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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Money in the eyes of the Kingdom

We live in the world, yet...

We also belong to a kingdom that is yet to come. God's kingdom is the kingdom that all mankind is welcome to claim for themselves, as God's love is great, and generous enough for everyone to partake in. 

God's kingdom is the ever after, the one that will endure for ages and ages.

But we also live in this world, the one in which we have to survive, from day to day. I can't even count the number of burdens that I have, which, you may also have...

-Child education, e.g. kindergarten
-Wife's shopping (and other unspeakables)
-Household expenses, e.g. groceries
-Housing instalments.
-Car instalments.
-Tuition fees for further studies (recently abated somewhat thanks to a government scholarship).
-Monthly utility bills
-Credit card debts
-Unexpected expenses, e.g. medical expenses
-So on and so forth.

These are real challenges! And despite some of them seemingly rather mundane, it is often the mundane that become too heavy to bear!

I can still remember my wife saying, "I need to buy insurance, buy insurance for me!" And so, we signed up for insurance, even though she already had insurance.... and every month thereafter, I pay for it.

This continuing burden is sometimes lost on the marriage partner, if they only see the initial outlay. They think that the debt is only a one-off, and the debt counter is reset every month. (The credit card debt needs to be paid, and in the event of death, it will be deducted out of the estate of the deceased debtor.)

Sometime last year my wife suddenly vowed to lose weight. We went to the gym and she signed up for a special membership package, and we got a two-for-one deal. I thought, "This is okay..." And then I got a shocker when she decided to sign up for 48 personal training sessions. 

This year, unexpectedly, we had to make some allocation for a sudden trip to Taiwan, because my wife's sister had wanted to go. She had just lost her newborn baby and the whole family decided to rally around her. But we had already made plans to go for another overseas trip later this year....

I try to find the wisdom of God in all of it. Did I somehow fulfill God's intention in all this spending?

Perhaps, us going to Taiwan was a way of God trying to bless my wife's sister and her husband. We got closer to them, and they found God's love in the process. They now worship in a Chinese church.

Perhaps, us signing up for 48 personal training sessions was a way of God giving my wife the confidence that she needs in her daily walk. She was delighted with all the compliments that she received from her friends.

Today, I read about 14 ways that God views money differently.

And these are from an article about finances in God's Kingdom from Charisma Magazine, the online Christian portal. I read the article and I find myself convicted by the truths in it. 

I also see that some of my church leaders follow the way God has intended for wealth to be used. No wonder they are greatly blessed, and may they continue to be blessed.

One of the members, God bless him, has given my son treatment before, with minimal cost. Of course, some charges were unavoidable, but what he could do for us, he did. And I am grateful for that, because I struggle too, just as others do. But sometimes we cannot say it out loud. 

That leader and his wife serve whole hearted in church. I am amazed to sometimes see that they take time out of their busy day to visit a sick member. For them, their work is intertwined with administering to the flock.

They are good people to emulate, and I hope that we can be like them one day. One day lah.

Here are some ways the Kingdom of God views money differently from the Kingdom of this World. Perhaps it will be a good idea (for me) to read this through again when I have the time... And the original article contains much elaboration on these ideas.

1. God wants our wealth to be used (judiciously, and wisely!) to bless others. But in this world, we tend to hoard and accumulate wealth.

2. God wants us to hear his gentle nudging on how to use our finances. But in this world, we decide how to use our wealth.

3. God wants us to use the first fruits of our labours to honour him. But in this world, we often honour ourselves with the first fruits of our labour.

4. God wants us to trust Him to provide for our finances. But in this world, we need to rely on ourselves to provide for our own finances.

5. God will provide when we have His favour. (We need to make sure that we are right with God.) But in this world, we need to curry favour with others, and maybe, even bow to them.

6. God wants us to use our wealth for His purposes. But in this world, our wealth is kept away, until we need it.

7. God wants us to act out of faith. But the world forces us to act out of fear.

8. God multiplies our wealth. But in this world, we have to make use of others in order to "leverage" them.

9. God wants us to solve problems. But in this world, we tend to complain and create problems. 

10. God wants us to look to Him as the source of our strength. But in this world, our strength comes from other men.

11. God wants us to be content with what He has given us. But in this world, our search is never ending, and we are never content with what we have.

12. God wants us to act as stewards of our wealth, to use it for His kingdom. But in this world, we are selfish and care only for ourselves.

13. God gives us wealth to confirm His blessing. But in this world, we seek wealth to attain our (non-Godly) objectives.

14. God's intention is wealth to be used for His Kingdom. But in this world, wealth is often used for selfish purposes.

I was surprised by some of the statements above, which are paraphrased from the headings in the original article. I think that it's time to reorient ourselves.... yet wisdom is ever important. The art of hearing from God is also one that comes with prayer. It's a rare individual who gets telephone calls from God, who tells him/her, "Do this...." The rest of us have to rest in prayer, and the beauty of it is, prayer is open to all of us. 

Prayer is like 7-Eleven, always available, any time of the day, whenever and wherever you need it.