Is there something that you could give to someone that is better than money? I’m going to continue from some of our thoughts from our previous two little lessons where we were talking about wealth, riches and righteousness.
I want to share something with you today that might be a little bit surprising to you. If not surprising, at least it might provoke your thinking a little bit to look at giving in a little different way than perhaps you’ve ever looked at it before.
The Blessing of Microcredit
The ministry that I’m so blessed to be the founder and director of, Heaven’s Family, works in about 40 countries, and we’re involved in lots of projects trying to do as much good as we possibly can, and one of the main things that we’re doing around the world is the establishing of Christian micro-banks. We’ve got a certain method that we use.
In a nutshell, we lend money to people that we trust, and they in turn lend smaller amounts of money to people whom they trust, and with that money they start small businesses and begin to prosper.
It works beautifully and we’ve learned a lot over the years as to how to be the most effective in making those kinds of loans. It’s called microcredit, and what a blessing it is.
Getting Some Capital for the First Time
When I’ve been involved in meeting with our micro-bankers, of which I think we have close to 100 at this point in time scattered around 14 different countries, I want to encourage them that what they’re doing on our behalf and on behalf of the kingdom of God is something that’s very praiseworthy.
And often these are people who are poor, particularly poor by Western standards, but they often are poor even by the standards in their own countries, and for the first time in their lives they’re getting their hands on a little sum of money which they can use for good, some capital that they can invest.
As far as the micro-bank is concerned, investing in the lives of small stake entrepreneurs, and the end borrowers investing in agricultural businesses like buying a couple of pigs and feeding them and taking care of them, and then selling them for a profit, or growing corn or something like that.
Five General Ways to Get Money For Yourself
So I explain to our micro-bankers that I can think of essentially five general ways that you can get money for yourself, and all of them, I think we can judge them based on how well they fulfill the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, starting with the lowest on the ladder.
Here’s a way you can get money: you can steal. Now, how does that fit the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself? It doesn’t fit at all. You’re not loving your neighbor at all. You’re taking from your neighbor what he or she gained, we assume by his or her hard work, and in essence you’re saying to that person, “You are my slave. You work for me. I don’t work. You work for me, and I get the benefit and you don’t,” and so there’s no love for your neighbor at all in stealing. Everybody always nods their heads when I say this.
I then say, “Well, here’s the next step. This is a step above the step I just gave you. This is the next rung on the ladder. This one might surprise you. It might even hurt some of you. The next way to get money is by begging.”
Now, that is a step above stealing because at least the person who’s giving you money is willingly doing it, but still how does that fit into the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself? Well, you’re being a burden on your neighbor. Still you’re expecting your neighbor to work. He or she is kind of your slave.
“You work. You get money, and then I beg and you give it to me. I’m not performing any valuable service whatsoever that benefits anybody. I’m just a beggar.”
A lot of Christian leaders around the world, when they hear me say that, it kind of makes them quiet because they recognize that they’re beggars of sorts themselves. They’re always coming with their hand out looking for some free giveaway.
Getting Money and Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself
I said, “Let’s go to the next step, the next rung up on the ladder.” This is when you’re finally getting into loving your neighbor as yourself, when you use your God-given brain, your God-given muscles, your God-given opportunities to work so you can earn enough money to take care of your own needs so you’re not a burden on anyone else.
Now you’re walking in love because you’re not like the thief who expects other people to work and the thief benefits, or like the beggar who’s in the same category. You’re not a burden upon anybody, and this is contained in the scripture where Paul tells people to “work with your own hands that you won’t be a burden upon others,” (see 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12), so if you’re able to be self-supportive, then that’s great.
Well, the next step in love is to use your God-given brain, your God-given muscles, your God-given opportunities to earn enough where you can not only meet your own needs, but the needs of say, your family if you’re married. You’re taking care of your spouse. You’re taking care of your kids. That’s a praiseworthy thing. You’re working and you’re showing your love.
You’re earning more than you personally consume, so you’re able to provide for others. Let’s call that exactly what it is. It’s a praiseworthy thing that you are doing, and let’s go one step further in step number four. You’re using your brains and muscles and opportunities not only to take care of yourself and your own family, but you can also meet the needs of a widow or an orphan to categorize the people who generally can’t take care of themselves.
So you see, every one of these things is a step up in greater love. And it involves work, doesn’t it? It involves gain, doesn’t it? It involves using your muscles and your brains and your opportunities.
The Highest Way to Get Money and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Well, the highest step, the fifth step in this ladder that I share with our micro-bankers is to make them really feel good about what they’re about to do. It’s when you use your God-given brain and muscles and opportunities to make enough money that you can save some money and then invest that money in starting a business so that you can offer other people jobs to get them off of the first and second rung of thief and beggar to where they’re taking care of themselves, and they’re using their brains and their muscles to contribute.
They’re adding value, bringing value. That’s why they’re getting paid. Praise the Lord! Okay? So the highest level of love in my example to those micro-bankers is, you’re giving people opportunities. You’re not just giving them handouts. You’re giving them opportunities to prosper themselves, and that is better than giving somebody money.
What would you rather do if someone came to you with a need? Would you rather say to them, “Well, here, let me open my wallet and give you some money that’s going to take care of that need temporarily,” or would you rather say, “I’m an employer and I’ve got a job, and I could use your skills. You could be valuable to me. I’ll pay you to work for me”? That is a greater act of giving.
Well, that’s a new way of looking at things, isn’t it? It certainly is, and one that’s worth pondering today. Thanks so much for joining me on this little lesson. God bless you.