AM I RICH TOWARD GOD?
“So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:21 NASB
The verse above is the end of the parable of the Lord Jesus about the rich fool. I have quoted it to highlight the concept of being rich towards God. As one can easily understand by reading the whole parable, it does not fare well with those who are not rich towards God. For not being rich towards God the rich man died suddenly without having the opportunity to enjoy the wealth he had just gained. It is therefore good for every Christian to check his life so as to ensure that he is indeed rich towards God.
Contemporary Christian teaching and practice cause me to be burdened in this area. Faulty teaching is the source of wrong beliefs, and wrong beliefs in turn underlie wrong practices. It is a fact that in today’s Christianity many people give to God mostly in an idolatrous fashion. They are not truly rich toward God.
I do not wish to give a long teaching here on the issue of money; I have done that in many books and sermons (see list below*). What I wish to do in brief while sounding a note of caution to Christians is to help each one do a private assessment of his or her richness toward God. I will use several terms to describe this same concept of being rich towards God including, being a giver of faith, being a cheerful giver and true generosity.
Don’t forget that God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7) and no matter what we do, if the heart is not right we get no reward from Him (Jer 17:10), and sometimes even though the outward work may be good, we may just be doing iniquity (Eccl 5:1). You can only judge your heart by prayerfully examining your thoughts and your actions in the light of the word of God.
Here are my warning points; they are to help each one of us examine our own selves:
1. If you expect God’s blessings because of your gifts, you are not generous. NB: A Christian can only expect things because of God’s love, mercy and the grace of Christ.
2. If you recall your gifts and offerings to mind when praying and overtly or subtly mention them to the Lord, expecting favour as a result, you are not rich towards God.
3. If you tie your offerings to your needs, that is, giving so as to have those needs met, you definitely are not a cheerful giver.
4. If you are offended because someone you helped yesterday did not show you favour later, then you are not serving God in your giving life.
5. If you give to people because ‘you never know tomorrow,’ you are not giving to God.
6. If you think that where you are now is because of your giving of yesterday, then you are not a giver of faith or cheerful giver. (The truth is that you are what you are by the grace of God).
7. If you are wondering why you have not yet prospered plenty despite the fact that you have given much, then you are not rich toward God.
8. If you do not give regularly and voluntarily towards the preaching and propagation of the word of God; you are not showing the Word respect and are not in that rich toward God.
9. If the man that has been a blessing towards you in the preaching of the word never drinks water from your resources, you are violating the word of God and are not rich towards God.
10. If you give mainly to your church/ministry, a man of God and such places, but hardly ever to those in need; most likely you still have a lot of idolatry in your system; your giving is not fully faith-giving and you have not yet discerned where God can be found. You still think God is to be found in churches alone but not around you every day. (The truth is that God often shows up as a needy insignificant person who carries no ministerial anointing. Prov 19:17; Matt 25:42-45.)
11. In this same light, if the only person that can testify to your generosity is your pastor and church elders, you are not serving God. If the poor does not bless you as much as your pastor does, you have a problem.
12. If you do not pay those who work for you when it is due even though you can, but you never fail to pay your tithes and give first fruits or offerings on time, you are not rich towards God. It is self-righteousness and you will not be prospered by it. (Mal 3:5; James 5:1)
13. If you are afraid to ‘steal from God’ but do not mind stealing from man; if you do not pay your personal debts to individuals and businesses while never missing giving offerings, redeeming your vows and even paying tithes, you are not rich towards God; you are still an idolater and you are still a thief before God. Fulfil your obligations to both God and man; one cannot be done without the other. Be wise with your financial planning. ‘Giving to God’ does not excuse you from giving to man (1 John 4:20)
14. The difference between a good man and a bad man is what makes each happy. If you are happy when you get and are not as happy when your brother or neighbour gets, you are not a generous man.
Think about these things and the God of peace will be with you.
*The books include Grace to Prosper, How to Work for God, and So Who Will Pay for This?. Among the audio sermons available are the following series: Your Money, Seven Biblical Keys of Financial prosperity, Biblical Financial Management, etc.