I’ve already written posts commenting on two of four gospel oriented attitudes about wealth. I think it is important to avoid some extremes when speaking of money, and our excesses. The legalistic approach claims that wealth in and of itself is evil, and that Christians should not have money or wealth. The problem with this approach is that it does not jive with the narrative of the Bible. God blesses and uses many wealthy people, both in the Old and New Testaments (Abraham, David, Solomon, Joseph of Arimithea, Barnabus). The flip side of this, though, is to see wealth as a promised blessing that God has made to all followers of Jesus, resulting in people pursuing wealth and seeing God as little more than an avenue to blessing and prosperity.
Jesus made the claim that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24). This statement came after Jesus asked a rich man to give his wealth away and come follow Jesus. The man went away sad, because he was wealthy and did not want to give up his lifestyle. The story illustrates the reality that wealth can become a huge barrier to the Gospel, because we as humans tend to be a dam rather than a river with our money and possessions. Think about it, a dam is built to raise the level of a river, pool the water, and form a lake. A river flows freely wherever the water takes it. While this is a bit of a crass illustration, the point is that our tendency is to create a dam and pool our wealth rather than seeing ourselves as a river through whom God can bless so many others.
Generosity is so important in the life of a follower of Jesus, because this attitude is a demonstration of the heart of God. God is the owner of all, but he freely gave. Grace flows from the generosity of Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only Son (John 3:16). God is a giving God. Throughout the Bible, God pours blessings on those whom He chooses. These blessings come in a multitude of forms, but the underlying truth is that whomever God blesses he does this so that they can be a blessing. Blessed to be a blessing. The water of God’s blessings flow into us, but we are to be a river so that any and all blessings flow through us.
Intentional generosity means that you are cultivating the mindset that God has blessed you to be a blessing. When I do this with my wealth, it is a step toward the heart of God and the generosity of grace. We will never reach the point where we can fully understand the blessings of God, and the call to generosity. And we will never outgive God! But we all need to find avenues for generosity, ways to give away money and possessions for His purposes.
While there are a litany of good causes where generosity is needed, the Bible calls us to generosity in three key areas. First, we are to be generous with the poor, broken, hurting, and people experiencing injustices. Second, we are called to be generous in our giving to the church. Third, we need to practice generosity by giving to missions causes for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. I would encourage you to examine your giving habits and nurture the attitude of generosity by making sure you are giving generously in all three of these areas. Find a good social justice ministry or get involved with someone living in poverty in your neighborhood. Give to your church regularly. And find a missions agency that sends missionaries around the world and give to support them.
Here are some verses about the Gospel attitude of generosity.
- 1 Timothy 6:17-19
- 1 John 3:17
- Deuteronomy 15:11
- 2 Corinthians 8:1-3
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
- Ephesians 4:28
- Luke 16:19-31
- Isaiah 3:13-16
- Psalm 41:1
- Proverbs 28:27
- Proverbs 22:9
- Matthew 19:21-22
- Matthew 25:35-40
- Malachi 3:6-12
“The flip side of this, though, is to see wealth as a promised blessing that God has made to all followers of Jesus, resulting in people pursuing wealth and seeing God as little more than an avenue to blessing and prosperity.”
Check out the demo on this site… (http://www.justinpeters.org) – Mr. Peters spoke at my church on this and comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur.