How much is enough? We live in a society that measures success in terms of dollars. Professional identity is important in building social status because it goes along with wealth and power.
Even in churches, people are viewed in terms of their accomplishments, as the rich members tend to be in leadership, while more blue collar ones tend to be marginalized. It’s human nature.
Nothing is ever enough
I once knew an owner of an Indy Car team, and not just any team, but one that dominated the league and won countless races over a long span of years. What an operation. Everything was first class and professional.
But the one thing I observed about this owner is that nothing was ever enough. When his team won a race, he’d immediately start working on the next race and did not take time to celebrate.
Of course, there would be a brief celebration in victory circle, but the glory of winning was soon forgotten and his focus was on the next event. This process was repeated many times and I actually began to feel sorry for the man. He couldn’t enjoy it. So driven to win, he never took time to relax.
What has value for us?
Determining how much is enough is directly associated with self image, ego. Driven people derive value from the identity of a winner. He who has the most toys wins, that sort of thing. The Apostle Paul had a completely different take on success. He too was driven, driven to serve Christ. His identity was in the Lord:
Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. (Philippians 1:20-26)
No problem with success
There is nothing wrong with success. A dear friend once told me of a man who had an excavating business. He said the man decided one day to tithe to his church, to give 10 percent of his income to the ministry.
That was not too painful, so he eventually decided to increase that giving to 20 percent, then 30 percent and so on. At one point, that last time I heard anything, he was living off 10 percent of his income and living rather well.
But the sum of money given is not the issue, it is the heart of the individual giving. You cannot outspend God. You cannot match His wealth. Everything you have to give was given to you by God. But there are massive offerings that get God’s attention.
Widow contributes everything!
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
Jesus had nothing and wanted nothing
Those trying to impress God with their giving must remember that Jesus did not have a job, a home, or any money at all. The sins of the world were cast upon the shoulders of a homeless man, who offered the love and grace of God.
Jesus had nothing, and wanted nothing, so he couldn’t be bought off. The riches of men did not impact Him in any way. He was above corruption. We all too often lose sight of His remarkable lifestyle. He was all about serving, not taking.
How much is enough? That you’ll have to search your heart for.