Thursday, 15 October 2020
Title: With great power, comes great responsibility
Author: Arnold Lim

Psalm 112:9
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.

In this “Me First” world of ours, we often adopt the attitude that all we have belongs to us. Therefore, we have the right to spend on whatever we like.

But the Lord has blessed us not solely for our benefit. In 1 Timothy 6:18, God commands those who are rich to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. To paraphrase Spiderman’s Uncle Ben*: “With great power, comes great responsibility!” And lest we forget, God is the source of all blessings: “For it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)

*(Uncle Ben, actually quoted from Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.”)

So, here are certain thought patterns we need to avoid if we are to provide for our family, tithe, and help those who are in need:

  • Inability to bear short term pain for long term gain

During my days serving in the Benevolent Fund, I observed a daughter of a financially strapped elderly couple, having to forgo her secretarial course to become an air hostess, in order to provide for the family. While I did not think it was a good decision, I suppose they had no choice. But I did think that her potential would have been so much better as a qualified secretary instead of an air hostess. And now, with travel limited by Covid-19, the decision looks even more unwise.

If possible, do not sacrifice long term potential for short term gain.

  • Unnecessary expenditures

As Christians, we do not gamble. Our trust is in God, not in chance. We do not buy lottery tickets as it is not good stewardship. Data is not available for Malaysia, but do you know that the poorest households in the United States spend an average of USD400.00 per year on lottery tickets? At the same time, these same households cannot come up with USD400.00 in any emergency situation. Why do you think such households are willing to give up these savings for a lottery ticket? Their thinking is: “I cannot achieve the lifestyle that you have. The only way I can have any hope of doing so, is to win a lottery.” But that is a one in a million chance. (Source: Excerpt taken from Philosophy of Money by Morgan Housel)

Coming back to a local context, how many smokers in the B-40 group can afford that RM10.00 pack of “illegal” cigarettes per day? (A bona fide pack is RM20.00.) That is still RM300 per month or RM3600 per year. In comparison, how much is the Bantuan Sara Hidup offered by the government? RM3000 per year. It just does not make sense.

Do you have any unnecessary expenditures? A subscription to a club that you do not use?

  • Instant gratification

At the other end of the spectrum, is the need for instant gratification; that is the inability to postpone consumption to a later date. Previously, the status symbol for the young urban professional was the Golf GTI. Today, the vehicle of choice is the Mercedes Benz A250, which depending upon engine specifications, can cost upwards of RM250,000. I wonder how many of these yuppies can really afford the car? As the car is a depreciating item, it is best to start out with a modest car. If possible, pay cash! It will limit your choices to cars you can afford.

Avoid spending the principal sum, which could be your hard-earned savings or an inheritance. Spend only the income generated from that principal. This is especially so, if you are still young. For, those already approaching 70, 80 or 90, a different philosophy applies.

  • Standard of Living Creep

Do you notice how our standard of living tends to creep up, surreptitiously?

As an example, say, we are happy eating at Pizza Hut or KFC. For birthday celebrations, we go to Chili’s. But slowly, before we realize it, Chili’s becomes the norm. And for celebrations, we go to an even more fancy restaurant. Now, there is nothing wrong in enjoying some comforts in life when the Lord has blessed us. But at some point, we should say “Enough is enough”. After all, the Lord says, “Contentment with godliness is great gain”.

For quite a few years now, I have refused to go to restaurants that I consider too expensive. Certain Japanese restaurants, for example, where it can cost you more than RM400.00 per head. Very expensive Chinese restaurants are a no-no, unless it is Chinese New Year.

Only by capping our standard of living can we save and invest for the future. And tithe.

I have observed that some people with such thought patterns find it very difficult to change their mindset, in spite of experiencing the consequences of their bad decisions. So, they are destined to repeat their mistakes. Sadly, the impacts of their decisions are not immediately evident. Sometimes it takes years. Mostly, the consequences only become evident in retirement. Then it hits them.

If you recognize any of these thought patterns in your life, ask the Lord for help in getting out of the trap. Yes, it is indeed a trap.

Prayer
Our God and Heavenly Father, You are an awesome and great God. Help us, O Lord, to get rid of any of the thought patterns above. Help us, so that we may be good stewards of Your blessings, so that we can provide for our families and still tithe and give to those in need.
And when You have provided for us, and when we have eaten and are satisfied, we pray that we will be grateful and not forget what You have done for us.

