If I’d Known I Was Going to Live this Long, I’d Have Taken Better Care of Myself… …and Others
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
(2 Corinthians 9:6-9 NIV)
A few weeks ago, I shared with our church family that my mother use to say, “Whatever you give to the Lord, will come back tenfold.” Now for the record, I noted, that specific cost benefit analysis i.e. exact promise is not in the Bible, but much is in the Bible about the benefits and blessings of giving, giving of our time, money and resources. This admonition quoted from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church is about giving of our financial resources. It not only encourages the Christian to give generously, but to be cheerful about it – joyful that we are given the opportunity and privilege to invest in the proclamation and proliferation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My experience over the last three decades or so, however, is that many folks are not “cheerful givers.” One reason is because many folks are poor stewards, poor planners, poor investors of their time, money, health and resources. If you ask most Christians, they would probably tell you that they recognize that everything they have, their time on this earth, the money they earn, their good health and even remaining breaths are blessings from God. The problem with many of us, however, is once we receive those gifts, we become very possessive and resistant to parting – sharing sacrificially in gratitude.
We often claim that, as God’s people, we are no longer under the Law of Moses, who gave the tithe as a law and called the first 10 percent “Holy,” or set apart belonging to God, as were God’s people before Jesus. The challenge with that thinking is we don’t get to spin God’s Word to our “temporary” advantage. Christ gave up everything for us and thus if we are truly Christians i.e. little Christs, we are called to a life of sacrifice. Too many Christians don’t see the glass as 90% full of what they keep. They see it as 10% empty and withhold resources that would glorify God for personal gain. The Bible is very clear that the more we reject our temporary advantages and comforts on earth, the greater our eternal advantage i.e. rewards will be in Heaven. Plus, how cool will it be, for those of us who have trusted our lives to Jesus, to one day see that a life was changed and even eternally saved because of our relatively small sacrifices while we lived our relatively short lives here on earth.
Jazz musician Eubie Blake, who was later quoted by legendary baseball player Mickey Mantle said, If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself. As Christians, we know, we are going to live a long long life, not in these temporary shells we call the human body, but in eternity. Shouldn’t we maximize our returns there by being good stewards, good planners, and good investors of our time, money, health and resources; to take care of ourselves, and others, by investing in those things that have eternal value, and by compassionately showing others, their need for a Savior – Jesus Christ?