Summary: part 4 of 4 in a series about being great with our possessions
April 28, 2013
Stephen King is the author of 49 suspense and horror novels that have sold over 350 million copies. You may not know that about 10 years ago he almost lost his life. He was walking along a country road in Maine, and a van hit him and knocked him into a ditch. His legs were so crushed the doctors considered amputating them, but eventually did not. Since that time, he's now an outspoken advocate of generosity
I want to read an excerpt from a speech he gave to the graduates of Vassar College. This is part of what he said in his commencement address ~
I found out what "you can't take it with you" means. I found out while I was lying in the ditch at the side of a country road covered with mud and blood and with the tibia of my right leg poking out the side of my jeans, like a branch of a tree taken down in a thunderstorm. I had a Master Card in my wallet, but when you're lying in a ditch with broken glass in your hair, no one accepts Master Card. We all know that life is ephemeral, but on that particular day and in the months that followed, I got a painful but extremely valuable look at life's simple backstage truths.
We come in naked and broke. We may be dressed up when we go out, but we're just as broke. Warren Buffet is going to go out broke. Bill Gates is going out broke. Tom Hanks is going out broke. Steve King, broke, not a crying dime. All the money you earn, all the stocks you buy, all the mutual funds you trade, all of that is mostly smoke and mirrors. So I want you to consider making your life one long gift to others. And why not? All you have is on loan anyway. All that lasts is what you pass on. We have the power to help, the power to change. And why should we refuse? Because we're going to take it with us? Oh, please.
Right now we have the power to do great good for others. So I ask you to begin giving and to continue as you began. I think you'll find in the end that you got far more than you ever had and did more good than you ever dreamed.
Those are great words from Stephen King. But they are only words. What do they mean for us? What does it mean to be generous? Listen to these words from Paul in 2 Corinthians 9 ~
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”
11 You will be enriched in every way – – to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Now, Paul is talking about an offering that’s being collecting for the church in Jerusalem, so, he’s referring to money. But I want to point out that this extends through all of life. Money is just one aspect of generosity. Last week, we looked at the many ways other than money, in which we can be generous.
You see, money captures us and we believe, as Stephen King did, that it can buy life. The power of money enables us to have lots of idols. When you think about it,
We worship pleasure and comfort.
We worship security and protection.
We worship honor, fame, and prestige.
We worship experiences – vacations, trips, meals.
We worship independence, don’t tell me what to do.
And money is the tool that enables it all. Now, none of that is bad, but when it becomes our driving force, it is bad. It moves us away from God and generosity.
Again, Paul said, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” – 1 Timothy 6:10
The pull of money is strong, and can act like a raging current like those we saw in the recent floods and drag us away from the call of the gospel. Remember, money is not evil, it’s good and it’s necessary — BUT the love of money, which controls us, that is the root of leading us into evil. And it can lead us away from faith and cause a great deal of trouble and hardship.