Several years ago, I was at meeting in the renowned Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. Just across the street was the Occupy D.C. tent city (you may remember these sit-in protests in major cities that began with Occupy Wall Street.) Suddenly, during the middle of a politician’s presentation, the doors flung open, and a group of a dozen or more Occupy protesters stormed into our meeting. They were shouting about income inequality and the destruction that the rich were having on our society. Frankly, it was a bit scary, as they were very confrontational.
Since that time, I have reflected on their words and their anger. I listened as the passionate demonstrators shouted objections across the room, demanding the shift of power from the wealthiest 1% of Americans to the underrepresented 99%. It became apparent to me that their anger stemmed from their experience of wealthy people prospering as the poor are left behind.
The Bible paints a very different picture of what happens when righteous people prosper. One passage of scripture says:
"When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.” Proverbs 11:10
What I experienced at the hotel that day was the opposite of the city rejoicing—the city was protesting! So what makes the difference? I think the secret is found in what it means to be “the righteous.”
The Hebrew word for this type of people is the tsaddiqim (pronounced, ‘sod-uh-heem’). Tsaddiq (sod-eek) is the word for an individual. Let’s take a look at this special Hebrew word, what it means, and the implications for our lives and vocations.
The tsaddiqim are known for their generosity. They understand that God has blessed them so that they can be a blessing to others. They have decided that God has increased their wealth, not to raise their standard of living, but rather to raise their standard of giving. They take great pleasure in taking responsibility for the people in need in the places where they have been planted.
They have learned to “occupy” the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment and step in to be the hands and feet of Jesus to their city. They are seen as the men and women of peace, or shalom, in their communities.
Being a tssadiq is not easy. It requires tremendous passion, effort, and intentionality. The tsaddiqim are people who greatly rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives.
Amy Sherman, author of the book Kingdom Calling, says that the kind of righteousness that is demonstrated by the tsaddiqim is expressed in three different dimensions, or directions: up, in and out. They live ‘up’ by living in a humble, Godward manner, with their lives being oriented toward God and bringing Him glory above all else, with a strong eternal perspective.
They live ‘in’ by cultivating a pure heart. Life is not only about acting rightly, but also about being right inside, seeking to have both clean hands and a clean heart. And they live ‘out’ by seeking to love their neighbors as they love themselves, bringing a slice of heaven down to earth by enriching their community.
When a city is filled with tsaddiqim who are prospering, guess what happens? Rejoicing! At the National Christian Foundation, we have the privilege to serve the tsaddiqim in cities all across the country. There are many examples of the profound impact that they have made, such as the story of Jess and Angela Correll in Stanford, Kentucky, highlighted in this issue. As we help inspire biblical generosity and mobilize resources through wise giving solutions for business owners and families like the Corrells, it’s hard to imagine a finer group of people.
What if we all decided to be the tsaddiqim? Instead of hearing people complain, “When the rich get richer, the poor get poorer,” maybe we could hear our cities rejoicing and praising God for the peace we help bring to our communities.
If we all had a vision for our wealth that includes every person in our communities being reached and restored through the love of Christ, what a country we would be! David Wills
And by the way, during the raid of our meeting at the Willard Hotel, the protestors kept asking us where Newt was. There was no Newt in our meeting, and when we told them so, they didn’t believe us. Finally, they realized that they had raided the wrong meeting room! Newt Gingrich was two rooms down at a campaign fundraiser!
By: David Wills
David Wills is president of National Christian Foundation (NCF), a position he has held since 1998. David has co-authored two books, Investing in God’s Business and Family.Money., as well as numerous articles. David serves on several boards, including the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), ProVision Foundation, Global Generosity Foundation, Chick-fil-A Foundation and Generous Giving, of which he is cofounder. David and his wife, Chris, live on a farm near Atlanta with their seven children.