by Evan Keller
Obviously, it was “all about me” with the “rich fool” (from Luke 12:15-21) we discussed in the previous post; let’s flip now to one whose heart was all about God. We’re jumping from the New Testament to the Old, from a fictional character to a historic one.
King David was much richer in wealth, fame, and power than the nameless “rich man” in Christ’s parable. Yet he saw those accomplishments for what they were: gifts of grace from God. On the other hand, the “rich man” couldn’t see past his inflated view of himself. He didn’t even acknowledge God. Twice in his psalms, David wrote: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). And “fool” is precisely what God calls the “rich man” upon his death in Christ’s parable. Conversely, God called David “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22).
Everything Comes from You Lord
Old Testament scholar Christopher Wright explains: “David’s example of putting his personal wealth into the temple project (1 Chronicles 29:2-5) motivates the rest of the leaders to do the same (29:6-8), which then seems to motivate the rest of the people in turn” (29:9). (Christopher Wright, The Righteous Rich in the Old Testament) He prays in disbelief: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14).
David was a faithful shepherd of his father’s sheep before being anointed as shepherd over all of God’s people. Leadership, wealth, power – they can certainly shape your character for good or ill, but mostly they magnify what is already there. Success doesn’t make or break character; but rather reveals it. As Dave Ramsey puts it: “Whatever you are – good or bad – is going to get bigger when you add wealth to the mix.” (Dave Ramsey, The Legacy Journey: A Radical of Biblical Wealth and Generosity)
Consider Carefully Your Ways
In the bible passage we looked at in the last post from Haggai, he twice says, “consider carefully your ways.” We can begin doing so by examining whether we are more like a biblical character whose top priority was building bigger barns for himself or the one building God’s Temple for His glory? Which “rich guy” are you?
I ask myself these questions as I build a beautiful new home for my family. Specifically, I wonder what light the salaries of our 20 employees shed on these questions. Are we sharing enough of the rewards of the business? Am I reflecting these verses in Jeremiah, “He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is this not what it means to know Me?” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 22, 15b-16)
One night I was reading the Lausanne Movement article entitled “Wealth Creation: Biblical Views and Perspectives” (Lausanne Movement & BAM Global, 2017) which interpreted Moses’ command “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain” Deuteronomy 25:4) to mean that the rewards of business should be shared with employees. That same night I flipped open Small Giants and read Bo Burlingham advising me to show employees that I care in a completely unexpected way, by doing “something no other company would ever dare to do”. I went to bed praying and wondering what we could do at Tree Work Now Inc to follow these two similar strands of wisdom. At midnight, as soon as my head hit the pillow: shazam! It came to me: “I’m building a house for my wife and I; why can’t I help my employees buy a house of their own?! I can match the savings of high-performing employees so that they can afford a down payment and begin building stability and wealth for their families.” So, this new benefit will match $2,000 per year of an employee’s savings, with a maximum benefit of $10,000 over five years of strong performance reviews. And it should increase employee longevity and loyalty as well – a win-win. I could hardly sleep from excitement!
In this series I’ve been reflecting on stories. First the story of Josue and Don who used their talents and entrepreneurial gifts to steward resources, multiply wealth and bless others. Then the cautionary tale from Jesus about the rich fool, teaching us that it’s not the ability to produce wealth that is the problem, but our heart-motivation and attitude towards God. Contrast that with King David, who, though he made mistakes, was a man after God’s heart who used his wealth to serve God’s purposes. And along the way I’ve also shared some of my own journey of discovering more about what the bible says about wealth, and stewarding my resources and position as a small business owner.
In the next and final post, I’ll share some questions I’ve developed for myself to help me direct my heart towards God as I steward the time, talents and treasure he’s given me.
Excerpted from Evan’s new book
The Heart of Wealth: Spreading God’s Joy
Available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.
Evan Keller has been married to his beloved wife Karen of 25 years – a former nurse who’s a creative cook and baker. In addition to escaping to the mountains, they enjoy life in DeLand, Florida which is near to their 14 nieces and nephews. Evan is a University of Central Florida graduate, an ordained minister, a member of: Rotary, NAACP, and Christ Community Church in Daytona Beach. Evan is addicted to playing basketball, and dabbles in off-road biking, paddling, and mountain backpacking to experience God in the splendor of His Creation. At work, Evan co-leads talented teams at two ventures he founded to leverage business for good: the nonprofit Creating Jobs Inc and the for-profit Tree Work Now Inc. Creating Jobs Inc equips global nonprofits to develop entrepreneurs using its two step-by-step 350-page business training books entitled StartBook and GrowBook. Evan is the lead author of these resources which are printed in many languages and used in several countries, and has more recently authored The Heart of Wealth: Spreading God’s Joy. Tree Work Now Inc develops its 25 employees both personally and professionally and creates exceptional value for 1,000 customers every year while increasing the health, safety, and beauty of their trees.
To enquire about Creating Jobs, StartBook, GrowBook or to connect with Evan, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.