Instead of wealth which we desire, we were all given the ability to create it. That is how much God trusted us that we will use that ability to serve His purpose. Our choice is not between ability and wealth. One is given while the other is produced by us. One is a tool while the other is the result of using that tool. Unaware, we sometimes chase wealth and give it more attention than the tool.
I cannot deny that there were times when it is a struggle for me when I am tempted to make the wrong choice. Wealth has a way of masquerading itself as the solution to life’s problems. It keeps on popping up in our search for identity and security.
If we are asked to choose which of the following will it be:
The first is 1 billion pesos, where we don’t have to work, and just spend it in our lifetime, leaving more than enough for our children and do with it whatever we please. The other is to work and use the potential that God has placed in us. Who knows, if we become good in what we are doing and God blesses our work, we may eventually build wealth of a billion pesos or more?
Choosing one or the other has far deeper implication than we can see on the surface. The first involves doing nothing except to consume and produce no value at all. It is living life with no impact in this world. It is living solely for oneself. It is not utilizing one’s God-given ability, failing to discover what one can do and not finding fulfillment in life.
I remember the story about a lotto winner. After he won what could be an amount that is more than what he needs for his lifetime, he left his job. The change in lifestyle negatively affected his wife and family who were not ready for such change. He lived every dream he had for himself. He eventually lost all his money and was worse than before he won the lotto. If we did not learn how to manage a small amount, how can we manage something big?
There are those who use their ability to deprive others of their value instead of adding value. This class of people chose the first option, wealth over ability. They don’t believe they have the ability to create value and could reap the rewards after. They would rather do a short cut and acquire wealth without creating value. They think they can derive their identity in wealth.
The second choice involves creating and adding value to this world. This is what God designed for a man. It results to adding value to people, generating jobs, serving an employer, addressing a customer need, and becoming a blessing to one’s community. It may also involve creating a solution to a problem, or coming up with a new product or service that could not have been conceived and produced had we chosen the first option. If we take this path, achieving greatness by being able to create something we never thought possible, creating value that serves others, we express God’s image and likeness in us. We are not hopelessly trying to survive or robbing other people of their value to live a comfortable life until we die. We are created for a purpose.
When Peter and his company of fishermen could not catch fish after trying the whole night, Jesus asked them to cast their net at the other side of the boat. Then, there was a huge catch of fish more than their net could hold. Peter knew this is not possible with man alone. Peter could have dismissed it as another coincidence, but he knew it is God. Then he knelt down and acknowledged Jesus as God. The catch is so huge that they had to give most of them to their neighbors. ( Luke 5:1-11)
Peter and his buddies in the fishing business could have waited for Jesus to simply point to him where to cast the net. Why waste energy and time, working the whole day, when God can give everything we need? But the revelation of who God is, came after they worked, using their ability. That is what they were called for, catch fish and that is where they should be good at. But if Jesus intervened just as they begun to work, He would be diminishing the importance of work. As they worked, trying to do better even as they fail, again and again, Jesus watched, and I believe, was pleased.
Jesus could have prevented them from stretching themselves. Instead, He allowed them to try different strategies, work hard, develop patience, perseverance, and faith. Then God showed up. Working with God produces fruit of character and prepares us to handle wealth as good stewards, no longer to become slaves of the wealth we create. Then, realizing that the God of abundance is our source and we are just stewards, we become generous. When we know God, we know our identity. How awesome it is to know that He died on the cross and rose again so that we can live with Him!
Going back to the billion-peso question, if I choose ability, I move towards establishing my identity in God, discover what His image and likeness means to me, serve His purpose and add value to this world. As a bonus, I might eventually have the 1 billion pesos or even more. A question might then be asked, when I begin to know God, what do I need that much wealth for? I believe God has an answer for that if we don’t veer away from the Source of our identity.
Those who choose money and do nothing to add value to this world, or worse, deprive others of their worth to gain wealth, don’t really gain anything.
But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ABILITY TO CREATE WEALTH, and so confirms His covenant which He swore to your forefathers as it is today.