The Things We Love: Prosperity vs. Generosity

Money in and of itself is not good or bad. However, the value we place on money reveals much about our hearts. I always think about this topic when I hear about record Powerball payouts. Many of us (yes I’m guilty too) go out to purchase at least one ticket. Then we begin to dream about how we would spend our new found wealth. If we had all the money we could ever need, how easy would it be to give it away? Money has the ability to take hold of us and change us if we are not careful. This is why the Bible so often warns us about money specifically.

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:10

When we love money and all that it can offer us, it begins to take priority in our lives. We become consumed with getting more, buying more, and having more. This focus on ourselves can make us resent God’s commands to give to those in need. When we keep our money to ourselves, give out of obligation, or give resentfully we are prioritizing it above God. The discomfort we experience when we resist God can either lead to a change of heart or cause us to push him away.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:24

Obtaining wealth is a pursuit in selfishness if we don’t balance it with generous giving. God wants us to give to those in need because through our giving we are acting as his hands and feet. It is a witness to others about where our priorities are. God cares for all and wants to see everyone’s needs to be provided, both physical and spiritual. We are not only asked to give for the good of others, but for our own benefit as well. There is no better remedy for selfishness than charity. When we give with a glad heart both giver and receiver are blessed. We are reminded of how much we already have. We can see all of the blessings God has poured into our lives. We develop an appreciation of people rather than things. This is why Jesus tells us:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

I know many of us do not have what we consider to be wealth, but wealth is perspective. Giving is an act of faith. It demonstrates that we trust God to provide for us. In fact the less we have the greater the significance. This is beautifully described in the account of the widow’s offering.

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4

We always have something to give. Those in financial need can still can give of themselves, helping to fill the spiritual needs of others. Giving our time, our talents, and our love in service to others is pleasing to God and helps grow his kingdom. Regardless of what we give, it matters how we give. We live in a world that craves recognition for doing good. We can be tempted to brag on ourselves to others, post it on social media, or make a video drawing attention to our generosity. As soon as we do this we have taken the focus from where it belongs and again made it about ourselves. Our motives matter to God.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:2-4

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