December 2, 2019
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Moses Montefiore was the first Jewish man to hold high office in the city of London. A friend of the royal family, he was knighted Sir Moses by Queen Victoria in 1837. That same year he was elected sheriff of London. In later life, Sir Moses became famous for his philanthropy. He made seven trips to the Holy Land, the last one at the age of ninety-one. His love for the Holy Land was demonstrated by his funding of a textile factory, a printing press, a windmill, and several agricultural colonies in Palestine.
On his one hundredth birthday, the London Times devoted its editorial page to his praise. One of those editorials recorded a remarkable exchange. Queen Victoria once asked Sir Moses, “What is the extent of your wealth? How much do you own?” Sir Moses, who had amassed a fortune through business ventures and real-estate acquisitions, told the queen it would take a few days to appraise his wealth. When he came back to the queen with a number far less than she surmised, she found it unbelievable. With a smile, Sir Moses explained, “Your majesty, my only true wealth is money that I have given to charity. Anything else I possess is merely temporary and may someday be lost or confiscated.”What you own and what you are worth are two very different things!
What’s your net worth?
One of my mentors, Dr. Robert Rhoden, defines success by making a wonderful distinction. The world measures success by how much money you make and how many people serve you. In God’s kingdom, it’s the exact opposite. Success is measured by how much you give and how many people you serve.
Net worth isn’t calculated by a stock portfolio, equity in property, or the balance in your savings account. Your net worth is the sum total of all you’ve given away, not a penny more or a penny less. I love the way author Gary Thomas frames this fundamental shift in perspective:
Thinking about eternity helps us retrieve [perspective]. I’m reminded of this every year when I figure my taxes. During the year, I rejoice at the paychecks and extra income, and sometimes I flinch when I write out the tithe and offering. I do my best to be a joyful giver, but I confess it is not always easy, especially when there are other perceived needs and wants.
At the end of the year, however, all of that changes. As I’m figuring my tax liability, I wince at every source of income and rejoice with every tithe and offering check—more income means more tax, but every offering and tithe means less tax. Everything is turned upside down, or perhaps, more appropriately, right-side up.
I suspect judgment day will be like that.
I suspect he’s right. Balance sheets will look different in eternity. The math will morph as blessings carry over! Everything else is a sunk cost.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.