We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

每日灵粮
星期四, 2020年10月15日
标题:能力越强,责任越大
作者:林文礼弟兄
翻译:薛秀合姐妹

【诗篇112:9】
他施舍钱财,周济贫穷;他的仁义存到永远。他的角必被高举,大有荣耀。

在这个“以我为先”的世界中,我们经常采取一种态度,即我们所有的一切都属于我们的。因此,我们有权在自己喜欢的任何东西上花费。

但是主祝福我们不仅是为了我们的利益。在提摩太前书6:18,上帝命令那些今世富足的人行善,在好事上富足,甘心施舍,乐意供给人。转述蜘蛛侠的本叔叔*的经典台词:“能力越强,责任就越大!” 以免我们忘记,上帝是一切祝福的源头:“因为得货财的力量是他给你的。” (申命记8:18)

*(本叔叔实际上引用了路加福音12:48 “因为多给谁,就向谁多取;多托谁,就向谁多要。”)

因此,如果我们想要供养家人、履行十一奉献及帮助有需要的人,我们应该避免以下一些思维模式:

  • 无法忍受短期痛苦以获得长期利益

当我在慈善基金会服务期间,我看到一对经济窘迫的老年夫妇的女儿被迫放弃秘书课程,成为一名空姐来养家糊口。虽然我不认为这是一个好的决定,但我想他们别无选择。不过我确实认为,比起空姐,成为一个合格的秘书,她的潜力会更好。如今,在新冠肺炎疫情而引致的旅游限制下,该决定看似更加不明智。

若有可能,不要为了短期利益而牺牲长期潜力。

  • 不必要的支出

作为基督徒,我们不赌博。我们依靠上帝,而不是机会。我们不买彩票,因为那不是好的管家职责。虽无法获得马来西亚的数据,但您是否知道美国最贫穷的家庭平均每年在彩票上花费400美元?然而,这些家庭在任何紧急情况下却拿不出400美元。您觉得这些家庭为何愿意放弃这些积蓄去购买一张彩票?他们认为:“我无法拥有你的生活方式,而我能够冀望实现这些的唯一方法,就是赢得彩票。” 但这是百万分之一的机会。 (取自:摩根•豪泽尔(Morgan Housel)的《金钱心理学》摘录)

回到本地情景,每天有多少B-40群的吸烟者买得起10令吉的“非法”香烟? (目前的合法包装香烟价格为20令吉。)这样仍需用上每月300令吉或每年3,600令吉。相比之下,政府提供的生活援助金(Bantuan Sara Hidup)有多少钱?每年3,000令吉。这说不过去。

您有任何不必要的开支吗?一个您不使用的俱乐部的会费?

  • 即时满足

另一方面,是对即时获得满足的需求;即无法将消费延后。先前,Golf GTI 曾经是都市年轻专业人士的地位象征。今天,首选的汽车是Mercedes Benz A250,根据引擎规格而定,其价格可能超过马币250,000。我很好奇有多少雅皮士真的买得起这辆汽车呢?因汽车是一项贬值的物品,所以最好是开始先用一辆适中的汽车。若可行,以现金支付!这会将您的选择限制在您负担得起的车辆上。

避免花费本金,这可能是您来之不易的积蓄或继承的遗产;仅花费从本金赚取的收入。尤其是若您还年轻,更要如此。已经接近70、80或90岁的人,则适用另一种哲学。

  • 生活水平悄然爬升

您是否注意到我们的生活水平在悄然上升?

比方说,我们在必胜客或肯德基快餐店用餐很开心。生日庆祝会,我们去Chili’s餐厅。渐渐地,在我们意识到之前,Chili’s就成了惯例。为了庆祝一番,我们便去一家更时尚的餐厅。当主祝福我们时,享受生活的舒适并没有错。但是到某个时刻,我们必须说:“够了。” 毕竟,主说:“敬虔加上知足的心便是大利。”

至今已有好几年了,我一直拒绝去我认为过于昂贵的餐厅。例如,一些日本餐馆均可让您每人消费超过400令吉。非常昂贵的中餐厅更是不可去,除非是农历新年。

只有限制我们的生活水平,我们才能为未来储蓄和投资。还有十一奉献。

我察觉一些有这种思维方式的人很难改变他们的想法,尽管他们正经历着错误决定的后果。因此,他们注定要重蹈覆辙。不幸的是,他们决定的后果不是即时显见的,有时需要数年。在大多数情况下,其后果只会在退休后才变得明显。那时他们才惊悟。

如果您察觉到自己的生活中存有任何一种这些思维方式,请求主帮助您摆脱这陷阱。没错,这确实是一个陷阱。

祷告

我们的上帝和天父,祢是一位可畏又伟大的上帝。主啊,求祢帮助我们摆脱以上任何一种的想法。帮助我们,使我们成为祢的祝福的好管家,好让我们能够供应家庭所需之余,仍履行十一奉獻,并周济有需要的人。
当祢供应了我们一切所需,以及当我们吃饱和感到满足时,愿主祢使我们会向祢感恩,并且不忘记祢为我们所做的一切。
奉耶稣的名祈求,阿门!

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