As a young man and a young Christian I wanted to discern the teachings of the church in regard to wealth. Wealth is a particularly important thing to a young, well-educated, and ambitious young man.
So I had my questions, Jesus wasn’t really against wealth was he? Did God really want me to sell everything and give to the poor? Did I need to take a vow of poverty, forsake retirement and health insurance? Surely there was a place for the American dream in the life of Christianity?
I still don’t have all the answers to these questions. What I eventually concluded was something like a Christian version of modesty when it comes to wealth. As long as you weren’t too attached and you gave, you had the right to pursue whatever you wanted.
My views were/are impoverished on a number of levels. I only recently realized that the passages on wealth are often juxtaposed against wealth toward God. Wealth for oneself versus generosity toward God specifically. Not just wealth in terms of money, but wealth in terms of time and commitment. Not just personal prayer and devotion but measured by generosity/attention towards the things of God. The everyday kindnesses, the keeping of commitments, the faithfulness, the kindness, love, and self-control. Or in other words everything pure, noble, true, and right. Not just in vocation but family life and recreation time. God even invades into ME TIME.
With all of life how generous are you towards God? What shapes your day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute? Do you use your own creativity to offer back to God everything under the sun? Are you rich in your generosity with the Father? Is your life filled with the richness of God?
Consider these words from Luke 12:15-21:
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Our wealth isn’t ours to use. Our leisure isn’t ours to use. Seek first the kingdom and everything else will be provided. In other words the promise is that everything you truly need and will truly desire will be fulfilled because of or in-spite of the circumstances. True freedom comes from the Father, not from anyone or anything else.
May the Lord cause you to be rich and generous with your time and energies towards those who have placed demands on you today (wife, child, friend, boss, etc).
In everlasting peace,