"They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed." Psalm 37:26
About 4-5 weeks ago I was having lunch with my best friend here in Irvine. We got together because as business continues to get tougher it appears to be a great time to figure out something new to do. We've always had a knack for creating businesses and with so much free time, getting together to create something new seemed like a great idea. Fortunately for us, God had some other plans that day, plans that have completely shifted my thinking since we met.
After we sat down for lunch and got geared up to discuss what our new great plans would be, the personal questions started. "How are the kids?", "How are you dealing with the lack of work?", "You ever thought about getting out of California?", "Why does it seem like we work four times as hard for an eighth of the money?". That last question brought a strange understanding of my own life over me, it was like I stepped outside of myself and saw that all my striving, all my hard work was actually being done for three reasons. The first was out of a fear that God would not provide. Even though He says He will, I believed that if I didn't "figure it out", we would eventually end up living in my parents garage. The second was that "I" had to take care of my family. This goes along with the first fear, but it is different in that I was placing the stress of the world on my own shoulders believing that if I was taking a day off, I was actually letting my family down. The third reason for my striving follows the second in that if I was hanging out in my house at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon, I look like a failure to the world around me. Basically, the third reason for my striving is that I was consumed with making sure others see how hard I work so that they know I love my family. All three reasons are lies brought on by the Father of lies himself. Of course there is a way out of this rut and the remedy to these issues all come down to the basic things I've been writing about: trusting God, abandoning self and discerning the truth.
Because it seemed as though I was having an epiphany that day I couldn't help but share what was going on in my head. Each question I asked Him, I realized I was truly asking myself. Questions like, "Why do we believe it is a curse to be at home in the afternoon, having to hang out with our families? Isn't it actually a blessing if we take on a Godly perspective?" or "Isn't it funny how we so frequently complain when we're busy that if we can just do "this" or "that" we will finally be able to do what we "want" to do?". It wasn't that long ago, during the busy times that both of us wanted to spend more time with our family, go on trips, and spend more quality time with God. The irony of course is that ever since we got what we wanted, we have fallen victim to the lies of this world, lies that tell us we're a failure if we don't focus on providing "the old fashioned way".
Today's verse is the answer to all of that striving I was doing. I'm sure if my friend reads this He would say the same thing. You see, today's verse says so much, yet again it was one of those we may breeze by because we already "get it". Today's scripture really must be broken down into two parts or thoughts. The first part of the passage says that the "righteous" (the ones we have previously determined are being made righteous through their relationship with Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit) give generously and lend freely. Are you free to give or lend regardless of your financial position because you trust that God will continue to provide what you need? I personally struggle with this and in order to trick myself, I will randomly give large gifts when times are good to make up for the times I don't give during the lean days. It's the old balancing act of giving and then at the end of the year I average it all out over twelve months and feel pretty good about myself. Without realizing it, I have fallen into the trap of making money my security, and that is the reason I give on my own terms instead of "freely".
The second thought about today's verse is much different. It ties into that heavenly perspective we've discussed over the past month. Though I know this scripture is talking about giving out of a complete trust in what God will provide, it is not just talking about the giving or lending of money. I truly believe if "time is money" as they (who are they?) say, then the time we give or lend to others, even at the expense of not making money is another act of trust and obedience in God. When I read the last line, "their children will be blessed", I can't help but think about the shame I would have if my child (or wife for that matter) failed to see the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in me as I don't spend time with them in favor of making more money. What a shame it would be if I showed them that providing only has to do with money and what we need to sacrifice in order to get more. What shame and lie it would be if I told them that I can't spend time with them because I need to "provide for them". What a shame it would be if I told my children to trust God as I ran out the door showing them that I actually only trust myself.
Today's message should really hit you men out there right between the eyes. The men who find their identity in their work, in their job or in their career. I want to remind you that blessing your children means so much more that just "providing" financially, giving them a car when they're sixteen, sending them to private schools or to college. Blessing your children is teaching them that we can give freely, we can lend without fear because we trust a God that is big enough to take care of all His children. Have you considered that many times it is you that takes care of "of the least of these" for Him by trusting God to provide as we give of our time and money? Take a step back today and look at the message you are relaying to your kids, your wife (or husband), your family and your friends. Are you telling them with your actions that you are the answer to life and the "master of your destiny", or are you blessing them by teaching them what it truly means to be a "cheerful giver" out of your trust in our loving Father?