A Heavenly Recompense

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Lk. 14:12-14

When was the last time that you made a dinner or a supper and invited in the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to eat of your goods? If you have, blessed are you.

But notice specifically that Jesus is concerned here that we do not seek after worldly recompense in the good that we do. On the contrary, we are to have an eye for a heavenly recompense, at the resurrection of the just. On that day, God will reward those who did not seek to be repaid here on earth.

But, pray, can a Christian desire worldly recompense rather than the heavenly one? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. More times than I can count, I have done good to someone and, if they did not thank me or take notice of it, I felt bad about it. That was the flesh, demanding worldly recompense and leading me to forfeit my heavenly reward.

Walking in the will of God is not a matter of one simply believing in Christ; more importantly, it is about one denying self and taking up their cross and following Christ. The Bible tells us that the flesh wars against the Spirit, and that if we side with it we cannot do the will of God in our lives. And for this reason, therefore, the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16-17)

It tells us that if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Have you noticed how we hunger for earthly recompense, including being thanked, noticed, praised and repaid back? The flesh demands worldly recompense. It demands to be paid in kind right here on earth. It has no heavenly agenda, for it is not of heaven.

But when the cross is at work in our lives, we “kill” these kinds of attitudes. We begin to care more about the only thing that really matters: the heavenly recompense. One day we will stand before God and be recompensed for the things that we did here on earth for which no man could repay us back.

It is in the light of this revelation that we can understand and appreciate Jesus’s other teachings.

“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Mat. 5:42)

In Lk. 6:30, Jesus made that even clearer.

Give to every man that asketh of thee…”

Give to every man. I overheard one brother say that he does not give money to street beggars. He had a grudge against what he called their “laziness”. But, in this scriptures, street beggars fall right in the middle of “every man that asketh of thee”.

Jesus went on to qualify His statements:

“32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” (Lk. 6:32-34)

Notice the word “thank” there. What was Jesus talking about here? He was referring to the heavenly recompense. One day, God will thank you in a way no man could.

The heavenly stakes are incredibly high. But, again, it can only be that one is truly fighting the good fight of faith that they can do these things. The spiritual man/woman does not need to be recompensed in the natural.

It Pleased Them!

25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. Rom. 15:25-26

This morning, my mind is on the subject of giving – again! The scripture above tears at my heart.

First aways, notice the singular form of ministry mentioned in this scripture. It is the ministry of giving to the poor. It is not stated that Paul went to preach in Jerusalem. The purpose of his journey to Jerusalem was to deliver the Gentile churches’ contribution to the poor saints there. Whether he preached or not is not our subject here.

But the thing that sends my heart racing with excitement is the second part of this passage of the Bible. The Bible says it pleased the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to make a contribution for the saints in Jerusalem.  It pleased them! Wow, the beauty of that!!

There is nothing as beautiful as something that is done from the heart. It is so powerful it reaches the ureachable parts of the heart. For this reason, the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:7:

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

God loves a cheerful giver!

God loves things that are done with a willing heart. God loves a purposeful heart. To demonstrate this, God has even taken people who were terrible sinners and changed them and put them to serve Him mightily. They were men and women who were willing to do things from the heart. Chief amongst these is the Apostle Paul himself (1 Tim. 1:13-16).

No man in their right minds loves things that are half-done. With God, it is infinitely much less so.

As believers, we are to do things heartily. When you give, give heartily. Don’t allow your mind to pick nits and bits. Above all, do not count how many times you have given in the past. Give as if you have never given before!

In the same manner, when you forgive (for we are called to forgive whenever someone wrongs us) do so with a hearty heart. Don’t weigh the wrongs! Above all, do not count the former wrongs done to you by the person you are supposed to forgive.

Whatever we do, we are to do it heartily. In Ephesians 6:5-8, the Apostle Paul writes:

“5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”

Notice verse 6. Whether bond or free, we are to do things

“from the heart”!

From the heart. That’s not talking of any old heart. Rather, scripture here is talking of a willing and cheerful heart.

Giving For A Spiritual Reward

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:10-19

I love Paul’s singularly spiritual focus. The Bible says:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

The Apostle Paul had true faith. He did not see things that are seen, but rather, things that are unseen. He did not touch or talk of the substance of things that are seen but, rather, things that are hoped for!

In our key scripture, notice he talks of

fruit that may abound to your account.”

