Winning the Lottery

According to an article in The Sunday Times, asked what they would do if they won £101 million on the lottery, 74% of Britons said they would give up their jobs, while 20% claimed that they would continue working. 2% would give none of their winnings to friends and family; 34% would give them up to £10 million; 19% between £10 million and £20 million, while 30% would give more than £20 million. The average amount people would immediately spend on themselves is £2.4 million; they would also give £11 million to charity and invest £37 million.

Were such a massive sum of money to come your way, how would you spend it? Would you simply tithe your winnings, and then spend the rest of the money on yourself and then spend the rest of yourself and your loved ones? Or would you follow the example of the American mega-pastor Rick Warren, who when he became a millionaire as a result of writing The Purpose Driven Life, resolved to reverse-tithe, in the sense that he now gives away 90% of his income, and lives on the remaining 10%? Or would you be even more radical and give away almost everything?

In 1731 John Wesley began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year of doing this he recorded that his income was £30 and his living expenses £28, so he had £2 to give away. The next year his income doubled, but he still lived on £28 and gave £32 away. The in the third year, his income jumped to £90; again he lived on £28, giving away £62. The fourth year, he made £120, lived on £28 and gave £92 away. And when his income eventually rose to just over £1,400, he gave away all but £30. Wesley preached that Christians should not merely tithe, but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of. He believed that, with increasing income, the Christian’s standard of giving should increase, not his standard of living.

If I am honest, I am not sure what I would do precisely with my new-found wealth. In the present context of our church’s desire to acquire the heritage building next door for use as a community centre, would certainly pay the £5 million to make that possible. I would probably give £10 to the Baptist ministers’ pension scheme to help them fill their present ‘black hole’. And, of course, I would ensure that I paid off my children’s mortgages and gave them some financial security.

Yet all this is hypothetical. The present challenge is not how I would handle winning the lottery, but rather how I handle the money with which God has entrusted me today.

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