Give All You Can

What will you do once you achieve your financial dreams?

This is what Jesus has to say to a rich man, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  (Matthew 19:21)

If you worked all your life to be wealthy, this doesn’t sound right.  I mean, give away all that you worked for to be complete?

The bible says we have to give everything to be complete but the world today teaches the opposite. So, if you have great possessions, are you doomed to be incomplete?

Okay, before giving away all you have, let us examine what rich people have when Jesus spoke these words about 2000 years ago. They have lands, farms, livestock, crops, herds, servants and gold.

Today, rich people have lands, farms, livestock, crops, herds, butlers and maids, and hedge funds plus mansions, exotic cars, luxury yacht, private jet, private island and so on.

An average person today would own a house, a car, a smartphone, a computer and a wifi for posting pictures in Facebook.

Question: Are you willing to give up all these things to be complete?

Using my limited wisdom, I don’t think God wants us to literally sell all our possessions to be complete.  Depending on your vocation in life, this will determine your interpretation on the meaning of this verse.  A Benedictine monk can literally follow this teaching without any difficulty but for a family man, this is difficult to discern.

As a family man myself, my primary vocation is to be a good provider for my family.  I also have big dreams in life and one of them is to empower the next generation and leave a good legacy behind.  To be able to do this, I need resources and one of them are my possessions.

If you ask me, when your possessions are the reason why you could not follow God, that’s the time when you can never be complete.  If you are too attached to your material things, your possessions, you won’t have treasures in heaven.

For me, I chose to gain all I can, I choose to save all I can so I can give as much as I can.  If I keep all my possession for myself, I’m just building a wall that will eventually prevent me to see what is most important in my life.  Every time I give, a brick is removed from that wall and I begin to see the true beauty of life. I believe this is God’s purpose for me.

When you give, expect nothing in return.  Give with your whole heart and give cheerfully!

You give because you know it is the right thing to do.

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

What inspires me to give all I can to God is found in the book of Malachi.  In this book, God challenged the Israelites (all of us) to test Him. It says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:10-11)

By tithing, God opens the windows of heaven for us!  And there’s more — it guarantees the protection and preservation of what we are building here in earth!

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

There you go!

Don’t worry how much you will give, because the more you give, the more you will receive.

Earlier in my life, I was not a very generous person. I say this because true generosity is completely selfless.  I thought I am better off spending my money for myself rather than sharing it.  I was so attached with money.

True giving comes with no strings attached.  You focus on the needs of others while leaving your own desires behind.

Giving is not only about sharing your possessions. You can also share your time and talents.

In my case, I use my time and talent by blessing others through my blogs (considering it’s my birthday – Oct 22, I should be having a good time but instead I’m writing for you).  For more than 6 years, I’m very blessed to say that it has been a source of inspiration for many people around the world.

When you find fulfillment in giving using your time, talent and resources, your world will never be the same again.

A lot of people are terrified to give because giving requires you to take away something from yourself.  But you know what, I wish I could share something about the benefits of hoarding your wealth but I still have to find a person who have self-worth by being selfish.  Greedy people may have net worth but zero self-worth. They will never have contentment.

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”  (1 Timothy 6:6-7, 17-19)

Give all you can for God and everything will be added unto you!

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

May God open the windows of heaven and pour out His abundant blessings into your life until it overflows.

God is the greatest!

Save All You Can (Part 2)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

In my last article, I encouraged you to store treasures on earth by paying yourself first.  However, we should not stop there because that is only secondary. We must love God first then our neighbor as ourselves.

Investing for your financial security should be done side by side with investing for your spiritual security.  A good retirement here on earth is great but our ultimate goal is to have an awesome retirement in heaven.  Retirement on earth can only last for years.  Retirement in heaven is eternal.

Before anything, can I ask you something?  (I guess you have no choice) – How can you help people financially when you yourself have no money?  You can pray for them and give encouragement, but is that enough?

Through the years I have I learned that it’s not fun being poor especially when you care a lot.  I feel really bad when someone asks me for financial help and all I can do is to pray for them. I know God will send help to people who are in need but I find it more fulfilling when the help is channeled through me. James 2:17 says, “…Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

God gave us freewill to choose our actions and I believe with this freewill, He allowed us to choose what we can be.  We can – “be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.  It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8)

Being rich only in treasure is okay but, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25) 

We have to strive not only to be rich in treasure but also to be rich in our faith so we don’t forfeit ourselves.

How do we invest to grow our faith?

Be aware that investing to grow one’s faith is not about doing pious and religious works.  We are saved not by our faith alone or by works alone – we are saved by the grace of God. You reap the harvest of the good works you did while you are still living. It is my belief that when you die happy and fulfilled, it’s not far that you will continue to be happy after death.

My first rule in life is “Do no harm.”  If you love your neighbor as yourself, you are also loving God because you obey His commandment. When you obey God, you grow in your faith.

People make mistakes and fail in life. There will be situations when you will not be able to avoid harming others whether intentionally or unintentionally.  However, it’s important that you ask forgiveness to the people you have wronged simply because it is the right thing to do. In the Christian faith, forgiveness is essential.

When you forgive or when you ask forgiveness, you are putting a lump sum deposit in your “relationship account.”  Loving your neighbors is investing in your relationship.

Your nearest neighbor is your family – your mom, dad, brother, sister, wife and kids.

Your investment grows when you nourish your relationships through investing in great memories!

Investing in great memories can be as simple as dining outside, or walking in the park as a family, or if your family is far away, meeting them every day using technology like Face time.

Whatever you do, make sure you do the most essential part of being together – communicate with each other.  Share your dreams, talk about anything especially the things that will make you laugh.  Remove all the distractions during bonding time like cellphones and cellphones and did I mention cellphones?