The sole reason that Paul rejoices over the Philippians giving is for the fruit that would abound to their account. So, what is the fruit, and what is the account? The fruit is no doubt spiritual fruit, and the account is a heavenly one. Jesus told the rich young ruler:

“If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Mat. 19:21)

Jesus did not talk of this world, nor of any hope in this world. He talked consistently about His Father’s heavenly Kingdom. When Paul, therefore, who was a follower of Jesus talks of “fruit” and “account” he is referring to these things in the Spirit.

On the contrary, when we are walking in the flesh, we think of and refer to these things in the natural. We think in terms of money, houses, lands,  jobs, promotion, marriage, children and all the other natural blessings that we can receive from God. And this is what the church is filled with today. Preachers are directing God’s people to these things instead of to the spiritual things. We serve God to receive natural rewards! Today, giving in church is all tied to receiving in the natural! But the Apostle Paul writes:

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19)!

If all we can see are the things of this world, the church cannot be said to be pleasing God because the Bible says that we can only please God when we are walking in faith and, as we just saw,

“…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith sees in the Spirit; the flesh does not. When we are spiritual, like Paul was, we can see and direct God’s people to a spiritual reward. Here in this world, we can see (in the Spirit) the grace that will be ours as a result of giving of our lives; and beyond that, we can have hope of a heavenly reward.

[When we see in the Spirit, it means we can see beyond the curve of time, literally]


A Heart For God’s People

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. Phil. 4:10-18

Ever heard of aliens? Well, there is no such thing as an alien. At least, that is my belief. But there is a new kind of ‘alien’ that we are going to learn about today.

During our recent regional CTMI conference (www.ctmi.org) in Dar es Salaam, the speaker, Brother Miki, quoting from 1 Peter 2:9 said, “A new race of people arose in the world when Jesus died and rose from the grave. A new race of people, saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. It is called the Christian race.”

I was sitting there and my mind was moving super-fast. I began thinking, This was a race that is not white, black, Asiatic, nor Arabic. You won’t find this race among all the races in the world. It will never be found there. It is a race of people that is alien to this world. It is indeed, as the scriptures say, a “peculiar people”.

It is in this light that we can appreciate Paul’s words in the scripture above. It is also in this light that I personally find it hard to count myself as a part of this peculiar race. How could I attempt to compare myself with this man who did something so unbelievably extraordinary?

And what is it, pray, that the Apostle Paul did that was so extraordinary?

The portion of scripture that answers this question is in verse 17:

“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”

Once you understand what Paul is saying here, you will understand that this was a man who was truly in a class of his own, spiritually speaking. In simple words, the apostle here is saying that he wanted the Philippians to give; but not for the reasons that many of us would be thinking of.

Paul had only one reason to want the Philippians to continue giving. The reason he rejoiced for their giving, he says, was because

“I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (v. 17)

The reason I say I am not in Paul’s league is because  whenever I have a need I always think of the shortest way to have that need met. And if a brother or sister comes to my aid, I will tell them, “God bless you”. But more often than not my “God bless you” is my selfish way of saying, “Thank God the need has been met” rather than a sincere desire to see the brother or sister blessed in the Spirit.

But God’s sacrificial love is revealed in the Apostle’s life in two ways here. In the first place, even though Paul had needs, he did not think of himself in time of receiving. On the contrary, he thought about the giver. He rejoiced, not on his account, but on their account. He rejoiced, not because he was receiving, but because they would be receiving!

Secondly, the Apostle Paul desired spiritual blessings for God’s people. He rejoiced because he knew that as they gave materially, they would be receiving spiritually.

Today many preachers will tell you to give in order that you might receive a material reward in return. I heard one preacher say, “If you do not pay your tithes, you will not be fed!” Fed, presumably by God. Wow!!

Today, the Name of God is blasphemed all over the world because of preachers of the gospel who do not have a heavenly agenda. A preacher who only has an earthly agenda is the most dangerous living thing alive. Seriously. This man or woman will take God’s people down the road of destruction for he or she will show them only how to prosper materially. Moreover, all he or she is thinking is how he can gain from them. He does not have their spiritual interests at heart.

But the Apostle Paul had the spiritual interests of God’s people at heart. And it is here, in this scripture, that God’s heart for His people is revealed: it is a heart that desires for us to get hold of the heavenly vision, and a heavenly reward, not an earthly one.

