26 Sep Command Those Who Are Rich
Paul instructed Timothy to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). Timothy was to constantly share the word—when it was convenient and when it wasn’t. Paul challenged him to “correct, rebuke, and encourage” those whom God had placed in his care.
Paul strongly urges Timothy to, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:17-18).
The word, “command” feels very uncomfortable in the context of a Christian nonprofit. We can see how this might work in a church setting when the pastor preaches through 1 Timothy—and doesn’t overlook chapter 6—but it’s hard to know what it looks like one-on-one with a donor.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a blog about how individuals with six-figure incomes are spending themselves into financial ruin. They gave a sample budget of a hypothetical family with a gross income of $400,000. It looked like this:
This sample budget only suggests giving $5,000 or 1.25% of the individual’s gross income. If you have the gift of giving, you may look at this budget and find lots of ways to redirect dollars into the kingdom. If the Wall Street Journal article is even close to reality, it demonstrates we need to challenge people to lay up treasures in heaven, instead of stockpiling them here on earth.
The question is, “How do we command someone to ‘be generous and willing to share’”? (1 Tim. 6:18). Recently a very generous lady reported that lately she has been getting phone calls and personal visits from development staff who accost her with, “You need to give to this project.” “You’ve got a lot of money, you ought to give it to our ministry.” Perhaps these major gift officers were trying to “command those who are rich,” but their attitude and approach drove the donor away.
The golden rule even applies to fundraising, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matt. 7:12). That includes asking for a gift. We should “say unto others what you would have them say unto you.” Solomon reminds us, “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone” (Prov. 25:15).
It’s important to be specific when you ask for a gift, but it’s just as important to frame your request with grace. “Would you pray about a gift of $10,000 to help us with this project?” “Would you consider a gift of $100,000 to our campaign?” “We will be grateful for whatever the Lord lays on your heart.”
Many Christians are caught in the “deceitfulness of wealth” (Mark 4:19). Perhaps by asking for a gift for your ministry, God can use you to speak truth into their lives—when it’s comfortable, and when it’s not.