Tuesday, 31 July 2012

IS POVERTY SYNONYMOUS WITH PIETY?


Is poverty a virtue?

                                                                     
The phrase “as poor as a church mouse” seems appealing to those who think that poverty is a virtue.

Believers have often been taught that money and piety do not go well together, just like oil and water:

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. * Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain” (1 Timothy 6:10).

And so it is easy to overreact – to embrace the notion that poverty is synonymous with piety.

While being rich should not be our primary focus, we should not embrace a scarcity mentality either.

As God’s children, we have to think big and expect great things from God.

In the account of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (Luke 9:10-17), Jesus tested the disciples, challenging them to feed the multitudes at the end of the day when everyone was all tired and hungry.

To the disciples, it was inconceivable for Jesus to tell them, "You give them something to eat," when they were “stuck” in a remote area with no easy access to food.

When it comes to ministry, we too, like the disciples, have often been driven to despair on account of our own insufficiency.

When the disciples protested that it would cost a bomb to feed everyone, Jesus asked them what they had. They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” a little boy’s lunch.

Looking at the circumstances, they saw no way out except to send the people away to fend for themselves. But Jesus said, "Give them to me." And as they say, the rest is history. Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes, multiplied them and fed the multitudes.

Until the disciples were willing to commit to God whatever little they had, God did not move. Similarly, He is able to work mightily when we commit our “five loaves and two fishes” (time, talents and resources) for His use.

Embracing an abundance mindset — as opposed to a scarcity mindset — involves learning to walk by faith, tapping into His infinite resources, enjoying His blessings with gratitude and being a channel of His blessings.

We have to think big, move out of our comfort zone, envision great things for His glory — even what is humanly impossible — whether it’s in the church, community or marketplace.

For He is able to “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

If we can do it on our own, what need is there for supernatural strength? As the Psalmist instructs us: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You” (Psalms 84:5).

A pastor in a small town heard clearly from God to build a multi-storey church without any financing from a bank. Many thought that he had gone mad. But he stuck to his guns. Amazingly, God's provision came through a rich widow who funded the purchase of the building. If the God we believe in owns everything, including the cattle on a thousand hills, what is this miniscule project to Him?

Footnote:

*       It is the love of money which is a root of all kinds of evil. Money, in itself, is not evil.
In fact, being neutral, money can feed a family, fund a child’s education, support God’s work and so many other good causes.

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