As we continue the rollout and careful explanation of our newly clarified vision, I’m preaching through the measures we have established that will help us determine how we are doing in accomplishing the mission and ministry God has given us. For five weeks we’ve been looking at “developing a daily heart of worship,” which includes corporate worship, daily private worship, a growing prayer life, and developing an obedient and generous heart in regard to the tithe and giving.
It’s essential that we develop that generous and obedient heart, recognizing that God owns it all and we are merely managers. Remember: Tithing is not God’s way of raising money; it’s God’s way of raising children.
In light of that, I want to share some information I recently read in the Harvard Business Review, based on polling data gathered by Gallop from 132 nations. Analysis of the data shows that religious belief appears to be the main reason why people in poor countries see greater meaning in life than residents of wealthy countries. Where are those who see greater meaning in life? Among the nations with the highest sense that life has meaning are Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ethiopia, Laos, and Ecuador. None of these countries are known for their great wealth. In fact, the opposite is true. These are among the world’s poorest nations. But many of the people in these countries connect their daily experiences with their belief system founded on God’s Word and trust in Him. In the midst of extreme hardship, they have found meaning because they trust God, the only source of meaning in life.
So the believers in these nations have much less than the average American Christian, but they have more fulfillment and meaning in life; while many Christians in the U.S. are busy trying to make or hold on to their wealth thinking that in it they will find fulfillment and meaning. Wealth and meaning in life are not synonymous. It seems that the Harvard Business Review has discovered the truth of what Jesus told us about the relationship between our hearts and money.
The article concludes: “What’s the meaning of life? Answers may vary, but the poor have a better handle on it than the rich. Not quite what you’d expect. Unless you take Jesus seriously.”