Blessed To Be a Blessing
by Erika F. Puni
Job’s life-experience with God, and his response to his personal loss underscores an important reality and truth about wealth and earthly possessions. God owns them all, and they are temporal blessings only. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). While this faith-testimony puts the rightful ownership of everything that Job had, including his life, with God, it also highlights the temporal nature of human wealth and the things of this world. They don’t last forever and they are not for us to keep. Jesus made this point very clear in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19, 20). God’s blessings are given to us so we can share them with others; and more importantly, to invest with Him in His mission on earth—to make disciples of all people groups (Matt. 28:18-20).
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal"
Tithe and Offerings: Investments with God
Our tax accountant in Australia is a secular person and he always questioned the amount of money we give yearly to God through the church. From his perspective, this was a huge cost and unnecessary expense. He saw our “religious donations” in tithe (the Lord’s portion in our income) and offerings (our gifts to God) as a liability, and he was concerned that we were not receiving any benefit from such giving. While we respect our accountant’s point of view, my wife and I knew why we did what we did and why we continue to return tithe and give freewill offerings even today. Tithe belongs to God. He is the Owner of everything by virtue of being the Creator of the world. Tithing is an act of worship. It is a personal expression of our faithfulness to God and the covenant relationship He initiated with us in Jesus Christ. Offerings, on the other hand, are what we choose to give God in gratitude for all that He has done for us and for all of the blessings of life that He showers on us daily. Beyond the “worship” focus of Christian giving, the returning of tithe and the giving of freewill offerings grants us a unique opportunity as Adventists to be part of God’s mission. This is a great privilege.
Remembering God with our Blessings
Financial stewardship, as expressed in our giving of offerings and the returning of the Lord’s tithe, is one way whereby we remember God as our constant Provider and Sustainer of Life. While this reminder and biblical emphasis is not new, it is certainly critical in today’s materialistic world where the focus of living is “self,” and the accumulation of wealth becomes an obsession and our vocation. Jesus points out the importance of making God the center of life, while exposing the human mistake of trusting only in our wealth when he told the parable of the “rich fool.” Earning money through hard work was not the rich farmer’s problem; it was his failure to remember God as the giver of all blessings. Jesus concluded by saying, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God"
Sharing God’s blessings with the Poor
The State of Maryland in the United States, where we live, is supposed to be the “richest” state of this country, with a median household income of $USD69,272.00 according to the US census 2010. Yet, in spite of this wealth, I see very often on the road and at traffic lights individuals who are begging for money. I know that this picture of people asking for help is the reality in countries all over the world. Jesus calls His disciples to respond positively and minister to this need. “The poor you will always have with you” (Matt. 26:11). To the rich young ruler, He said, “. . . go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Matt. 19:21). God’s purpose for His stewards in the world is not to accumulate wealth and keep it for oneself, but to give as God has given all—in Christ Jesus. Giving our all in response to God’s all is the secret of Christian financial stewardship and investment.