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The Bible is clear. We’re called to take care of our families first. But is that all contentment means? Is there more to this idea of having “enough” in our lives?
Dave’s new book, The Legacy Journey, which released October 21, discusses the idea of contentment and what it means to have “enough” from a biblical perspective, as well as other issues, like family legacy, generosity and how God wants you to use His blessings for His glory.
So, what’s it mean to have enough—and how does my contentment affect the world around me? Here’s Dave’s answer, in an excerpt from The Legacy Journey.
The key question when it comes to contentment is “How much is enough for you?” That’s a huge question, and it’s a question that people will crawl out of the woodwork to answer for you. When you have a little wealth, it’s amazing how many people will suddenly appear to tell you what you should do with it. More than that, though, they’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do with it. And too often, what they say you shouldn’t do with it is enjoy it. Thank goodness it’s none of their business.
How Big Is Your Chalice?
Back in Chapter 2, I mentioned my friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin and his book Thou Shall Prosper. Like I said before, that book had a huge impact on me because it makes such a clear, compelling case for the morality of building wealth—as long as you do it from an unselfish, non-greedy, biblical perspective. In his book, Rabbi Lapin lays out specific principles that Jewish people have used to win with money for thousands of years. Using those Old Testament principles as a lens, I’ve been able to look at the New Testament teachings with fresh eyes and see things I’ve never seen before. I’ve also discovered a whole new way to view the contentment issue—in an image that illustrates this more beautifully and clearly than anything I’ve ever seen. It’s an ancient Jewish ceremony called the Havdalah, and Rabbi Lapin explains it this way:
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Jewish tradition strongly establishes the principle that each person makes his or her own needs the primary concern, although not the only concern. One could say that Judaism declares it necessary but insufficient to focus on one’s own needs first. As the Sabbath ebbs away each Saturday night, Jewish families prepare for the productive work week ahead by singing the joyful Havdalah service. This observance divides the Sabbath from the upcoming work week and asks God to increase both the families’ offspring and their wealth. It also highlights their hands, as if to beseech blessing on the work of those very hands. The Havdalah service is recited over a cup of wine that runs over into the saucer beneath. This overflowing cup symbolizes the intention to produce during the week ahead not only sufficient to fill one’s own cup, but also an excess that will allow overflow for the benefit of others. In other words, I am obliged to first fill my cup and then continue pouring as it were, so that I will have sufficient to give away to others.1
So you fill up your own cup first, which symbolizes taking care of your own household first (1 Timothy 5:8). That’s what “enough” is for your family—whatever it takes to fill that cup. And then you keep pouring so you have plenty to give to others. I love this image. A pastor friend gave me a chalice and saucer years ago, so in some of my live events and video classes, I use that to demonstrate what it looks like to fill your own cup first. Once the wine reaches the lip of the cup, it flows over the top and down the sides of the chalice and fills the bowl. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, especially if you see it as a metaphor for taking care of your own family and then the needs of other people.
But here’s what I want you to understand about the Havdalah in light of this discussion on contentment: No one else can tell you how big your chalice should be. The size of your cup in this metaphor is 100 percent between you and God. There is no concrete, cookie-cutter answer for what “enough” looks like for every family. The top of the Havdalah cup doesn’t have a dollar amount written on it that says you can have this much but no more. It’s different for every family. A couple of hints though: First, if your family is lacking because of your extreme giving, then your cup might be too small. It isn’t a thimble; it’s a cup. Second, if there is never any overflow to help others, then your cup might be too big. It isn’t a swimming pool; it’s a cup.
Only you and God can decide how much is enough for you. After all, He gave you this wealth in the first place. He is your loving Father who loves to give His children good gifts. He adores you, and He knows what’s best for you. He can see where you’ll be in twenty years, and He can see the impact of every decision you’ve ever made or will ever make. He holds your life in His nail-scarred hands. He gets to decide the size of your chalice—no one else.
Learn more about how to build wealth and what God wants you to do with it once you have it. Take the journey and order your copy of The Legacy Journey today!