God loves both the rich and the poor. However, it is difficult for the rich to love the Lord because they can so easily become absorbed in the things that they possess. Jesus warned that wealth can be highly dangerous. He told how difficult it was for the rich to be saved when He said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24-25). God doesn’t condemn wealth. The warning is about the attitude that an abundance of money and possessions can cause. Paul wrote, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
As Christians, we can, in Christ, share His love with others through our good acts. God has chosen and equipped us to be His instruments of support, service, and compassion. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.” In essence, God uses the small things that we do and multiples them into something significant. Paul wrote, “Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
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). In contrast to Jesus’ warning, the world tells us that greed is good. Our society makes every effort to entice us to live a materialistic lifestyle. Costly and manipulative advertising bombards us daily for the purpose of creating a desire for more and more things. We are told that we need one luxury after another. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit, will we not fall prey to the pulls of the world. God calls us to be in the world but not of the world. As John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (1 John 2:15). Through faith, we know that “the world and its desires pass away,” but those who follow the Lord will live forever. (1 John 2:17).
Living a Disciplined Lifestyle
Stewardship of Self
We Reap what We Sow
The Importance of Giving
It is not uncommon for church members to perceive in a negative way the encouragement from their church to give generously. The perception of some people is that the church is only interested in their money. Certainly, a generous giving congregation does provide the money needed by the church for its budget so the church should work hard to help people grow in their giving. However, Scripture indicates that giving is as much for the sake of the giver as it is to support the needs of the church. Pastors and church leaders understand that giving is an activity that God directs us to do. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth about the collection for God’s people, “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income. . .” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Giving blesses the both the giver and the recipient of the giving. The blessings to the recipients are obvious. Not as obvious but as important to understand is that giving enriches the life of the giver. Giving strengthens the relationship that we have with our Lord. Through our giving, we are reminded of God’s ownership and how dependent we are on Him. Giving demonstrates our faith and trust. We give as part of our worship. Giving allows us to be used by God in partnership with Him.
In God’s Word, we are told that those who give faithfully and generously will receive even more of God’s blessings. In Proverbs 3:9 we read these encouraging words, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing . . .” God blesses all people, but He wants to bless us even more for our faithful giving. “One man give freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24). Generosity is the path to blessing. By contrast, a stingy person doesn’t make any friends and hurts himself in the long run. Through the prophet Malachi, we are told again how God will bless us for our faithful giving, “‘Bring the whole tithe in 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 enough room for it’ ” (Malachi 3:10).
In the future, we need to thank church leaders who encourage us to grow in our giving. Through our giving, we are expressing thanks to God for His goodness to us. We are also helping to extend God’s kingdom through our church, providing for the needy, and enriching our own lives. As we grow spiritually and receive more of God’s blessings, we will better understand and respond to the encouragement to increase our giving.