Our God – A Humble God

1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Mt. 6:1-4

When the great actress, Joan Crawford, was about to die from a heart attack, it is reported that her housekeeper knelt by her side and began to pray for her. At which Crawford snarled at her, “Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”

And yet, this was a woman whom God had blessed with almost everything this world had to offer: beauty, talent, wealth and fame. At the time of her death in 1977, her estate was worth an estimated $2m.

By the time Crawford arrived at the end of her life’s journey at the grand age of 73, she had physically soaked in tons and tons of sunlight, received untold blessings caused by God’s rain and breathed in all the oxygen she ever needed. So much so that even her death was not caused by a lack of oxygen!

And these were just the “bare necessities” of life. God had given her so much more!

I did not set out to write out any negative thing about this exceptional woman. But it is clear that she had written God out of her life. Her attitude probably had to do with the fact that God had never physically hollered out to her from heaven, “Hey, Joan! Do you know that it is I who supplies all this goodness to you?”

When I recalled this story, I thought about the many people in this world who refuse to acknowledge God and yet live – indeed, thrive – off His goodness and kindness. This is something that has been happening for hundreds of centuries, ever since Adam. Apart from the self-avowed agnostics and atheists of this world, even the best of us have at times been doing things that are not pleasing to God. And yet at no single moment, since the creation of the world, did God sort of get impatient and say to us, “Lookey here, you fellows. I feed you, I clothe you and all you do is ignore me and do things that are displeasing to Me!”

More to the point, however, is the fact that at no time did God brag about the fact that it is He who provides for our incredibly multi-faceted existence. In my lifetime I have heard prophecy after prophecy (which is where we believe God speaks real-time) and I have never heard God talk about how it is He who is supplying our oxygen and our food. I find that extremely remarkable.

God quietly keeps in the background. So how do we come to know that it is God who provides us with these things?

God does so by allowing others to speak on His behalf. The Bible, in Romans 1:20 says:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead”.

In other words, God lets His creation talk – and take credit – on His behalf. It is like allowing your servant to be honored on your behalf. It would require a man of extraordinary self-control to do that.

Everything the Bible says about God tells us about God’s character. Humility is one of the attributes of God. God is extremely humble and He can do every good thing without trumpeting the fact… so much so that many, many people actually think that God is non-existent!

We, too, are called by God for one singular purpose – to carry in us His character. Our lives should therefore be a demonstration of the humble character of God.

The Bible says the character of God in us is demonstrated in a “meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Pet. 3:4)

It is even so with our giving. We are to give in such a discreet manner that our left hand is left unaware of what the right hand has done! That talks of humility. Such an attitude is of great price in the sight of God.

Doing this, however, requires the kind of self-control that many of us do not have. But God has made a way for us to perfectly carry out this directive. For us to carry out this directive from God in its perfectness, we need to go back to the basics – the cross of Jesus. Jesus said,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mat. 16:24)

In other words, Jesus was saying that if any man wants to do what God requires him to do, he has of necessity to

“deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow (Christ)”

When we are taking up our cross and following Jesus, it is easy to do good with a meek and humble spirit. It is easy to present ourselves to God, and not to men.

[The Hillsong oldies are an indescribable treasure]

Bigger Seed, Bigger Fruit!

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 2 Cor. 9:6

It is hard not to contextualize this scripture. In the charismatic gospel that I grew up in during my early years of salvation, this scripture was automatically interpreted in shillings or dollars – or material things. Give more and you shall receive more. 2 Corinthians 9:6 fits the money lovers’ agenda like a glove. It is a prized favorite with them.

But the Apostle Paul, who is the writer of this scripture, was not a money lover. Paul was a man of the Spirit. He could hardly have been smitten with the dollar sign. So, why would he write such words?

As I said in a recent post, I raise chickens for a living and, through this enterprise, I have learned many valuable lessons. Simple lessons in the natural, but profound in the Spirit. I have learned, for example, that an egg will hatch a chick that is equivalent to itself in size. The bigger the egg, the bigger the chick that will be hatched from it and, once fully grown, the bigger the chicken that chick will eventually become. Likewise, the smaller the egg, the smaller the chicken it will produce.

In other words, the bigger the seed, the bigger the fruit!

In like manner, Paul is saying here that we shall reap a harvest equal to the seed we have sown. But Paul is talking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. He is saying, therefore, that in the same measure that we sow in the Spirit, we shall reap in like measure in the Spirit.

How do we sow in the Spirit? We sow in the Spirit by dying to the flesh; by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ. You can argue your way to the farthest galaxy and back but that principle remains unmovable. It will only be done away with when Jesus comes back to end this present world.

