“Hey, Max, before we start this five-hour drive,” I said, “let’s get some good coffees.”
“Okay,” my partner on the speaking tour said, “get me a Mocha Venti. You have the card, right?”
Ten minutes later, I climbed back into the van with his Mocha, my Cappuccino (with an extra shot of espresso) and an iced Mocha Frappe.
“Oh, I thought we’d drop it off at the breakfast place on the way out of town for that waitress who told us how to get to Starbucks. Remember she said she loved iced Mocha Frappes?”
“Right, good idea.”
After pleasantly surprising the waitress with her favorite iced coffee, we drove on down the road, and, as I sipped my Cappuccino, I thought how easy it was for me to spend those few dollars to make someone feel appreciated.
What made it even easier was that I had used the Starbucks card provided by Wycliffe Associates, not my own money.
It’s easy to be generous with someone else’s money, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t vote for better office chairs at work, or faster snow removal in our community, or a clearer sound system in church? It’s easy to promote good projects when we don’t have to pay for them from our own bank account.
Now for a theological reality check. Nothing we own is ours. There is not one shiny nickel in our bank accounts that Jesus can’t put his finger on and say, “This is mine!” In fact, every nickel in the world is His. As is every dollar, yen, peso, yuan, real, guilder, schilling, franc, pound, ruble, euro, mark, rand, rupee, etc. “All creation and its bounty are mine” Psalm 50:12 (MSG).
You and I are merely God’s money managers. Most of earth’s seven billion people don’t understand this concept. They labour under the delusion that the money is theirs, not realizing it was God who gave them the power to earn it. “If you start thinking to yourselves, ‘I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!’—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth . . .” Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (MSG).
Unfortunately many Christians, who ought to know better, also hold fuzzy ideas about God owning everything. Some believers give 10% of their income to God’s work and then act as if the rest is their own which they can spend without having to account to Him for it. Not so. We give the tithe simply as a token amount to remind us that everything we have belongs to God.
It goes against the grain of our greed to pray, “Thank you for helping me to earn this money. Now guide me to make wise decisions and give generously to those in need.”
Once we understand that the money in our wallets, purses and accounts is not our own, God merely needs to nudge us and we’ll quickly use some of it to meet needs around us.
We’ll respond to His inner voice as easily as it was for me to use Wycliffe money to buy a Frappe for a hardworking waitress.
PS: I have never been sick on any of the many speaking tours I have been on, until this week. Severe diarrhea and weakness, likely the result of food poisoning, , according to the doctor, probably from a Chinese buffet dinner last Sunday night. Thus far I have continued to speak, with no “accidents”. Starting tomorrow night I am speaking three more times before Sunday day off. You know what to pray for!