The Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots were huge recently – $730 million and $970 million respectively. When the prizes get that high, do you play the “If I won the lottery…” game? You know how to play. “If I won this lottery jackpot I would…” and we usually fill in the rest of the sentence with helping our family and then people in our community who are in need. We imagine feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, etc. It has been my experience that most people have compassion for those in need. Have you ever wondered why? How does one explain an inherent desire to help others? I believe it has to do with who created us. In the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, God says to the heavenly court, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground. So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
This means, unlike animals, we humans have the unique ability to reflect God’s character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness. That’s right. We have an internal yearning to love because that’s how God created us. It is our default setting. At the same time, the dictionary defines “ability” as “the power or capacity to do…” something or another. In other words, God may have given such abilities to us, but He also gave us freewill. That means, whether we exercise our power or capacity remains our choice.
I find that most people respond to others in need. Whenever there is a natural disaster (hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, tornado, coronavirus), or even a tragedy like 9/11, we instinctively react. Our ability to reflect God’s character in love kicks in – seemingly automatically. That’s why when we play the “If I won the lottery…” game, we think about all the people we could help with our winnings.
I play the “If I won the lottery…” game too. It’s fun. However, I wonder how many of us realize that we do not have to wait until we win Powerball. There are people all over the world right now in need, and we can help. We can. Like you, I don’t have millions of dollars, but I do support my church every week with a tithe. I donate to our Sparrow Ministry which feeds the Hartford hungry here on Saturday mornings. I sponsor my Ugandan “daughter” Sauda, as well as our sister church in Haiti, all without having won Powerball. I do what I can with what I have. We should all exercise our ability to reflect God’s character to love others. The Bible says, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). You don’t have to be rich before you can make a meaningful difference. In fact, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, “Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have” (2 Corinthians 8:12).
Look, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and every little bit is a blessing. Don’t put yourself in the poorhouse by giving all your money away. Give what you can – according to what you have. Give now – to your church or other worthy organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International, World Vision, or Imani Milele (where I met Sauda). We don’t have to have $970 million dollars (well, $450 million after taxes) before we help those in need. “Give in proportion to what you have,” Paul reminds us, but do not wait until our lottery ticket comes in. We will miss out on some amazing opportunities while we’re waiting.
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