What does it mean to deny ourselves? Denying ourselves in the Spirit means finding joy in the things of the Spirit rather than in the things of the flesh. It means casting away the things that would profit our flesh – the “me” attitude – and looking beyond self to the will of God. God’s will includes looking outward to the interests of others rather than inward, to our own interests. And this attitude must of necessity come with joy and a free will. That is why, in the following verse Paul states:

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (v. 7)

The word “cheerful” here talks of joy in the Spirit; and this joy can only come about when we have denied the flesh.

The more we sow our lives by denying ourselves, the more we will become profitable to God and to others in the Spirit – and the more we will add to our spiritual and heavenly account. As we give of our lives more and more, we create a tornado-like effect of profit – for God, for the brethren, for unbelievers even, and for ourselves. This is exactly what Paul says in the subsequent verses:

“8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (vs. 8-15)

Let us now consider the reaping part. Notice, in verse 10, that it is “the fruits of your righteousness” that God is looking to. What is that talking of? It is referring to the fruit of the Spirit. The more we give of ourselves in the Spirit, the more the fruit of the Spirit will increase in our lives. Peace, joy, thanksgiving and such-like things will be found in greater measure in our lives as we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ.

Wherever the idea came from that this scripture refers to us prospering in the natural? God is not looking to us to prosper in the natural. Whether we prosper in the natural or not is nothing with Him. Increasing “the fruits of your righteousness” is what truly concerns God, and whatever it takes to arrive at that goal should be our concern also.

The greater our giving through dying to self, the greater the joy and thanksgiving to God we create in the Spirit. And these are the activities that please God.

The sowing/reaping principle is all-encompassing. It involves our ministry also. We will become effective in ministry to the extent that we die to self. The Apostle Paul says:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

Is God a respecter of persons? Hardly. God’s grace is there for all of us to acquire. But there was an increase of grace in Paul’s life for him to become more effective in God’s labor fields to the extent that he received that grace “not in vain”. How did Paul receive God’s grace “not in vain”? Paul received God’s grace not in vain by sowing his life. He shut his eyes and presented his flesh as a living sacrifice to God. In that regard, the grace of God worked more in him.

That is why we need to not look to the flesh if we are to bear much fruit in the Spirit; fruit that will abound far beyond our personal frontiers even to God, and to others, both saved and unsaved.

[Below: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”]


Simplicity In Giving

… he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity Rom. 12:8

I just love scripture, don’t you? It has the noblest thoughts.

The Bible here exhorts us to give with simplicity. I just love that.

Notice that the Bible is talking about giving as a ministry. Yes, there is the ministry of giving. There are some believers who are good at everything, but you will never get a cent from them. In this group are some of the best preachers.

It is not that these people are necessarily miserly; it is just that they are not endowed with the giving ministry.

On the other hand, there are other people who just give and give. It is their joy to give and to see others blessed with the fruit of their labor. These are people who have the gift of giving.

The ministry of giving has nothing to do with one being rich or poor. Sometimes, when there is a need in church, people will look to the rich brother or sister and expect them to tackle the need. But that is not fair. That is putting law on people. But people ought to give from their hearts.

But, in giving, just as in other ministries, there are dangers galore. One area where one is most definitely tempted to blow his own big trumpet is in the area of giving. When you are a giver you are tempted to do one or both of two things:

  1. To feel some form of control over people or situations, and
  2. To let others know that you have given.

These are two big temptations, and they are all products of the flesh. But the Bible – the greatest Book in the world, the Book that was written by the finger of God Himself – exhorts us to give with simplicity.

In other words, if you have a heart to give, do it as if nothing has happened. Make it as way laid-back as possible. Since much of our giving is tax-less, don’t demand a receipt for every offering you make. Do not desire the church books to be filled with your name.

Above all, don’t make a project out of giving. This will draw attention to your “efforts”. And that does not give Christ the glory.

When we are giving, let us be simple as simple can be. I believe that when we are walking in the Spirit, we can do this. And Christ will receive the glory because we are not putting ourselves ahead of Christ.

[Below: Mother and daughter at a watering hole in Tanzania]

Free To Give!

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. 8:7-9

Giving away our finances and our material wealth is one of the ways that we serve God. The devil therefore works hard to bind us in this area. According to this scripture, to find yourself free in the area of finances and giving as our Lord Jesus Christ was is an incredible grace. Indeed, this is an unbelievable scripture. That a believer can “abound” in everything else – “in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us” – and yet not be free in the area of financial giving! This talks of the power of money upon the human spirit.

