I was reading through a book a wrote back in 2007 entitled, Scripture to Live By (which is now free on Kindle). It’s one of my favorite books because it included chapters written by some of my favorite authors. I ended each chapter with a devotional thought. Here’s a chapter written by Bob Russell on the power of generosity.
What do you do with all that money?
By Bob Russell
A year ago I met a multi-millionaire named Paul J. Meyer. Many call him the most generous man alive. When Paul was sixteen years old his strict, uncompromising father kicked him out of the house and told him not to come back. He lived as a homeless young man and for several months slept in a tent.
But Paul was determined to make the most of his life, and soon he had a job with an insurance company collecting monthly payments. That wasn’t a very glamorous job, but it was a job. He was so faithful in his assigned task that eventually he was given an opportunity to sell insurance.
By the time he was thirty years old the ambitious, determined Paul J. Meyer became the National Salesman of the Year for his company. He then began teaching sales seminars and has since written numerous training courses and invested wisely making millions.
But years ago the Lord touched his heart and Paul became convinced that there was something better to do with his money than just accumulate more and more. He began giving huge amounts away. He discovered that it was indeed, “More blessed to give than to receive.” He loved the joy and sense of satisfaction he got from helping others.
Today Paul J. Meyer is in his 70s and gives away more than 90 percent of what he earns. He’s incredibly generous with worthy causes and has put more than 500 kids through college.
I serve on the board of a national ministry with Paul J. Meyer but I hadn’t met him personally until last year when, during a participation activity, I found myself sitting between Paul J. Meyer and his lawyer/financial advisor. There were just three of us at the table for the next forty-five minutes.
When I began probing a little about his generosity, his financial advisor laughingly said, “It’s my job to make sure that Paul doesn’t give his money away faster than we take it in!” He said that several years ago the two of them took a week-long drive across the Midwest and Paul passed his business card out to ten different young people he’d just met saying, “Call this number and I’ll help put you through college.” But nine of the ten never called because they didn’t believe it was for real.
The accountant said, “We were stopped at a highway construction site and Meyer was intrigued with a young girl dressed in blue jeans, wearing a helmet, holding a stop sign. He leaned out the window and struck up a conversation with her.
“Why are you working on construction?”
She said, “I’m working my way through college”
He asked, “Can’t your parents help you?”
She answered, “No, they’re not in a position to help right now.”
He asked, “What do you want to be?”
“My dream is to become a nurse someday,” she replied.
Paul J. Meyer gave her his card and said, “Young lady, I’m in the business of making dreams come true. Next week you call this number and I’ll see that you have the money to go to college.”
The next week the financial advisor got a phone call and the girl on the other end of the line said, “Last week some little old man said he’d help pay my way through college if I called this number. Is that true?”
He happily replied, “Yes ma’am it is.”
As they told that story the faces of both lit up as they excitedly described how this young woman is now a nurse in a mid-western hospital because they had the resources to share with her.
Wouldn’t that be fun? Wouldn’t you love to have millions to give away to those in need? The thought occurred to me that maybe that’s why Paul J. Meyer has it to give away. The Bible says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38 NIV). But the real test is not what you’d do if you were a multi-millionaire, but what you are doing with what you have right now. One poet quipped, “It’s not what you’d do with a million if riches should ever be your lot, but what you’re doing right now with the dollar and a quarter you’ve got.”
16Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” 18“Which ones?” the man inquired.
Jesus replied, ” ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”
20“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Once a good man came to Jesus with a difficult question: “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” This man was rich, young, and probably a “ruler” of a local synagogue. He was a believer of God—keeping all of the commandments of God—but he was yet to become a follower.
Believing in and following are two very different things.
This young wealthy man had an impressive temporal life full of great wealth, but he wanted even more. He wanted eternal life, too. He wasn’t asking too much—he just wanted one simple thing he could do to earn eternal life!
Isn’t that how we are? We want a magic pill that will allow us to lose in one week the weight we spent thirty years accumulating. We want one-minute solutions to life-long problems.
This man wanted easy eternal life. Anyone who knows the heart of God knows that it is absurd to think that we can do anything to earn eternal life, but Jesus plays along, answering his “simple” request with a “simple” answer: “Obey the commandments.”
To which the rich young ruler answers what Jesus knew he would answer: “I’ve kept all of these, what do I still lack?”
To which Jesus answers: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Greed is a powerful force.
Reality TV is evidence of the power of greed.
Every self-respecting reality TV show revolves around a proven formula: Offer people a million dollars and they will do almost anything to get it. They will eat rats, jump off buildings, lock themselves in a house with a bunch of strangers, sing, dance, survive on a deserted island, give up all privacy, embarrass themselves, lose weight, gain weight, and even marry a stranger.
Greed IS a powerful force and hard to walk away from, but there is a force much more powerful than greed and that force is: generosity.
Paul J. Meyer knows the power of generosity. He gave in to the power of giving and now he can’t—he won’t—walk away. When it appears that all everybody wants is to have more, all Paul wants is to give more. He can’t give his money away fast enough. Generosity has consumed him. He chose Jesus and walks behind Him with a smile on his face.
Jesus knows the power of generosity. Jesus is the embodiment of generosity. In his life he gave healing to hurting people, time to lonely people, wisdom to seekers, food to the hungry, sight to the blind, fish to the fishless, comfort to the inconsolable, hope to the hopeless, purpose to the lost, and mercy to the sinners. Then, in the greatest act of generosity, in His death He gave life to the dead. His generosity consumed Him, yet He still keeps on giving.
That’s the power of generosity.
Every day we need to decide what we are going to do. Will we give in to the power of generosity, or the power of greed?
Will we walk with Jesus smiling, or will we walk away—and alone—sad?—Arron Chambers
©2015 Arron Chambers