Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist
Earlier we discussed the fact that everything we possess today was either given to us as a direct gift from God or is in our personal portfolio as the result of a gift exchange. We have traded from the inventory we were first allotted for the acquired possessions we now have. But the basic commodities that we used as trading materials for everything else were given to us.
We did not purchase our time allotment which we now hold as a possession; it was given to us. We did not negotiate for our physical characteristics; we inherited them. We did not bargain on the open market for the basic intellectual capacities; we received them as a gift. We did not ardently go to battle and finally win the power to choose; indeed, that power was given to us. Even the environment in which we move and perform our trading activities came to us as part of our inheritance.
Ultimately, there is only one source of all possessions, one sole proprietor of all that exists whether ordinary or yet to be discovered. That makes for a very interesting economic model. But isn’t it amazing how quickly and how completely we presume that we are totally entitled to all that is in our portfolio? Our daily behavior reveals that we totally own it all without encumbrance.
Then comes the interior economic admonition for us to take that which is in our portfolios and give it to someone who is in need so that he can become better off.
Everything we have has come from you, and we only give you what is yours already! (1Chron. 29:14)
Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. (1 Timothy 6:18)
Your care for others is the measure of your greatness. (Luke 9:48)
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. (2 Corinth. 9:11)
In my research I discovered that the practice of selfless giving to the needs of others was not just a suggestion, but an integral characteristic of the economics of the interior model. The expectation to give generously, however, was accompanied by a residual benefit:that which you gave away would be replaced with even more, in the form of a heavenly compensating deposit from God’s economy, so that you could duplicate the experience again and again.
For God, who gives seed to the farmer to plant, and later on good crops to harvest and eat, will give you more and more seed to plant, and will make it grow so that you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest. (2 Corinth. 9:10)
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (1 Corinth. 4:2)
For the man who uses well what he is given shall be given more, and he shall have abundance. (Matt. 25:29)
Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. (Luke 6:38)
During my reading assignment of the Holy Scriptures I became abruptly aware of why it is necessary to label it God’s economy. There would be no other way in all the earth to keep track of how all this was to work out. For example, if we were to respond in obedience and give away out of our earthly portfolios to some situation of need, how would we, or anyone else, ever know what would be needed to be deposited back into our account as a compensation? I learned that the things that are deposited back into our portfolios are exactly the things needed for our next episode of giving out. The compensation is determined by the next situations of need. God determines the amount, kind, and timing of the compensating deposits. We are responsible only for the current inventory in our portfolio.
In the early 1970s, when Anna Marie and I decided to give our wealth away and start over on the economic model of the interior, we gave away what would in today’s values be worth approximately one hundred million dollars. Did God deposit back into our portfolio prime real estate, financial instruments, and cash? No, he was much wiser and more creative. He did, however, deposit into our portfolio the concept and inspiration for an entity of goodness called Project C.U.R.E. that has saved thousands and thousands of lives around the world, and has donated in excess of one billion dollars’ worth of medical goods to needy hospitals and clinics in nearly 150 countries.
If you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t. (2 Corinth 8:12)
Day by day the Lord observes the good deeds done by godly men, and gives them eternal rewards. He cares for them when times are hard; even in famine, they will have enough . . . I have been young and now I am old. And in all my years I have never seen the children of the godly go hungry. Instead, the godly are able to be generous with their gifts and loans to others, and their children are a blessing. (Psalm 37:18-19, 25-26)
It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the generous man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself. (Proverbs 11:24-25)
Is it possible, in this model of the economics of the interior, that all the stuff I possess has been given to me and I simply have the power of attorney, along with a fiduciary responsibility, to see to it that I do not hoard that inventory, but utilize it to see that other people in this world end up being better off?
The Lord will give you an abundance of good things in the land, just as he promised: many children, many cattle, and abundant crops. He will open to you his wonderful treasury of rain in the heavens, to give you fine crops every season. He will bless everything you do: and you shall lend to many nations . . . (Deut. 28:11-13)
Those who love and follow me are indeed wealthy. I fill their treasuries. (Proverbs 8:21)
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so that there will be food enough in my Temple: if you do, I will open up the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have room enough to take it in!
“Try it! Let me prove it to you! Your crops will be large, for I will guard them from insects and plagues. Your grapes won’t shrivel away before they ripen,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land sparkling with happiness. These are the promises of the Lord of Hosts.” (Malachi 3:10-12)
Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. (1 Timothy 6: 17-18)
We have been given a marvelous invitation. The one who has given first and is the sole proprietor of everything that exists has asked us to join him in a life-changing adventure of giving. It is the basis of the economics of the interior model.
In the earlier chapters we agreed that people succeed in a free enterprise system only to the extent that they make other people better off. So it is likewise true when it comes to success regarding the economic system of the interior. You, personally, as well as the entire model, will be successful to the same degree that other people become better off. And we have the opportunity through our management of living and giving to see other people become better off.
Goodness is the created wealth of God’s economy, and we get to be a part of that!
Next Week: You Can’t Manipulate God
(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)
© Dr. James W. Jackson
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House
Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."
As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson.