luke 18:22-23)
Devastated. What did Jesus mean by telling this rich guy to sell all that he had and give it to the poor? He would be poor then, too! How would people know that God had blessed him if he didn’t have any money? How would people know that he and God were on good terms if he gave away all of God’s blessings? He walked away sadly. I wonder if he was sad because he was disillusioned with Jesus. I wonder if he was sad for the right reason – that money was more important to him than people and Jesus made him realize that. The call to this rich man is not a call for all people to sell everything they have to give to the poor. At the same time, it might be a call from God for some people. Those people are most likely going to be the kind of people who keep score with money to determine their worth. Where do you find your worth? Is it in your relationship with God or is it in the abundance of “stuff” that you have?
I can’t help but wonder if many of the former stars who are now broke and living on the streets might have used all their money to indulge themselves and never really thought about others. I can’t help but wonder about those stars who took their initial mega-million dollar contracts and immediately began helping others like Warrick Dunn did; how did they fare in the long run? The call of God isn’t just for the ultra-rich, He calls people like you and me also. What is our attitude about money, about “stuff?” What do you have that God might ask you to give up to help others? Are the financial blessings you receive from God a way to keep score of your “goodness” or are they given to you so that you can help others? I believe that God blesses us so that we can help others. If I were to ask you to do one thing today it would be to take some time to look at your finances and see if there is a way that you can help someone else – then do it!
Lord, I am so blessed. You have given me far more than I deserve. I have Your grace and mercy that brought forgiveness. I have financial blessings that are far more than most people in the world. Remind me to spread Your grace and mercy to others, even as I use those financial blessings to help others.