If you’ve been struggling with financial lack, here’s some news that may surprise you: The solution to your problem is not more money.
Most people will tell you it is, but they’re wrong.
Poverty—or lack of any kind—is not a money problem. It’s a spiritual problem that came on mankind through the curse of sin, and it can only be solved by a revelation of what Jesus did about it on the cross. It can only be conquered by renewing your mind to the fact that “…though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
In the 46 years I’ve been in ministry, I’ve been shocked to see how dramatically that scriptural truth can transform people. When they stop believing what the world says about their financial condition and start believing what God said, poverty completely loses its hold on them. They move out of the landfill into the boardroom. They become living testimonies to the fact that God “raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people” (Psalm 113:7-8).
I’ve seen it happen again and again. Not just in prosperous nations like America, but in some of the most poverty-stricken places on this planet.
Take Nigeria, for instance. Some years ago, I was there preaching at Bishop Benson Idahosa’s church and he arrived to pick me up for the service in a snow-white Mercedes limousine. It was one of the most beautiful cars I’d ever seen, and in a nation where in those days even a bicycle was considered a luxury, it was a sign and wonder on wheels.
I know how Bishop Idahosa, who has since gone home to be with The LORD, operated in ministry. He lived by faith and taught the people in his church to do the same. So I knew there must be a story behind this car.
As we drove through the streets, the story began to unfold. Pointing to the ragged-looking peddlers along the roadside, Bishop Idahosa said, “You see those people? They’re selling used motor oil. It’s cleaned up and filtered and then they sell it cheap to people who don’t have enough money to buy new oil.”
I could tell just by looking at them it was a miserable business. The poor selling to the poor, and everyone staying poor in the process. So, Bishop Idahosa’s next statement was a stunner.
“The woman who gave me this car used to be one of those peddlers,” he said. “She was living on pennies a day, but then she got hold of The WORD of God. She found out that Jesus had delivered her from poverty and learned about sowing and reaping. She believed it and started acting on it. Before long, God put her in the real oil business. She went from selling the used stuff to selling the real thing—in a big way!”
I didn’t have to ask him if she was successful at it. I was riding in the answer to that question. Clearly, God had done for that woman what no amount of charitable handouts ever could have. He’d lifted her out of poverty, not by sending people to give her money, but by sending her His WORD to get the poverty out of her!
Good News for the Poor
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not against giving to those in need. On the contrary, I’m highly in favor of it. I make it a priority in my life and ministry because Jesus did. What’s more, I love it. It’s a joy. But even so, I’m always aware that just giving someone money cannot solve the poverty problem in his or her life.
If it could, Luke 4:18 would read differently. Jesus would have said there, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to raise money for the poor.”
But that’s not what He said. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor….”
What is the gospel to the poor? It’s the good news that we don’t have to be poor anymore because Jesus set us free. He bore the curse of poverty for us so THE BLESSING of Abraham could be ours through Him.
I’ll never forget how thrilled I was when I first heard this. I thought it was so wonderful that everyone would be as excited about it as I was. But once I started preaching it, I found that wasn’t the case. One missionary in an impoverished country where I went to minister actually ordered me not to even mention that part of the gospel. “Don’t preach to these people about prospering,” she said. “Don’t tell them about sowing and reaping. They’re too poor to be giving anything to anyone.”
It apparently didn’t occur to her that some 2,000 years earlier people said the same thing about the believers in Macedonia. According to the Bible, those believers were in “deep poverty.” They weren’t just on food stamps. They were poor in a way that most of us can’t even imagine. Yet, when they heard that Paul was receiving an offering to help Christians in another city, they begged him to let them give.
Why did they have to beg? Because the same warped idea prevailed back then that prevails today. People thought poor folks shouldn’t be expected to give in an offering because giving would leave them more poverty-stricken than ever.
That’s the kind of thinking that keeps poor people poor! But the Macedonians refused to buy in to it. They wanted to give and they would not be denied. As a result, Paul wrote this about them in 2 Corinthians 8:2-5:
In a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
Look again at that last sentence. It says the Macedonian believers had such a desire to be a blessing to others that they gave whatever they could—including their own selves! They said, “Here I am! Just tell me what I can do to help. Show me what I can do to be of service. I may not have much money but I’ll give my time. I’ll give my strength. Just let me give!”
Do you know what Paul called that? He called it the “grace” of giving; and he encouraged other believers to abound in it by following the Macedonians’ example.
