David Denmark, executive director of the Maclellan Foundation, is a strong believer in inspiring and empowering people to become givers. He has an exciting vision for the ways that Christian givers around the world can join forces to fund the expansion of God’s kingdom.
So when Cameron Doolittle of Joygiving received this question, “How do you collaborate with other funders/foundations?” Denmark was the first person he thought to ask.
But before he got to the how of collaboration, he thought it was important, first, to ask, “Why do some of us even have wealth?”
Here is Denmark’s response.
Scripture: Why are you wealthy?
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses talks with the people, in order to prepare their hearts to receive God’s blessings found in the Promise Land.
Moses tells them that they will soon possess cities and vineyards and herds of animals. They are going to become wealthy. And then he gives them this encouragement:
Beware lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the power and ability to get wealth, that he may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
This is a fascinating Scripture. God told his people that they were going to be wealthy, and that it would be a good thing. He was preparing them ahead of time to recognize the wealth they were about to receive didn’t come from them. It was a gift and a responsibility.
How do we apply this? Here are a few steps:
- Search the Scriptures to ask “Why am I wealthy?”
If you are like me, you probably have said that “God blessed me with wealth.”
I don’t think that is entirely accurate. You are wealthy because you are smart, you worked harder than most people, you had the guts to stick it out during the hard times, and you had favor over your competition. That is why you are wealthy.
But, it was the Lord who gave you your brain, your work ethic, your guts, and the favor. God did not give you wealth. He gave you the ability to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).
So here is the question that I want to propose: Why you; why me?
Why wasn’t I born blind in a village in Brazil? I still could have had a great life, but it would have been a different life. Why was I given these unique abilities in this unique place where I live in this unique time?
There are 100 million other Christians who do not have your brains, your work ethic, your guts, and the same opportunities and favor that you have. Why you?
We know it isn’t that God loves you and me more than anyone else. He loves all his children the same.
And this isn’t some weird guilt trip I’m sending you on. It’s actually a very exciting question to ponder. You were hand-picked by God to become wealthy. That is amazing, and radically encouraging. But why did he do this? What does he want you to do with it?
What is the purpose for your wealth?
I think it is different for each of us. But one thing I believe we all have in common can be learned from Deuteronomy 8. We worked for it, but we still wouldn’t have it if God hadn’t chosen to give it to us.
So now what? What should we do when we realize God chose us to create wealth?
- Celebrate that God confirms his covenant through your wealth
God gives us the ability to make wealth for the purpose of confirming some covenantal promise he has made. What promise has God spoken over your family? What covenant has he spoken over your country? And how do you honor that covenant by making something of what you’ve been given, using the talents you have (Matthew 25:14-30)?
Our wealth is destined to confirm those covenants and honor God.
- Enjoy the wealth he has given you with others
I believe we are supposed to enjoy our wealth. And one of the best ways to enjoy it is to find a covenantal purpose for it. A great way to discover that purpose is to gather together with other people who have also been hand-picked to make wealth.
Jesus said that wherever two or more were gathered in his name, he would be with them (Matthew 18:20). Extraordinary, supernatural things can happen when believers come together to discuss what it means to use our wealth to confirm a covenant made by God and glorify him.
In Part 2, David Denmark will explore the reasons to give with other Christians. In Part 3, he’ll share lessons that the Maclellan Foundation has learned about collaborative giving.