Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am Won KIM voicing Pastor Caleb Soo Lee ChongVMD 09. Shalom. Last week, we talked about the worldview of Christians on money – How do I view money as a Christian? I would be under its control forever if Money becomes my master. However, it would come under my control, if it becomes my servant. As a western saying goes: Money is the best servant, and also the worst master. That makes a lot of sense.
Here is another one for you: Money is like sea water. It does not quench your thirst, but makes it worse with every sip. While rich folks are living it up, they may not be a happy lot. There is a limit on what money can do. It cannot become our master. We have only one Master, our LORD, the Creator of everything around us. Thus, we must always be mindful that all we have are blessings from God. We are to harness these blessings to help others, bear witness and bring glory to Him, instead of being reduced to become its slave, and carry the heavy burden throughout our lives. It would be extremely unfortunate if we were to be trapped in such a dire situation.
At our last session, we spoke of tithing as the start of a journey that disciplines us so that we can free ourselves from its fetters. For someone to proclaim that he is giving all of himself to God might sound somewhat abstract. Tithing makes it easier to understand. The word ‘tithe’ comes from the old English word teogotha, meaning “one tenth”; so, when a person ‘tithes’ he is giving away one-tenth of his personal income. For example, I give $100 if I make $1000, $1000 if I make $10,000 and $10,000 if I make $100,000. I think I can accept that.
However, if I did not start that way, i.e., gave less than $100 when I was making $1000, it would be very difficult for me to cough out $10,000 if my income becomes $100,000 in time to come. This is because $10,000 by itself looks like a big figure. Note that we have ignored the $90,000 that is still with you. You are more aware that you took out $10,000, but did not see the $90,000 that you have. That’s why so many people are feeling unhappy and dissatisfied.
One would feel most collected, generous and magnanimous if he is able to focus on what he possesses, rather than on what he has given away. That would put him in a better position to build a harmonious relationship with others around him. It would be wrong if we were to give with an unwilling heart, treating it as an act of charity or offering alms to a beggar or someone from a lesser status. Dear brothers and sisters, no one should give with a superiority complex when helping another in need. The right attitude is to treat the recipient as our equal.
A brother who has been tithing faithfully shared that he could feel the generosity of God’s provisions ever since he embarked on this journey. His children seldom fall sick these days. In the past, a lot of money was spent on footing his children’s medical bills. Since then, no more medical expenses have been incurred; better still, there is now a surplus! In other words, tithing brings to the family positive gains rather than negative losses. Yes, we need to experience such goodness of God for ourselves!
Chase out the greedy and miserly thinking in us; unleash the goodness of money within!
Perpetual Greed and Stubborn Miser work hand in glove within us to wrest control over our lives. How can we weed out these two hideous beings so that the goodness of money may be released? In his book, Dr. Richard J. Foster speaks of the bright and dark sides of money. We need to face these two core issues head-on, unleash the bright side of money and chase out its dark side. How are we to proceed from here? There are four levels:
In the Bible in the book of Matthew chapter 6 verse 25, it reads, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” before raising the challenge in chapter 6 verse 34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
“Don't be afraid; just believe.” – that is the state of health our mindset needs to take hold of. Oftentimes, we fear or worry that we would become dirt-poor. But when we possess something, we are also worried about losing it. Such conflicting emotions -- anxiety to gain and fear of losing -- begin to run circles around us. Oftentimes the worry causes us to seek safety in money, just as a predator goes after its prey. Soon, before we know it, role-switching has occurred between them: the prey has turned predator!
From the angle of credence, worry is a type of disbelief, a distrust of God. It is a sign of self-centeredness and occurs when a worried person focuses on himself and his wealth, rather than God. Jesus said, “If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. Matthew 6:22 (KJV).” If we do not look up to God, our sight turns bleary and we wander into the black hole of fearful darkness, to find ourselves worried sick in whatever we do.
Jesus made use of a familiar example to illustrate His point in Matthews 6, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. … See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” There is thus no need for us to worry; we just need to turn to God in faith for these needs. Overcoming worry is key to avoid being fettered by money.
2. The Experiential Level: Personal experiencing the presence of God
Secondly, we need to personally experience the presence of God at the monetary level. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” As human beings, we need to go through this to experience for ourselves that His love surpasses this world. Only then, it would become possible for we to do away with this ‘adorable’ money. We have been experiencing the convenience, freedom, happiness and enjoyment far too often, indeed so much so that we cannot but feel obliged towards (read “worship”) it for enabling such conveniences.
On one occasion I was outside this restaurant looking at the menu when I was taken aback by the price of offerings. Turning around, I told my wife, “Let’s go somewhere else.” Needless to say, I didn’t feel good. If I could only make a grand entrance, sit down and say to the waiter, “I want all of this delicious stuff!” won’t I be carried away by this top-of-the-world feeling? I am sure all my guests would feel the same way, too!
Which is why I say that money confers upon us indescribable convenience, freedom, happiness and enjoyment. Once I have gone through such an experience, my love for money would escalate the more I think about it. This is especially so for those who come from needy families where parents could not even provide for their basic needs. O, how tough life was then! Such experiences would be nudging him incessantly: you’ll need to squirrel away funds for a rainy day! And he will echo in return: no, there is no way for me to visit those bad old days again!
On the other end of the spectrum, we have children who have been through good times. They only know the convenience and comfort that comes with all that wealth. To tell them that saving for a rainy day and all those lectures about frugality would be to cast pearls before swines. Please cut out all of that!
Well, these are the two extremes.
