Is it OK to be spoiled by God? Does He really want to spoil me lavishly or is it more spiritual and godly to have less – or at least not even think about, much less, want more? It’s an inner struggle I’ve had many years.
PENNIES FROM GOD
The tipping point in understanding that God WANTS to spoil me came as I recalled an incident a couple of weeks ago on a large family vacation. What I’m about to share has a part in a greater lesson that God is currently teaching me regarding receiving His gifts. My lesson started several months ago… with a penny. Soon, pennies showed up everywhere, in odd places too.
My latest penny lesson recently occurred in Gatlinburg, TN. As my family was roaming through the aquarium located there, I pushed my way through a crowd of kids in blue shirts excitedly shopping in the gift shop. Suddenly I became aware of a little voice saying, “Miss! Miss!”, along with a tug on my purse. As I turned around, there stood an adorable little boy wearing a blue VBS shirt from a church. He was obviously with the large group of kids who had overrun the store. He looked up at me, no more than 6 or 7 years old, and held up his hand, palm up and open. Smack in the center of his palm was a penny. My heart stopped. He looked at me and said, “Can you buy me something? All I have is a penny.”
Throughout my life, I accepted what I had without much thought. Living with a C’est La Vie attitude, whatever will be, will be. However, the “whatever” has always been just enough to get by, including playing the in-and-out of debt game. Oh, I’ve been able to enjoy vacations and decent clothes and sufficient food. Compared to other nations, I live like a queen. Compared to the inhabitants of my high cost-of-living city, I’m barely middle class.
But I’ve been thinking about how I think about money and God’s Father heart towards me. As I’ve been learning from more mature Believers, I am now faced with considering how I view money and God’s blessings. Afterall, God has many blessings to give His children, including me. But are my beliefs about money and benefits, in general, hindering my ability to receive the promises of God?
MINISTERS SHOULD BE POOR?
I grew up as the daughter of a Baptist pastor. Whether we like or not, there is a certain expectation for pastors and ministers of the gospel regarding finances. They certainly shouldn’t have too many worldly possessions. Afterall, the gospel is free, so those who share the gospel should give it away for free (I’ll address this in a different post).
I grew up believing that it was a pastor’s duty to receive little pay. (Interestingly, this is not what the Bible says. We are to give honor and a double portion to our pastors and teachers!)
Everyone in the church that I knew was middle class. Average homes, average clothes, average incomes. On my dad’s meager pastor’s salary, our 1,300 SF home – with blue carpet and an avocado green kitchen – was situated in one of the newest lower middle-class neighborhoods on the edge of the city. It was the age of “cookie cutter” homes. Everyone on the street had the same house, except for the 2-story model homes situated here and there between the popular ranch homes.
We had a nice enough home – no complaints on my part – and there was always plenty of food. My mother either made our clothes or we shopped at discount stores. Name brands were out of the question. It never occurred to me to even wish for more than we had. I’m glad I grew up this way. Sort of. I learned to appreciate what we had, but…I also didn’t learn to believe for more – in my mind, that was considered selfish and ungodly.
UNDESERVING OF GIFTS
I remember one year, my great aunt came for a visit and took my sister and me shopping. She wanted to buy us a pair of sneakers for school. I wanted so bad to have a pair of Nikes! So Aunt Myrna bought my first pair of Nikes (and one of my only) despite my mother’s sigh and awkward look on her face. We were not used to spending more than $10-15 for shoes usually found at Payless or the Yellow Front, and here Aunt Myrna paid $60 (on sale)!! I was ecstatic, but also carried slight feelings of guilt for owning something so costly. Like we didn’t deserve such extravagance. (That’s actually pride to think we have to deserve a gift. God tells us to DESIRE gifts.)
Somewhere along the way, I subconsciously believed pastors, missionaries, and Christians were supposed to have less as a sign of godliness.
EARLY THOUGHTS SET THE STAGE
For me, having money was unimaginable and not to be desired. I considered other families, who had larger incomes, to be a different breed of folks to be admired. Access through a community gate in a neighborhood where my friend lived made me feel extra special. I’d give my friend’s name at the guard house and I felt like royalty when the minimum-wage security officer waved me through. Their neighborhood had a nice swimming pool. The neighbors, who would let us come over often, owned a Mercedes, the lady had a fur coat, and they were the only people I knew with a giant screen tv (you know the first ones that came out with large, colored bulbs that projected onto a big screen?). I would stare at the massive screen and just knew I would never know what it was like to have that kind of money.
And that was my problem: I believed I didn’t have the right to consider such a lifestyle.
My subtle thought that I didn’t deserve anything nice limited my potential from an early age. Average was my destiny.
