To be honest, until asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior at age 32 my treasures were my family, career, athletic successes, relationships, home, car and bank account (although not too big at that time). My treasure certainly was not God or in looking to be “rich toward God.” I was blessed to have wonderful parents who loved and encouraged me to work hard, to treat others well and to be a person who consistently demonstrated good character. We did attend church and I learned a lot about God but never understood that I could actually have a relationship with Him. One thing we rarely ever discussed was giving. I think it was like the old phrase, “You should never discuss religion, money or politics with people.”
After coming to Christ I was blessed to take a Crown Ministry Class that began to totally change my attitudes about treasure and how I handled God’s money. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Following those verses, the Life Application Study Bible explains, “Storing up treasures in heaven is not limited to tithing but is accompanied by all acts of obedience to God. There is a sense in which giving to God’s work is like investing in heaven. But our intention should be to seek the fulfillment of God’s purposes in all we do, not merely what we do with our money.”
Bible verses have reminded me that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17), that Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6-8) and that I need to keep my life free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5), to share just a few of God’s thoughts about money. I was also blessed to have some models of generosity who redefined how I looked at it. One of those friends challenged my wife and I to begin tithing and actually said, “If you cannot pay your bills I will make up the difference.” Another shared how they had been intentional about increasing their giving by 1% each year for a number of years and were now giving substantially above their tithe—and doing it cheerfully.
Their example helped changed how my wife and I respond to opportunities to give to God’s kingdom work. We just kind of laugh and smile when realizing that what we give to Convoy of Hope’s One Day to Feed the World offering is more than we gave to the church annually in our early years of marriage. We realize everything we have is indeed a gift from God, and we wish to use it for his honor and glory.
In John Ortberg’s book, It All Goes Back in the Box, he finishes the first chapter with a list of “What It Means to Be Rich Toward God.” These include:
- Being rich toward God means learning about your gifts and passions and doing good work to help improve the world.
- Being rich toward God means becoming generous with your stuff.
- Being rich toward God means that which is temporary becomes the servant of that which is eternal.
I know that I desire to be rich toward God. I am thankful that God has transformed my heart and freed me from a love of money. I am incredibly thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made for me, and I pray that I am a good manager of the money he has entrusted to me.
Yet we can also be generous in how we support the youngest generations. At the end of John Maxwell’s book, Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters, he encourages us to be more intentional with helping children, stating, “I believe it is impossible to be too intentional in helping children.” He encourages us to invest our time, talents and treasure so that we add value to people of the next generation.
This summer, our North Central Church family is providing us with an opportunity to support and advance our children through the “In This Together” campaign. As a dad, Papa and long-time elementary educator, one of the greatest blessings of my life has been to invest in the lives of children. I encourage you to find a way to invest in children that honors our heavenly Father, whether it is through this campaign or in a unique way God is calling you to.
Everything we have is a gift from God, and we must remember to seek the fulfillment of God’s purposes in all we do. What better way to do that than by devoting our generosity to the future of the church: God’s youngest generations.
Here are some books tied to this topic:
The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn
Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters by John C. Maxwell
AUTHORED BY RICH PARISI, ASSISTANT PASTOR & LEGACY, NORTH CENTRAL CHURCH