Joy Not Obligation

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Psalm 23:1-3 God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. 
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows, 
      you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
   True to your word, 
      you let me catch my breath 
      and send me in the right direction.

I have been really challenged lately over the matter of my finances. It seems to me that perhaps one reason for my coming to Saipan was for God to challenge me in this whole area of giving and of having enough. And the more I have studied the gospels, the more I see that God’s heart is often so far from mine. He promises us life abundantly. He came to be our shepherd. To give us our daily bread. But we have turned that into a need for new cars, new houses, new clothes, and new gadgets. Sure, most of us good Christian folk will make sure we have allotted out 10% in tithe..but then we take the other 90% and treat it like it is our money to do with as we please. I don’t think that was the idea God was getting at when he said, “God loves a cheerful giver.” See, I don’t think God wants our 10%. I think God wants our hearts. He wants us to submit to Him and to submit our finances to Him. He wants us to make every financial decision based upon His heart. The two greatest commandments are summed up as loving God and loving our neighbors. Shouldn’t our finances be a reflection of lives that follow those commands? And yet, so often we hear of needy brothers and sisters and we simply pray and ask God to meet their needs while going about our daily business. Perhaps God is up in Heaven saying, “Hello, I put you there so you could meet their need.” Because reality is..most of us don’t need a thing. And most of us have the capacity to meet incredible needs. So then the question becomes, why don’t we?

I would admit that so often my spending habits got in the way. I bought this or that and all of sudden did not have the money left. But since my options for spending money are limited here, it has given me time to stop and think about it. And I have realized how incredibly rich I truly am and how much stuff I have that I really don’t need. But ultimately what I have found is a joy that comes from being in relationship with Christ, not from buying a new outfit or the latest ipod. See, in giving, I have found that I am blessed far more richly then I could have ever imagined.  In worrying less about what I have and more about those that have not, I have found a love and a desire for Christ and for others that I cannot explain. So for the next few months my goal is to figure out how to make it stick. How to keep this lesson stamped in my heart when I am back in a world bombarded by ads and people with the newest, latest, greatest, and trendiest. I think I know the answer.. it comes from aligning my heart and life with God’s heart and life. When you are able to see things through His eyes, the world becomes a much clearer place and giving becomes a habit and a joy, not a dreaded obligation.

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