Sometime ago, I listened in on a discussion about the state of the education sector in Nigeria and it seemed to be the general consensus that before that sector asks for more funds to be allocated to it, the question needs to be asked and answered: “What did you do with what was given you?” I find it funny that we refer to the government like it’s setup of robots and not human beings that come from the same pool we (Nigerians) belong to. Whatever behaviour is displayed within the government is only a public manifestation of the behavioural flaws in us as a people.

What are you doing with what was given you?

We use up the resources God gives us on our own plans and desires, then come to God with the remnants to ask, “What would you like me to do with this?”, if at all we even bother to ask. This is done with our treasure (money), our time and our talents. Why do we do this? Because we really believe that we own stuff when the truth is that not only our stuff but we ourselves belong to God. Does God not own everything? Are we not just channels through which He despatches resources FOR HIS OWN PURPOSES?

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;”
             (Psalm 24:1, NIV)

Our Treasure

Once we receive a financial blessing, rather than ask God what He has in mind for that resource, we start spending it on ourselves (directly or indirectly) and then offer Him whatever is left…..if anything. Sadly, we justify this by saying we gave Him 10% (a tithe) of the money before spending the rest and that is what belongs to Him. If we are to track our expenses over a period of time, it would become very clear to us how we spend the money that comes into our hands.

I don’t suppose we need any tracking to find out how often we seek God’s opinion on how we are to spend the money He allows to pass through our hands. We are actually conduits (channels) for material resources and God should be able to count on His children to be reliable channels, channelling resources wherever and however He desires.  God won’t come down bodily to give to the poor or support the work of His kingdom. He blesses the work of our hands so that we can be channels of blessing, not just to meet our needs (and many wants).

Recommendation: Anytime you receive money or other material blessings, pause and ask God what His intentions are in sending those resources your way.

Our Time

There are different types of people. Some find it difficult to part with money but others find it equally difficult to give up their time for others. It has often been said that children spell ‘love’ as ‘T-I-M-E’. I think it’s not only children that do this. Gary Chapman’s book about Love Languages suggests that there are some of us adults who also spell love as ‘T-I-M-E’. In other words, we feel loved when somebody gives us their time (spends time with us).  In Old People’s Homes in developed nations, volunteers spend time with the residents as a means of making them feel relevant and loved. At that age, when everything else has slowed down to a stop, time spent in pleasant company means a great deal.

In our nation, Nigeria, volunteerism is not properly understood and practised because our volunteers expect remuneration. We consider it a waste of our time to invest time into anything that does not give us financial or material rewards. “Time”, they say, “is money.” So for those who hoard their time, it might help to view their time as money and decide to give it away as the Lord asks of us.

If we sleep for 8 hours in a day, we have 16 hours left to do with whatever we want. So my questions are:

Do we think God has things He would like for us to do with the time He has given us?
Is it likely that He gave us life and keeps us alive daily just for us to spend every waking minute pursuing our own dreams?
Will we give an account for how we spent the time given us?

Recommendation: Let’s ask our Lord what He wants us to accomplish for Him (our assignment) and make our plans and itineraries after seeking His face. A good prayer each morning is: “What would you have me do for you today, Lord?”

Our Talents

We have all been given at least one talent. Some say they are not talented because they think talent is only in the Arts or Music but there are people, like one of my children, who have the gift of organization – they love organizing spaces and activities, and do a fantastic job of it. There is a reason God gave them that ability. Some are naturally good with their hands – making things; with children; at speaking (orators); at buying and selling.

Whatever ability God has built into us, His workmanship, He did so for a reason. There is something He wants to use these abilities for. Sadly, the culture is all about ‘me, myself, and I’, so our abilities are channelled solely into ventures that will yield maximum financial and material returns for us and our immediate family. Work is just a means to make money to live the kind of lifestyle we believe we ought to be living, so we go to school to read courses in fields that do not engage our natural abilities simply because such fields earn high income. Whereas, our work should be a channel for the abilities God has given us.

Besides our vocation/profession, there are so many other opportunities to use our talents/abilities to bless others and to build God’s kingdom (our primary occupation as disciples of Christ). We could serve in departments in our local assemblies and at outreaches; volunteer at non-profit organizations; volunteer at our children’s schools when they request for parent volunteers for different activities; etc.

 

In the final analysis, the worshipper recognises that God is indeed Lord over everything we are and possess. Let’s not deceive ourselves – if we refuse to give of our resources to a fellow human being who needs what we have, we have refused to give to God.

“Then the King will say…., ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”
(Matthew 25:34-37, NIV)