Value is in giving more than in receiving.

The aim of any young entrepreneur is to be counted among the richest, across the world. In Zimbabwe, Strive Masiyiwa is probably an inspiration to most young people. This cannot be the aim for those who have attained spiritual freedom. The idea of accumulating material possessions is attractive to the flesh, more than it carries any value with those having attained spiritual freedom.

There is no record of Jesus ever focusing on material acquisitions. If exciting and satisfying to own properties, why did Jesus, our example, not pursue wealth? There is no other gift, surpassing that of Jesus, whose impact is still felt by the generality of humanity. Others may use His name for nefarious activities, but others use His services to positively impact other people’s lives.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony,  honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:16-23 NIV).

The rich young man’s interaction with Jesus was opportunistic. The Jews had customarily desired and had been anxious to be in God’s Kingdom. Having, probably, become convinced of Jesus’ knowledge, he submitted his innocent question; “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matt 19:16).

The question sounds like coming from one, determined to be in God’s Kingdom. But the answer given by Jesus was disappointing. That is not what he expected. The Scripture shows that the idea of keeping the Commandments had not been a problem with him.

As desiring certainty that God’s Kingdom was obtainable, the young man sought assurance from Jesus. He wanted assurance of being on the right track, to avoid losing out. He had all along assumed that value was in receiving, more than it ought to be in giving.

Jesus told him, in no uncertain terms, that value was in giving. To experience God’s Kingdom, even in this world, one ought to experience comfort in giving, than in receiving. There is an unmistakable truth in that givers enjoy life more than those receiving things for free.

A dignified person cannot enjoy surviving out of handouts, without giving anything in return. But the most miserable life is experienced by those living on handouts, without giving anything in return. Sadly, in Zimbabwe, the state of poverty has reduced most people to experience comfort in receiving, more than in giving.

Even when receiving more than necessary, receivers cannot part with possessions. This is what makes it impossible to ever experience happiness, as needs are ordinarily insatiable. No one gets satisfied with possessions, as long as assuming that possessions are significant.

The idea of materialism is so stupid, so that most people find Jesus’ statement, to that young man, unreasonable. Joy is achievable when giving, rather than when receiving. This can be experienced by anyone, without consideration of whether being religious or not.

Why does one want to achieve the state of being a billionaire? As capitalistic as Zimbabwe has become, many opportunities are there for young people to become rich. But what would be the motivating factor towards acquiring riches?

In a country as poor as Zimbabwe, it gives satisfaction to drive Lamborghinis? Anyone is free to do as they please with their income. Some rich people dangle and splash out gifts to poor people. That appears noble, but what would be the motivating factor?

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV).

Giving is not giving, as long as the motive is to receive something in return. When giving is commercialized, the aspect of giving loses its value. It is only the aspect of unconditional giving that grants dignity to an individual. The closer to God one is; the more valuable he becomes.

God’s Kingdom implies thinking like God in one’s activities. Anything short of giving unconditionally leads against attaining God’s Kingdom. It is the mindset that either grants or takes away dignity. The person loses dignity when failing to stand on the principle of giving unconditionally.

The recipient of wealth carries temporary satisfaction. He loses out, as far as God’s Kingdom is concerned. It is extremely unrealistic for anyone to desire rewards and again expect God’s Kingdom. Everything is determined by the mindset. Was the giving motivated by receiving benefits or motivated by the plight of other people’s poverty status?

The competition runs between God’s way of life and the personal way of life, pushing for financial acquisitions. Jesus spoke a great deal about the nature of this problem, emphasizing seeking God’s Kingdom, ahead of everything. His teaching should never be taken as idle.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:19-24 NIV).

Priority should be on that which provides life, than that which leads to death. Life is a spiritual matter, not sustained physically. Accordingly, death is a physical matter, materially sustained. It is, therefore, the physical matter that has an appetite for material acquisitions against spiritual aspirations, leading to life.

Life is as empty as living without benefiting anyone, except the self. The most miserable people are those lacking nothing, but uncomfortable to associate with those lacking everything. There is truth in that most people are in business for purposes of leading lifestyles of competing with the rich.

Entrepreneurship is the goal of most young people. Motivational speakers are in abundance, encouraging most young people to become rich. Youth empowerment is interpreted to mean wealth accumulation and living stylishly. Education is despised, as long as not helping anyone to acquire wealth.

Financial transactions are premised on giving and receiving, but with an intention of profiteering. Under normal circumstances, if I receive a million dollars, I ought to have contributed worth that amount, as a form of exchange. A good entrepreneur would be comfortable expending a million-dollar transaction when everything would be above board.

The only sign of a country in problem is where some people drive Lamborghinis, but without exchangeable transactions for driving them. Of course, others brag about riches, as compared to poor people. But such people die, just as poor people also die.

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life. In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them. Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:1-5 NIV).

These are powerful words of wisdom from the Book of Proverbs. The most important lesson in this life is appreciating that physical life is as temporary as the morning dew. There is no truth in physical life, as it is as replaceable as anything else. There is no difference between a dead lion and a dead dog.

“All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward, they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” (Ecclesiastes 9:2-4 NIV).

At my age, I consider myself to have reached a good old age, having observed highly respectable people who donned this planet. I have also observed notorious criminals who soiled the same planet. Such characters may be in the annals of human history, but without quantifiable benefits impacting the current civilization.

The irresistible truth is that lasting history is with those having benefited humanity. Those who lived to benefit themselves are easily forgotten, immediately after their demise. Those who gave an impact on other people’s lives become fondly remembered, thereafter.

The value of a person comes from benefitting other people. A person, who values himself, without considering other people, is insane. It can only be a raving psychotic who stands on top of a mountain declaring being the greatest person who ever lived.

A sane person does not even feel comfortable being elevated to high positions. That person seeks to elevate others, instead. It would surprise many, considering that a person as knowledgeable as Jesus could still abase Himself, among the most uneducated people.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:3-8 NIV).

Jesus had every right to boast, under the sun. He was the only God’s child, with the knowledge that none other ever possessed. The manifestation of His value was not in boasting, but in what He did for humanity, including dying on the cross.

The value of Jesus is not found in His exaltation, but in humbling Himself, according to the above Scripture. The greatness of Jesus is revealed in humility, more than His esteemed profile, although discredited by His persecutors. Rather than take it from Jesus’ behavior, Christians do the opposite.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:9-14 NIV).

The lesson obtained from Jesus is that one cannot attain greatness by doing the opposite of what Jesus did. In Jesus, there is no inclination toward self-defense. He preferred dying, rather than loading it on others, for the sake of avoiding death. He knew the meaning of death was spiritual, rather than physical.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.

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