As Christians, we embrace change. Our faith changes us, leading us to turn from our own way to the redemptive life found in Christ. In Ephesians Paul writes, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV).
Change is a fact of life. The future is difficult to predict because anything can happen. A strong economy may turn weak. Our health may fade. Family members may need financial assistance. How does one plan for an uncertain future? How can we determine how much will be enough?
Remember Jimmy Dean? He was a country gospel singer popular in the ’60s with songs like “Big Bad John.” He was also an actor and hosted his own variety show. Others know him from the popular breakfast sausage.
As his career as a performer began to wane, Jimmy shifted his focus to the sausage company that he founded with his brother and became the pitchman in national television ads. Even though he passed away in 2010, his voice is still heard today in the company ads.
Jimmy was a man of faith and professed it openly. Blessed by God with a career that spanned decades, he donated $1 million to the university in his hometown of Plainview, Texas. He was familiar with the tides of change and once said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Like Jimmy Dean, we have all been blessed to lesser or greater degrees. Recognizing God’s gifts, we ask the question—how much is enough? This can be a tough question to answer, knowing that circumstances can change. Of course, prudence teaches us to save and put away for a rainy day, but at some point we may surpass what we will truly need.
How Much Do You Need?
Is $1 million sufficient? Perhaps $2 million? More or less? Here is an interesting question: What is the true value of money if it is set aside but never needed? If the ability to use the money is what gives it value, then is there any value in accumulating beyond what can be personally used?
In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus gives an example of a man who accumulated wealth beyond his ability to use it—beyond his personal need. The end was not pretty. Whereas in Romans 12:1-8, the Bible also shows us a valid reason to accumulate wealth—to exercise the gift of giving.
Paul includes the ability to give as an important spiritual gift among the body of believers. He begs us to present our bodies—the housing of our natural giftedness—“as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God.” (Romans 12:1, CEV). Embracing this gift means that when we have more than we personally need, it is better than OK—it is an opportunity to serve faithfully in God’s Kingdom.
We can navigate our way through change. We can set our sail and adjust it with the winds. While there is an upper limit of what we can personally use, there is never an upper limit to what we can use for ministry purposes, to exercise our gift of giving.