I am always amazed at what happens when trouble shows up in a community, how people pull together and you see how many good folks there are out there that will never be on the evening news for their charitable works, but are as important as a President in the moment. When hurricane Harvey struck south Texas and began its slow crawl across the land, people began almost immediately doing remarkable things to help each other.
And, as usual there were throngs of businesspeople who stepped into the gap and began to offer much needed goods, services, and money. Just think about that. It was pure devastation there. Many of the businesses were flooded out and many others were working hard to keep from being swamped. In the middle of all of that, they began to give.
One of those was a company called Gallery Furniture, a longstanding and iconic institution owned by a real character called “Mattress Mack.” Mack and his wife came to Houston many years ago from Dallas with nothing but the shirts on their back and launched Gallery Furniture in what had been a group of model homes along I-45. The business has grown exponentially from those humble beginnings and now has sales far exceeding 100 million dollars, most all of it done from a much improved and beautiful facility that stands in the same spot as those early model homes.
When the water began to rise and people were displaced, Mack did a remarkable thing. He opened up his showroom to strangers with no conditions attached. Pretty soon the place was filled with people that Mack had never met sleeping on brand new mattresses and eating their makeshift meals on pristine dining tables. When asked about his gracious act, Mack answered (my paraphrase) “To heck with profits. Houston has been good to me. It’s the least I can do.”
Mack and others like him understand God’s economy and how it works. The system that most of us live in every day is built around the idea that you get all you can, can all you get, and then sit on the can and keep everybody away from it. Right? More money and more things are needed just in case there was a downturn of some kind. This system’s mantra is ‘you should take care of yourself, and always protect your assets and by all means make more when you can at every turn.’
But Jesus’ economics class in Matthew 6 works just the opposite. He begins the class by saying “You can’t serve God and money.” Apparently it’s impossible. Then, he reassures us that he takes really good care of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air and so He will certainly take care of us. He commands us to seek first the kingdom of God and promises that if we do, ALL these things will be added unto you.
All. Every one of those things that we think we need to have stashed away will just show up when we need it. This whole idea is based on a simple rearranging of what we are supposed to do with money. In the usual economic model this is what most of us do when we get paid: We pay our bills, we save a little if we can, and then some of us tithe to our church or some other non-profit. So, to be clear, that’s money for ME (bills), money for ME (savings), and then money for OTHERS (tithing).
But Jesus stands that on its ear. He says, instead of ME being in the first two slots, it should be OTHERS first, and then I should save and spend what’s left. But, to do that, we have to really believe that God will take care of us.
This is central to the whole notion of Halftime. A lot of people don’t finish well and move from success to significance because they are operating under the wrong economic model, one that, quite honestly is built on fear and not faith.
Right here is where the rubber meets the road in our faith journey, in my opinion. Do we really believe that God loves us more than the lilies of the field and that He will take care of us? If we do, then giving it all away, or stepping out into the unknown because we are being led there makes perfect sense.