GOD IS A DOTTING FATHER
Unknowingly, I carried “average” thoughts into my adulthood. I never expected more than just getting by. If I did receive something, I usually gave it away – thinking it my Christian duty to do so. I’m not saying that is a bad thing. Actually, that IS the heart of the Father. Yet, I was missing the part that God IS A FATHER and HE WANTS TO GIVE ME GOOD THINGS TOO, and I don’t have to do anything to deserve it.
In trying to understand this concept, I thought of my role as a mother. I have one son. I receive so my joy in doing extraordinary things for him. Creating a good work ethic and responsibility regarding finances is my utmost priority, but the moment I can spoil my son, I do…because I love him and it brings me so much joy. He doesn’t have to jump through hoops for me to desire to give him good gifts.
If God is a better parent than I am – then why wouldn’t He also want to spoil me like I enjoy spoiling my son?
Oh, but that excludes money. Does it?
Money is a sign of greed. Is it?
Our concept of greed can be skewed at times. Someone can be poor and LOVE money, and someone can be wealthy and know that money is a tool and use it well. I’ve long struggled with my perception of wealth. I am reprogramming how I view money.
BLESSED OR ARROGANT
- I struggle with thinking that some preachers are arrogant when they talk about their money.
- I’m guilty of questioning motives of some teachers of God’s Word who have big homes, planes, and nice cars.
But I wonder how much of that is based on jealousy or a wrong view regarding God’s blessings? Sure, there are crooks out there – no doubt. But why attribute that attitude to every preacher or Christian with wealth?
As I was listening to Jesse Duplantis last night (that man makes me laugh harder than anyone else), these thoughts started creeping in:
- Preachers shouldn’t make that much money.
- Why’s he talking about all his stuff
- He’s bragging, etc…
You know what? I’ve listened to Jesse many times. I’ve watched the tremendous blessing he is to others, I love his joy. I see the quality of friends and associates he has – and when he preaches the Word of God, it is always right on. So instead of allowing those thoughts a place in my head last night, I shifted them and thought: “If God loves to spoil Jesse Duplantis that much, then why not me?”
God wants to spoil me, like a doting Father.
When I look at Jesse Duplantis I see a man who loves to be spoiled by God and loves to spoil others with the same enthusiasm!
TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE
Back to my penny story, how in the world did this little boy with a penny pick me out of a store crammed with people? My heart was torn. Somewhere in my life, I had learned that it was bad to give things to strangers. Even so, I have given to people many times, but it always came with an internal struggle. What do I do? Am I spoiling this child if I give him something? Would his parents disapprove? But maybe his family doesn’t have any money? Am I teaching him to beg or be irresponsible? The thoughts were swirling so fast, and I started to stutter. Finally, I made up my mind to bless this child. I opened my wallet, handed him a $10 bill, and he joyfully ran off.
ASK TO BE SPOILED
At first, I felt good inside for helping this little boy, patting myself on the back. But let me just say this: I wish I had given him more. I believe God was trying to teach me how much He loves blessing and SPOILING His children! I gave that little boy less than what was in my mind. That little boy was happy with what I gave him, but I still gave him less than what God wanted to give him. My joy turned to sadness as I had not obeyed fully. With that being said, next time I’ll be ready to joyfully give entirely when God asks me to!
I realized how much joy there is in giving abundantly, and being PREPARED to give!
I get why Jesse Duplantis and these other ministers love it when God pours out great resources to them – they love giving it away! That moment in the aquarium with the little boy has changed my focus. I’m now eager to receive multiple blessings because I’m hooked…I want to give it away. That was so much fun! Even better, I usually don’t have cash in my wallet, but I happened to and was so thankful that I was ABLE to give to that little boy. I was prepared. I was ready. God can’t ask us to bless others if we are not first ABLE and PREPARED to do so.
The greatest joy isn’t to RECEIVE a blessing, but to BE a blessing.
I also learned another thing:
God likes it when we ask for good gifts!
Don’t you think it makes God smile when we ASK Him for good gifts? I was so proud of the courage in that little boy to ask a stranger for a gift. He wasn’t afraid or ashamed. As a result, he received what he asked for!
The Bible TELLS us to ASK. There is so much God wants to give me (and you)! I’m not talking about loving money and desiring it for money’s sake. Love the Father, the blessings He wants to give, and the things you and I can do with the gifts He so richly provides!
MONEY IS A SMALL BLESSING
The richest gifts God has for us are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If I can not receive that which is considered to be “least of all” by my Father, then how can I receive the greater gifts of the Spirit?
Something to ponder….this post is already too long. But don’t take my word for it…get into the Word of God for yourself and see how great it is to be spoiled by God!