The area of giving, for most believers, is where “the rubber meets the road”. The human heart is so bound up with money that to find oneself free in the area of finances is true freedom indeed! He who is free from the power of money is free in nearly every area of his spiritual life. Just imagine how rich the Corinthians were in all these other areas; and yet, in this single area, it is clear they were woefully lacking.

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). According to Galatians 5, evil is “… adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Nearly all these things are rooted in money.

Elsewhere, scripture also says:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat. 6:24).

The word “mammon” means money, wealth or worldly possessions. Mammon is so powerful that the Bible equates it with God! Mammon is the god of this world.

But notice the Bible says that we cannot serve God and mammon. It is clear, therefore, that we as believers need to be set free from the power of this force or god, mammon. In other words, we need to be set free from the power of the love of money! We are to be free in our spirits with regard to finances in every area, including in our giving. That is the only way to serve God.

That was why Jesus said of the poor widow who put in two cents in the offering box, that she had given more than everyone else (Mk. 12:42-44). This old lady was so free she gave away all her “living”.

Do you think she was grieving and telling God, “God, I am planting a seed so that you might bless me a hundedfold”?

Hardly. Had she said that in her heart, Jesus would not have said those words about her. But Jesus spoke about her because in her heart she was free from the power of money. Although she was poor, yet she was the richest person in the temple. She was so rich she could give all her living for the gospel’s sake.

“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

The heart of this old widow was the heart of Christ. Free.

Had this widow died from hunger, she would have died gladly. She would not have been sorrowful about her condition.

Our love for money is a subject that we tiptoe about, simply because we do not want to offend the flesh. It is the flesh that is bound up with money, not the spirit. The spirit of the born-again believer yearns to be set free from the power of money.

Finally, let us consider verse 9:

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

This is a verse that has become the bane of the church because carnal-minded preachers and believers use it for their own gain. They say, “Jesus became poor that we may inherit the wealth of this world.”

But this scripture is not even talking about that! Jesus did not become poor so that we might inherit worldly possessions for the simple reason that God’s Kingdom is spiritual. You will not find the dollar sign in heaven.

So what is the meaning of this scripture?

The Apostle Paul here is trying to show the Corinthians how free our Lord was in the area of finances. Christ did not serve mammon. He served God. That was how He could afford to become poor.  You do not become poor simply because you have decided to become poor. You become poor because a work of God has occurred in your heart and God has set you free.

And notice Jesus did not become poor for poverty’s sake. Jesus became poor that through His poverty we might be rich.

But, anyways, let us give the benefit of doubt to those who claim that this scripture is talking about Jesus sacrificing His worldly riches so that we might become financially and materially rich. This argument gets instantly killed by the fact that the Bible also tells us to become Christ’s disciples, to follow Christ’s example and manner of life. How about we follow Christ’s example in not just becoming rich, but also in becoming poor that through our poverty others might become rich? That would require  we go and sell all that we have and give to the poor! Incidentally, that was exactly what Jesus told the rich young ruler. And just like the rich young ruler, I am sure not many who follow this line would obey Christ’s command to go sell all.

The love of money is the root cause of all evil. We, being innately evil, have not the faintest chance of defeating this god, mammon. If we have been born again, we can only thank God for having delivered us from the power of darkness. Hallelujah to that! And to thank Him exceedingly for the Holy Spirit who, through the power of the cross, will fully conquer this most subtle and menacing of all our enemies, the love of money in our hearts as we willingly surrender our wills to Him.

The cross is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

[Below: God was so rich He gave us His Son Jesus Christ!]


The True Gospel

32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 10:32-35

There are many gospels that are preached today in the name of Jesus. Amongst the most well-known of these is the prosperity gospel. Today, nearly everyone in the Christian world has heard of the prosperity gospel. The minute you mention “Prosperity gospel” everyone knows what you are talking about. It is that popular.

The prosperity gospel is vast in its scope. It has given birth to many different branches and sub-branches of teachings and beliefs. Most of the great Pentecostal ministries today – whatever their leaning – have their roots in the gospel of prosperity.

But the prosperity gospel is an aberrant in light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because it is built on the premise of receiving, rather than giving. One of the most prominent preachers of the prosperity gospel, on being asked to justify the opulent lifestyle that he lives, replied, “We gave, we believed, we received”.

