I received a call recently asking me if I would be interested to attend a seminar on “How to be a millionaire”. It was one of those random sales call most of us are familiar with. Ms Millionaire-Wannabe sounded really surprised that someone would actually turn down such an invitation. Her astonished but blunt respond was, “You mean you don’t want to be a millionaire?” I can almost see her raised eyebrows and bewildered eyes at the other end of the line. How does one respond to that without sounding rude? So I didn’t even try.

It was a valid question of course. I just didn’t think it’s worth explaining to a stranger whom I know wouldn’t care if I’m a wealthy property tycoon or a peddler by the roadside, if it’s not for what she can gain for herself because you see, she is also wanting to be a millionaire. So first off, I want to make it clear that I’m NOT against riches. I am not among those who believe that poverty is a blessing and money is evil. Who doesn’t want to have more money? If you are among the rare few, please drop me a note and we can discuss how you can transfer some of it to me. The thing is, while we can have more than enough for ourselves, especially if we live simply, we can never have more than enough for others. Just ask World Vision or any other humanitarian agencies. We’ve always heard the saying, “money is the root of all evil”. That is a misquote from the Bible. It says “the love of money is the root of all evil”. You can live in poverty and still have the love of money. Money is neutral. In the hands of responsible and big hearted people, it is a tool for blessing. It can solve world poverty. Don’t be surprised if it can even buy back that broken relationship with a relative or friend. In short, money can solve many problems, in our own life and in the lives of others. So I am all for money. I belong to a church who is not ashamed of its prosperity.

So why am I not excited about Ms Millionaire-Wannabe’s offer? It has got to do with the system I live under. As a believer I am aware that I live under a different system from the world. The first thing you want to know is that our number preoccupation is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these will be added unto you”. We are not to go after money in order to gain heaven (a good life). Instead we make it our life’s mission to go after God first and the rest will fall into place. We are not to worry about our provision because that is an insult to a God who calls Himself our provider. I believe the reason why we need to seek God first instead of his blessings is because in our seeking, we grow in our knowledge of Him and in Him we develop the wisdom and character to be good stewards of the money He places in our hands. The way we manage our finances will be directed in a way that is in line with God’s will and God’s purposes for our life and for the people around us. Without this vital step, the chances of us being enslaved by money are so much greater. While God is not against us having money, He doesn’t want money to have us and become our master. I will explore this in more detail later.

That’s the first thing; the second thing you want to know is that under this system, our blessings (material ones included) come by grace. Our success and prosperity is not determined by how hard or smart we work but come by the undeserved favour of God, or what is commonly known as grace. It doesn’t mean we don’t work hard, it doesn’t mean we don’t use our brains. It just means that we don’t depend on them for our success. As we place our future in His hands, we can have faith that He will put us at the right place at the right time and grants us favour with the right people. The motive for working hard is entirely different. We do it because as bearers of God’s image (which all of us are, Christians or not) it is a privilege to be able to reflect that in the way we use our talents and time. We also do it out of rest, knowing that we do not need to push ourselves to gain the approval of others or even ourselves. God has already approved of us and our destiny is already secured in Christ. The book of Jeremiah says it this way, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. What more can we ask for? Isn’t that a promise all of us want ultimately? It is out of this rest that we are truly able to honor God with our work. I have friends who wish to retire early so they can start living the life they want. I, on the other hand, see work as a blessing and an avenue by which to honor God. I hope to be able to work for as long as I can. Our work does not have to interfere with our living. It can be complimentary. It is when the motive of our work is amiss that work becomes a curse. If there has been undue strife in our work life, perhaps we should start asking ourselves if we are seeking the right ends. Money as we all know is a means to an end, not an end in itself. God by His grace can bypass all that and bring us straight to the end if that fulfills His purpose. That leads us to the next thing that you would want to know.

Everything in a believer’s life operates by divine purpose. Most times these purposes are not immediately obvious to us. Only on hindsight do we understand them sometimes and there are some we will never know till we get to heaven. From the Bible we can agree that character development is a major priority of God for us. Joseph did not become the Prime Minister of Egypt overnight. What his brothers meant for evil, God used to build Joseph’s character. Likewise, Moses’ 40 years in the desert tending his father-in-law’s flock was not for nothing. God humbled him before He appointed him as Israel’s deliverer. Even David, Israel’s greatest king, started out as a shepherd boy. It should give us great comfort to know that what the world considers worthless and hopeless, is not a hindrance to God. He only asks for a willing heart. So will it serve His purpose if He blesses us with more money than we are ready to handle? Will we still love the right things? As Christians we are not to rush into getting rich. Instead we need come to a place where we can say together with Paul, that we have learn to be content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Sometimes God may lead us through a different route then what we hoped for in order to prepare us for His blessing. Dumping it on laps prematurely only turns us into spoilt kids.

Finally you will also want to know the significance of an ancient practice called, tithing. From the earliest days, back in the time of Genesis, God has commanded that we set apart a portion of our gains as an offering unto Him; a sign of our acknowledgement that he is our ultimate provider and all things belongs to Him. He is the one who gives us the ability to create wealth. While some motivational speakers boast in their strategies and declares themselves self-made millionaires, God says “apart from Me, you can do nothing” and rightly so, for our very breath and existence comes from God and is sustained by God. The idea is that as we consecrate 10% of our income to God, the remaining 90% is blessed. We read in the book of Malachi that the Lord said, “test me in this (referring to the tithe), and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” However, we do not tithe to get rich. Note again the motive. Don’t think for a moment that we can manipulate God. He sees our heart. I suspect not only does God want us to acknowledge our place before Him but also that He doesn’t want us to become attach to money. Jesus said, “he who finds his life will lose it, and he who losses his life for my sake will find it.” Likewise, the more we run after money, the more it eludes us. The secret is in giving it away.

And this concludes what my answer would be to Ms Millionaire-Wannabe but as you can see, I doubt she will have the patience for it. Do I want to be a millionaire? Why not, but I want to do it God’s way in God’s timing.