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work (2 Corinthians 8:9, 9:6-8).
Start Paying Attention
Think about this: Those verses were written, not about rich people but about the poorest of the poor. They were written about people in deep poverty who had almost nothing to give except themselves. Yet, Paul said God would multiply the seed they sowed until they were rich enough to abound to every good work!
“Well, I just don’t see how that could happen,” you might say.
Then you need to read Matthew 14, because the Bible shows us there exactly how it happens. It tells about a time when Jesus made His own disciples rich enough to feed thousands of hungry people, even though just minutes earlier those disciples didn’t have enough for dinner themselves. You probably remember the story.
It took place out in the middle of the desert. Jesus had gone there to be alone and the multitudes had followed Him. He was so moved with compassion for them that He ended up having an all-day healing meeting. About sunset, His disciples started to get nervous. After all, they were out in the middle of nowhere—no food, no water, in a dangerous place.
So what did they do? They interrupted the meeting. They came up to Jesus, who for hours had been healing people of all kinds of sickness and disease, and said, “This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals” (Matthew 14:15).
At the time, I’m sure the disciples thought this statement made perfect sense. But in reality, it was ridiculous. Did they really think Jesus, who had been working miracles all day, would be unable to figure out what to do about supper? Did they think He had lost track of time, or that He’d forgotten they were in a desert?
The very idea is ludicrous. Yet, if we’re honest, we have to admit we can relate. We all know what it’s like to face problems that seem so big they’re all we can see. We’ve all felt the pressure that comes from thinking panicky thoughts like, If I’m late on this payment, they’re going to come get my car! What am I going to do?
Here’s a good thing to remember: When you start thinking, What am I going to do? you’ve already missed it. You need to stop and realize that God isn’t dependent on your ability. Just because something looks hard to you doesn’t mean it’s hard for Him. For Him all things are possible!
The disciples should have known this, and they would have if they’d been focused on what Jesus was doing and saying that day. But their fear about the food shortage had distracted them. They weren’t paying attention…until Jesus made this attention-grabbing statement.
“The multitudes don’t need to depart. You give them something to eat.”
Suddenly the disciples were all ears.
What? You’ve got to be kidding! they must have thought.
“All we have is five loaves and two fishes!” they told Jesus.
“Bring them here to Me,” Jesus answered.
An Easy Command to Obey
If you want to know how God pulls people out of the landfill of poverty and promotes them to the boardroom of abundance, there it is, right there. He says to all of us what Jesus said to His disciples that day. “Bring what you have to Me.”
Some people think that’s a hard command to obey, but it’s really not. Once you have a revelation of what Jesus wants to do for you, once you really believe that on the cross He became poorer than any person ever, that He bore the curse of poverty so that you could become as rich as He is, it’s easy to put what you have in His hands.
Even if you don’t have a penny to your name, you’ll be so eager to give something to Jesus you’ll go outside somewhere, find a decent-looking rock, polish it up and bring it to Him. You’ll be like the Macedonians and make an offering out of yourself!
Why? Because you know He’ll do the same thing for you that He did for His disciples when they handed Him those few loaves and fish. He’ll take what you give Him and bless it; and as Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”
THE BLESSING of The LORD is what turned the disciples’ paltry provisions into an “all-you-can-eat” meal for the multitudes. THE BLESSING is what caused the food to multiply in the disciples’ hands so that, as they gave it to the people, “they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full” (Matthew 14:20).
Will THE BLESSING do the same for you in your situation?
Yes, it will!
All you have to do is cooperate with it by putting faith in God’s WORD. Believe what He said about your financial condition instead of what the world says. Then bring what you have to Him and say, “LORD, what do You want me to do? Who do You want me to feed? Who do You want me to serve?”
It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting there with five empty pockets and holes in every one of them. It doesn’t matter if the hour is late and you’re stuck out in the middle of a financial desert. Get yourself off your mind and determine to be a blessing to someone else. Give God something to multiply in your life.
He can make the desert bloom like a rose right where you’re standing. He can turn your nothing into a Garden of Eden; and He can do it before you can say, “Bless it again!”
But it has to start inside you first. So grab your Bible and renew your mind. Take the water of The WORD and wash away every trace of that old poverty mentality. Move out of the landfill of lack and into the boardroom of abundance. As a joint heir with Jesus, that’s where you belong.