I recently read a Forbes list of the richest people in each of the 50 states. I also read a Forbes list of the 25 people who gave away the most money in our nation this past year. Both lists were wrong.
First the richest people: they were defined by how much they are worth fiscally. Their wealth is in their money.
True riches, though, are not quantified by money. True riches is the Minnesota sunset my son Caleb posted a picture of on Facebook. It is my son Christian sharing his passion for righteousness and justice. Richness is my husband’s hand holding mine when we take a walk or stroll around Village Pointe. It is cuddling with my dog on the couch, celebrating a good night’s sleep, watching a baby giggle, or seeing it rain on the parched ground. In Philippians 4 Paul writes about having had both plenty and need and learning to be content in all situations. That is wealth.
While I find great richness in the love of my family, the beauty of nature, and the little joys of life, even those are not my greatest wealth. Ephesians 2:4-7 states, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he has loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
My greatest riches come from my Lord Jesus Christ and His Father. I am rich in grace, love, kindness, and the hope of everlasting life with God. Like Paul, I have known times of plenty and times of want, but in all times I find contentment and joy because I am in Jesus.
What about the list of the nation’s 25 biggest givers last year? Some of them gave over $100 million. That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? But they are not the greatest givers in this nation.
In Luke 21, Jesus sees a procession of wealthy people putting their large gifts into the offering box. Then he sees a poor widow put two copper coins into the box. Turning to his disciples, he says, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:3-4).
I recently watched a video on You Tube of a man who went around to people in an upscale mall who were eating and told them he was hungry. He asked if they could give him something to eat. Not one person helped him out. Then he went to a place known for homeless people. A friend gave the homeless people a brown bag lunch or a couple small bills. The man then went up to the homeless people and said he was hungry or needed a little money. Every single homeless person gave the man half of what they had been given. Who were the big givers? Those who had little to nothing.
The big givers in our nation are the people who may have little to give but give anyway. They give $5 a month to a Christian radio station when they just lost their job, give up lunches during the week to sponsor a child, or increase their weekly giving to church after they retire on social security. The big givers are those who give their Saturday mornings to hand out food at the pantry, cut hair at Open door mission, visit the elderly in a nursing home, or teach English to immigrants.
The biggest giver of all, though, was Jesus, who became a sinner to take away our sins and gave his very life that we might live. It is because of what Christ has given and the love he has shown that we are motivated to give out of our poverty, our gifts and our love.
God’s economics are not man’s economics. In God’s economics, he who has little is often the richest, and he who gives little in earthly terms is often the one who gives the most in God’s terms. In God’s economics, I am rich beyond comprehension. And I pray that in God’s economics, I can give beyond my ability because he first loved me and gave himself for me.