Will God provide for my future?
This question haunts many of us. It’s the silent debate that sneaks into almost any conversation about giving. We think, “I’d like to give, but if I give who will take care of me? Will I be okay? Will God provide for my future?”
The Zero-Sum Game
Economists call this kind of thinking the zero-sum game. They explain it with this analogy: imagine a few of us were sharing an apple pie. If I dished up a big piece for me then that means you and everyone else will get less pie. The pie is a limited size so if I win, you lose.
The problem is this zero-sum game thinking works in the pie hypothetical, but not in our economy, nor in God’s. In our economy wealth can be created, not simply shuffled around. We’re not just playing with a 52-card deck. New cards get added all the time without taking away from the existing ones. Win-wins are possible.
Similarly, in God’s economy we quickly forget that the pie is infinite. God is rich. He never lacks resources. It’s never a closed system when God is in the equation. Proverbs says this:
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
Wait a second! Is this saying if I pour myself out, I will be filled up? That doesn’t make sense. Is this saying if I give I’ll grow rich and if I hold back I’ll get poorer? What kind of economy is this?
God’s economy is not our economy. His ways are higher than our ways. Our economy says, “Secure yourself, build bigger barns, stockpile, save up, have a back-up plan for your back-up plan, and prepare for every worst case scenario.” God says, “I’m your Father. Trust me and give, water others, bless them and I’ll care for you.”
Jesus Overpays His Servants
In God’s economy, giving is always a win-win. Jesus said:
“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:28-30)
Jesus is saying, “Give and I will outgive you. My generosity is beyond your sacrifice. I overpay My servants and generally leave leftovers.” But still we doubt and disbelieve Him. Like God’s people in history, we’re forgetful and therefore reluctant givers. So God poses a challenge:
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10)
We Are The People
But our mental debate with God continues, “God are you really saying, ‘Trust me and give?’” Jesus answers, “Yes…
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)
We overcome zero-sum game thinking by seeing the riches and generosity of our God. No, He doesn’t make all Christians healthy, wealthy, and wise. But Jesus does free us from the anxiety, fear, and worry over money that are customary for people who don’t know God. Remember how Jesus said, “The Gentiles — the people who don’t know the true God — seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:32)
He is our security.
We are the people who have a heavenly Father! He is our security. So we don’t need to seek security in money because in God we trust. Instead, we’re invited to seek something better:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Jesus wants to replace our anxiety with activity, our fear with faith, and our worry with worship. When we trust “all these things will be added to you” we’re freed up to focus on His kingdom. Our main business becomes our Master’s business, no matter what we do for work. We can live as the people of God who aim to advance God’s kingdom. And isn’t that so much better than worrying about money anyway?