Your gains will depend on how much you invest.  The words “how much” is not measured by how much money you spend but it is measured by how much you love.

Another way of saving for your spiritual retirement is through serving your community.

Although serving a community does not guarantee you a spot in heaven, it is a place where you can share, learn and grow your spirituality and your character.  Remember, not all who say’s “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of God.  Serving a community is great but the more important question is – did you love your neighbor?

When save all you can, you will find true gratification.

Contentment in life is when you say - “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  Your focus in life is for the Lord not to yourself.  More blessings are given to you because you care more.

Remember, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5)

Too often we fill ourselves with material things to fill a void or a need in our lives. Let us aim to have a deep and lasting happiness that always satisfies. This can only be achieved when our lives are centered to God and not on the things we have.

God will supply all of our needs.

Live humbly even in abundance.  Serve God and be content with what you have.

This is how you can save all you can.

Of course, no activity is enough without the grace of God.

Finally, let us follow the words of Paul the apostle, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

When you save all you can, you will multiply your ability to do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthen us.

If you think you are still poor and you have nothing to save, always remember this – “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

At the end of the day, if you think you did your best but your best is not good enough, don’t worry, there is no shortage on the grace of God and God’s grace is more than enough!

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

God is the greatest!

Save All You Can (Part 1)

In the book, the Richest Man in Babylon, it says – “pay yourself first.”

It interest me why the author used the word “pay” instead of using the word “save.” I guess by using the word “pay,” there is an obligation attached to it.

Saving is a huge challenge especially these days. In our world of consumerism, immediate gratification is more popular than deferred gratification simply because the second one requires immediate sacrifice.

Some of you may ask; how can I save if I have nothing to save?

It’s sad when Filipino’s abroad have this mindset. Isn’t it the very reason you are working abroad or living abroad (like myself) is for us to have a better life? In my experience, if you are less than 3 to 4 years living abroad, paying yourself first can be a challenge because of many obligations. After 4 years, most of your obligations should already be settled and, you should be able to save. I understand the continuous need of helping others but who’s going to help you when you grow old?

No matter how rewarding immediate gratification is, everyone must be aware that people live longer nowadays. If you do not have enough resources when you reach your age of 70, enjoyment can stop at that age. Would you want that to happen to you?

To avoid this from happening, you need to sacrifice temporarily for deferred gratification.

There are two ways to do this. The first is paying yourself first financially. The second is investing time, talent and treasure to grow your spirituality.

To save all you can, I personally follow this simple rule – Love God, love your neighbor as yourself.

First, let’s talk about loving yourself.

Part of loving yourself is thinking about what future brings you. What do you want your future to be? Do you want to live a fulfilled life, a normal life, or a mediocre life?

People who live a fulfilled life are those who give a lot and share a lot to prosper their own life and lives of others. These people are the ones who end up living a longer life and a life of abundance. Why is this?

Shouldn’t one be losing more because you give more?

The scripture says the more you give the more you will receive. Luke 6:38 says, “Give and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” I will talk more about this on my next blog.

Part of loving yourself is making sure that you are financially secured especially when you’re old and with no more sources of income. One way of making sure this happens, force yourself to pay yourself first.

When you pay yourself first, you multiply your power to do more in life. Let me show you the numbers.

In the scriptures, Joseph told the Pharaoh of Egypt to prepare for the seven years of famine by saving 20 percent (a fifth of the produce of the land – Genesis 41:34) of their harvest.

What this means is, force yourself to pay yourself 20% percent of your income before paying for anything. Anything means, paying your mortgage, paying your car, paying your credit card, and so on.

The conventional advice is to aim to save 10 percent. Why 10 percent? This is how much Abraham gave to Melchizedek, king of Salem, after blessing him for his victories (see Genesis 14:20c).

Let’s say you are 40 years old and you earn $1,000 each month. If you start saving 10 percent of your income each month, which is $100, by the time you reach 65, your total savings will be $30,000, assuming that you hid your money under your bed and no termite ate it.

What if you place your money is in a bank that gives you a hefty 3 percent interest compounding? The estimated growth of your savings becomes $45,000. It makes a huge difference by placing your money in the bank. But still, the end result of saving 10 percent is none too exciting.

Let’s use the same factors but this time we use the scriptural version of saving 20 percent. By the time you are 65 years old, your money in the bank will have an estimated growth of around $90,000. Saving 20 percent opens up opportunities to do more fun things. At 30 percent, it becomes really exciting.

It is not three times as hard to save 30 percent, as it is to save 10 percent. In some cases, it’s easier. Why? Saving 30 percent is more rewarding. If you are a person who loves to reward yourself, saving more is doing more. But if you want to have that cash flow without hurting your savings, 10 percent is enough. Let me show you how.

Again, using the same factors of saving 10 percent of your income but this time you invested your money earning a consistent 8 percent per year compounding interest. By the time you reach age 65, the total estimate of your money will be… roll the drums please… $95,000 (not bad). This is more than saving 20 percent.

Nowadays, an investment portfolio with an 8 or even 12 percent returns is plausible. However, you may have some sleepless nights because of the risk involved but it is doable.

Just a word of caution especially when seeking for high returns – do your due diligence. Invest based on your beliefs and ask for guidance from qualified professionals. Many scammers will be out there to offer you consistent profits through very attractive rates. If you are one of the many individuals who are trying to catch up your savings for your retirement, you can easily be tempted to do something that may result in regretting it for the rest of your life.

Remember, whatever you save today is for your future. Do not risk it.

Please note that the example I just gave you uses constant returns and it does not consider market fluctuations.

At this point, I would like to end the first part of my blog. I did not write about loving God and loving your neighbor yet because I want you to read the boring part first. The great stuff is saved for last and I want to keep it suspense until next week!

God is the greatest!