Such experiences have shaped and imprinted upon us a distorted understanding of money. Once we overcome such concepts, we would be better positioned to understand the teachings in the Bible and see how we can obey the call or mission that God has in store for us. Having experienced His bountiful blessings, we would no longer be apprehensive over the days of abject poverty, because deep inside of us, we know that His Presence is with us in these circumstances.
In the Biblical narrative in Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac -- something that is unthinkable for us. However, Abraham did just that, and even passed with flying colours. Why? Remember that God had given Isaac to him when he was one hundred years old -- by then the womb of his wife was barren. How is he going to father a child? But God told him that He would be giving Abraham a child a year later. And this promise came true! The impossible had taken place! This is a miracle, no less --an unbelievable event in the history of Mankind!
When Isaac was into his teens, God said to Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, go into the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering.” Abraham willingly obeyed God. When he stretched out his hand to slay his son, God again provided him, saying, “Do not lay your hand on the lad!” and slaughtered a ram that God had prepared for him in the thicket in place of Isaac.
Yes, God had His provisions prepared at hand. Can you imagine to what heights the Abraham’s spirituality have soared at the slopes of Mt Moriah after this experience with God Himself? I have experienced God personally, henceforth, I am willing to do whatever God ask me to do, and offer whatever sacrifice He ask of me. How important it is indeed for you and me to experience God for ourselves!
3. The Conceptual Level -- Be very clear about this: everything in the Universe is God’s own Creation and belongs to Him; we are but His stewards.
We need to constantly review and renew ourselves at the conceptual level. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
There must be not a shadow of doubt within us because everything in the Universe is created by and belongs to God; we are but His stewards, who, having been given the trust must prove to be faithful. (1 Cor 3:1-2). God requires of us to work faithfully as we manage and take care of everything that He has made, as we complete what he has entrusted us to do in accordance with His will. In carrying out such an obligation, we do not have any sovereign rights over any of these things, as all of these belong to God. They are His to own.
Hence, I would be most willing if God wants my child to give himself and become a pastor, as that, too, is a gift from Him. Understanding His Sovereignty will cleanse me of any desire to possess, long for and feel anxious on my part. The following story comes to mind. When John Wesley was a five-year-old child, he saw his family house brought down in a fire disaster in 1709. He was miraculously plucked from the burning house and everyone in his family survived the harrowing experience. No doubt his father could not but feel sad at the sight. However, he was seen to be smiling later. His puzzled wife sought the reason when she saw that, to which he replied, “This house belongs to God. It is now no more and I have one item less to be responsible for!” It takes a spiritual man to see where sovereignty lies!
4. The Action Level: It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Finally, at the Action Level. In the Book of Acts 20:35 Paul said, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Giving money is an effective channel of expressing our love towards God. An economist once said that Money is a form of power because of its relationship to its owner. When a man gives of his wealth, he usually gives of himself at the same time. This is the reason why people find it so difficult to tithe. When we tithe, we are also hitting at ourselves in the process; it is an act whereby we hand ourselves over to Him.
Giving is thus an expression of our concern to the recipient; it is also our most effective means to bring down the miser residing inside of us. A wealthy patient had this to say, “I feel frightened whenever I think of giving part of my money to someone else.” This feeling is very real indeed. Even as we give, we are taking down the false sense of security and self-image that we have been weaving for ourselves.
Tithing and giving will prompt us to live in faith and build our trust in God. Indeed, provisions will come our way if we look up to Him, even as the Israelites satisfied their hunger pangs with the manna provided from above. There is no need to hold large amounts as reserves, nor rely upon a massive support system. This is faith! We believe in Jesus Christ; those who believe in God will do likewise. Let us unleash the positive power of money today!
Dear brothers and sisters. No one can bring money with him to Heaven, but everyone can send it there now. Money cannot buy one’s salvation, but can be harnessed to fund missions to spread His word. May these words sink deeply into your hearts, and that you become a good steward of wealth who takes care of His gifts and become the master of money as well.
Let us pray
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for showing us how to put ourselves down when it comes to matters concerning money. Continue to guide us so that we would neither set up our own idols nor allow money to become the object of our worship. We resolve put ourselves totally in your hands, experience you, and live our lives in faith. May our lives become a blessing to others, because we are willing to give and share your provisions with others within our midst. May You protect us, and your church too, so that we can bear you witness. We pray in the name of Lord Jesus, Amen.
Recommendations by Rev. Dr Caleb SOO Lee Chong
The three books “The Gospel for the Modern Man”, “Faith of the Modern Believer” and “Values for the Modern Disciple” by Rev. Dr Caleb SOO Lee Chong are worthy books to edify disciples. In order to minimize differences in the qualities amongst Christians, our churches need to set up basic courses to address these issues. In turn, this will enable all disciples to incorporate their faith into their lives and allow changes to take place through renewal of minds. May God make use of these basic courses to edify more disciples to strengthen His soldiers and claim victory on His battle-ground!
The three books “The Gospel for the Modern Man”, “Faith of the Modern Believer” and “Values for the Modern Disciple” are suitable course materials for anyone who wish to acquire understanding of the Christian faith in a more comprehensive manner. The contents are easy to grasp and relate to the real world that we are living in. They are written with an eye for the man-in-the-street and explore how to make our faith come alive in our daily social interactions.
In particular, these are suitable if you
1. are someone who wants to understand the Christian faith or,
2. are someone who has just accepted the Christian faith or,
3. have been a Christian for many years but still hungering for a firmer grounding in the faith or,
4. are a pastor or co-worker who plans to use these materials for teaching purposes.
If you need to take up learning or use these materials in a systematic manner, please us contact at this email address： [email protected]