The object, therefore, of the prosperity gospel is to receive. In light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ which demands our lives, this perspective is simplistic, and ultimately fatal, for it seeks to turn the gospel of Jesus Christ upside down.

I have watched interview after interview of many of the prominent preachers of the gospel of prosperity, and whenever they were asked about their lavish way of life, none was ever able to provide a clear answer to this question. They mumbled this and that, but they always made sure that whatever they said was pretty vague. One of them managed to say, “… We are open!” before walking off and leaving the reporter – and the viewer – more bewildered than ever. Incredible. And yet a man of God ought to be seen to be open.

But the gospel that Jesus came to preach is totally different from the gospel of prosperity. Here you hide nothing, simply because you have no reason to. Your life is not your own; it is given totally to Christ.

Unfortunately, this gospel is less well-known, and this is because it is not popular among preachers. Few preach it. This gospel is so lacking in our modern churches that when you mention it most people will think you are a cultist.

And yet… this gospel is actually the real message of the Bible. It is the message that our Lord Jesus brought to His people. It is the gospel over which the Apostle Paul wrote that he would not preach another, except it alone.

Moreover, this gospel has a name: it is called

“Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2); or, the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ.

This is a gospel that desires nothing of this world, and is therefore the only gospel that can make us to fulfill the great commission which Christ gave to the church:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

God wants to light up in our hearts the knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ, who not only became poor that we might become rich, but who also gave His life to be a ransom for many.

That, as we see with the Apostle Paul here, was the heart that the early church carried.

Dare we, the present church, carry a different spirit? I believe not. Amongst the many gospels competing for our attention, we must choose, and we must choose the right one.

The right gospel can only be the gospel of “Christ, and him crucified”.

In conclusion, let me add a personal thought. I believe the reason that these rich prosperity preachers will never provide a clear answer as to why they own so much wealth is because, having arrived at their goal, they turn around and realize that what they have so joyously embraced is not the TRUTH!! In a way, therefore, they are embarrassed whenever someone asks them about the incomprehensible riches that they own.

[Below: Life in rural Tanzania: even owning a bicycle is a luxury to most people. But still many happily hear the right gospel]


A Big Heart

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Lk. 6:35

The keyword in this portion of scripture is nothing.

Jesus wants us to have the kind of heart that He had when He was here on earth. It is soft, gentle, forbearing, patient, forgiving and extremely loving. When you have the heart that Jesus had you can do the things that Jesus commanded us to do – a feat which is impossible otherwise.

Because of the heart that He had, Jesus could boldly address the difficult things that are involved in our human relationships. Today, we will look at two of the issues that He talked about: doing good and lending. Jesus said, “do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again”.

Notice Jesus did not just say, “do good, and lend”. That is hard enough. But Jesus added: “… hoping for nothing again”.

Since the language used in the English translation here may not very clear, let us turn to another rendition . The Swahili Bible says: “… don’t expect to be repaid by the one you have lended to”.

Now, how about that? On the face of it, lending might appear to be a non-issue. You lend me, I repay you, deal. But the hard truth is that in the lending/borrowing schema, the one who lends often feels that they have a certain ‘right’ over the person they are lending to. They can even feel patronising, and bullish. There is a certain power attached to our ability to lend.

But, according to Jesus’ words here, that feeling of control is not the biggest challenge.  The greatest trial for the one who lends is what Jesus talked of here: “do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again”.

We hardly think about it, but the minute we lend to someone, we subconsciously wait for them to repay us. It is the same when we do a good deed. We expect appreciation at the very least and, ultimately, repayment of the good deed that we did.

But Jesus said, “Do good and lend, and do not expect to be paid back”.

The Bible says that then, “ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”

In other words, in order for us to become children of God, we must lose. That talks of a really, really big heart. There are believers who have a big of everything – except their hearts. There are believers, for example, who call themselves the King’s Kids; and they live a particular kind of lifestyle. But to be a true child of God, you will need to do more than wear the latest fashion jeans and live the high life “in the name of Jesus”.

To be a true child of God, you will need to have the kind of big heart that Jesus had. The true child of God is the one who can do good to everyone – friend, foe, and everyone in between – and expect nothing in return.

The true child of God is the one who can lend, and consider it as if he has given, not lended. He is thinking, “That guy had a need”.

God’s love in us knows no bounds. It is as endless as the universe is endless. We only need lay down our lives on the altar, and we will discover that love in us.

[There are two major bus stands in Mwanza City: the one for south-bound buses and, here, the north-bound one]