No matter how hard we try, we will never completely overcome our selfishness and greed. Even though Scripture tells us that worldly treasures can’t provide us with any real security, we don’t always distinguish between providing responsibly for our future needs and selfish hoarding. Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). What we acquire in this life will at some time be lost; however, what we do for Christ will last forever. Jesus also said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25).
Jesus gives us guidance as to how we should be giving to the needy. “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 6:3). He is telling us not to do good works that will give us glory. When we do good works to be admired and to win the approval of other people, we are serving only ourselves and not God. God rewards good works that are done without seeking any kind of reward. Our rewards given to us by God’s grace may be received in this lifetime, or we may receive them only in the life to come in Heaven.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Jesus is the light of the world. He became one of us to overcome the darkness of sin, wickedness, and unbelief. As Christians, we are the light of the world because we reflect the light of Jesus. When we live our lives in such a way that people are able to see the difference Christ makes in us, our lights shine brightly. Interestingly, Jesus does not say that He wants us to be lights. He tells us that we are lights because He has changed us into people who live to glorify and serve Him. With God’s strength, our lights will never be darkened but will shine brightly.
Through His prophet Malachi, God invites us to put Him to the test. He says to us, “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it’” (Malachi 3:10). God wants us to give generously, and He promises to bless us graciously and abundantly in return. We will be blessed spiritually, and, in His sovereignty, God may even choose to bless some of us materially. As we put Him to the test through our giving, we express our gratitude, faith, and obedience which pleases God.
King David said, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). David knew the importance of giving to God something meaningful or of value. David felt that his giving should cost him something. When we give sacrificially, as David did, we understand that it has less to do with how much we give than how much we give up. To give sacrificially means that we give something we love to something we love even more. For example, we value our money, but we value God’s love for us even more.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). This verse does not have to be taken literally to mean that we must smile when we give. However, it does say that we are to give our gifts from hearts filled with joy and gratitude for all the blessings from God. Gifts from the heart are given joyfully rather than as an obligation. We give cheerfully and willingly because, through faith, we acknowledge that all we have God has given to us, and we want to return to Him a portion of those gifts.
In Luke 12:21, Jesus predicted disappointment for those who are not “rich toward God.” Have you wondered what it means to be “rich toward God”? Certainly, we are rich toward God when we see everything as a gift from Him. Those who are rich toward God are givers rather than takers. By grace, we freely receive, and we freely give. Through faith, we are empowered to express God’s love and are being rich toward Him as we love our neighbors. Those who are rich toward God will seek first His righteousness and do His will.
Christian giving comes more from the heart than it does from the pocketbook. Through faith, we understand that God is the source of all good things. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). He has blessed us with our physical lives and life forever with Him. Through our giving, we express. “Thank You, thank you, dear God.” Our faithful giving honors and worships the Lord.
Under-giving our moneyOn the Lighter Side
Living a Disciplined Lifestyle
Stewardship of Self
We Reap what We Sow
Living for Jesus
Martin Luther said, “If someone would knock on my heart and ask, ‘Who lives here?’ I would say, ‘Martin Luther once lived here, but he has moved out and Jesus has moved in.’ ” Martin Luther lived for Jesus. In Galatians 2:20 the apostle Paul wrote that he, too, lived for Jesus. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.”
Who or what do you live for? If we live for ourselves and the things of the world, we will focus our attention and energy on amassing more and more things. It is easy for money and possessions to become overly important because our society tells us that more is better and that happiness and success can only be achieved by having the newest and best things. To find happiness and success, we work long and hard.
King Solomon, who was wealthy and wise, tried almost everything and found no satisfaction with things of the world. In Ecclesiastes, he tells us that he tried wine and women; he built houses, gardens, and parks; he bought slaves, herds and flocks, and amassed silver and gold. “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure . . . Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). Regarding money, Solomon wrote, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless” (vs. 5:10).
In closing the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment . . .” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). The only thing that finally gave Solomon’s life purpose was living for God. Likewise, we as Christians understand that Jesus is the only person who can give us lasting peace, comfort, and security. He alone meets our needs. Jesus’ tremendous sacrifice showed us His love for us and His love compels us to love Him and live for Him. Filled with Jesus’ presence in our lives, we are empowered to overcome the pull of the world.