B. M. Ruguri, Executive Secretary

East-Central Africa Division

Summary: In this sermon, B. M. Ruguri emphasizes the source of real security! How does God move upon the human heart to give with grace? Read and be blessed.

Not enough for the journey

Watchman Nee was a gifted man who excelled in the grace of giving. While serving in the city of Foochow, this young Chinese minister received an invitation to address a series of weekend meeting in Chien-o, a town one-hundred fifty miles up the river.

The fare by motorboat would cost at least eighty dollars and Nee only had thirty dollars in hand. But, believing that all of his expenses would be met through the providence of God, he accepted the invitation. That very week, Nee learned that a fellow believer urgently needed money. He wanted to help, but he knew that he still didn’t have the fare for his trip. But Nee couldn’t get his brother’s plight out his mind. God seemed to be reminding him of his duty to his fellow believers. On the day before his trip, Nee gave the man twenty dollars.

That Friday the young minister crossed by ferry to the boat dock with only ten dollars in his pocket. No one had sent him any money for traveling expenses. While he traveled on the ferry, Nee prayed earnestly, ?Lord, I am not asking you for money: my prayer is only that you take me to Chien-o.?

As he arrived at the landing platform, Nee was accosted by the owner of a small steam-launch.

?Are you going to Yen-ping or Chien-o?? the man asked.

?To Chien-o,? Nee replied.

?Then come with me. I’ll take you.?

?For how much??

?Seven dollars,? the man answered.

Nee could hardly believe it! As he carried his luggage on board he learned that the boat was under county charter, but the owner sometimes had one extra seat available, which he could give to a passenger for a little money.

God acted

Nee enjoyed a peaceful, scenic trip upriver to Chien-o. For two weeks he preached in the town and made an impact on many people. At the end of the meetings he faced the long boat ride back, with only a dollar and twenty cents in his pocket. The missionaries in Chien-o were more than willing to help, but Nee told no one of his need. He had been deeply impressed that God would work in His own way.

Before reaching the boat dock, the young preacher was overtaken by a messenger bearing a gift from one of his friends. The gift more than covered his expenses, because the same charter boat happened to be there at the dock—with the same vacant seat available for seven dollars.

Watchman Nee would remember that trip to Chien-o for the rest of his life. He had given much to receive even more. But it wasn’t the financial returns that Nee treasured. It was the thrill of cooperating with God, seeing His hand in action. Nee did not give and acquire wealth. He gave and acquired a rich faith. He had the wonderful assurance that God would meet his needs as promised through the Apostle Paul: ?And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus? (Phil 4:19).

There are two competing philosophies that face us everyday. One says grab all you can get. The other says excel in the grace of giving. One promises material abundance and urges us to hoard. The other promises eternal security and urges us to give—paradoxically it is through giving that we receive.

The myth of financial security

Many people accumulate possessions because they are under the misguided notion that possessions provide security. Like the rich young fool, they think that their possessions will allow them to live a life of ease and will ward off any future disaster. However, it is crucial to underscore that it’s only God who can provide ultimate security.

We’ve heard of the many famous casualties of the economic machine who ?wheel-and-deal? themselves into long prison terms. But there are countless more whose spiritual values are drowned out by the frenzy to buy and sell.

I believe Jesus diagnoses the essence of the problem in Luke 12:15: ?Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.?

What is Christ saying here? ?Your life, your worth, is not made up of what you possess.? Beware. Why? It’s a dead end. You will never get enough. You will never possess enough things to feel secure. You must look elsewhere to become a secure human being.

Misplaced hope

Money becomes addictive when we use it to try to get security. Paul writes this to Timothy about the danger of the rich placing their hope in their wealth:

?Command those who are rich in this present world not to become arrogant nor put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

?Command them to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of life that is truly life? (1Tm 6:17-19)

Jesus, recognizing that the love of money is the root of all evil, urges His follower to lay up treasures in heaven: ?For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.? Do you see what Jesus was getting at? It is a question of real security.

Media Block Image Alt

October–December, 2003

Stewardship