We looked at some hard facts last week about the Church and giving, you can read that post here. We discovered that what we do with our money is an indicator to our Heavenly Father if He can trust us with true riches.
Let’s look at what Jesus said.
“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” -Luke 12:15
In other passages, Jesus warned people about worrying over their possessions. Why does Jesus tell us to guard our hearts against greed? He never tells us to guard our hearts against lying, immorality, pride, or stealing. So why greed?
I know when I lie, steal, or behave immorally because these acts are clear choices I make. The reason Jesus tells us to guard our hearts against greed is because we may not really know if we are greedy unless we are evaluating our hearts in God’s presence.
As Timothy Keller wrote in “Counterfeit Gods,” “For Jesus, greed is not only love of money, but excessive anxiety about it.” We are worried about our bank accounts because we are thinking wrongly about what we possess.
Jesus tells us that “‘life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” To “consist” of your possessions is to be defined by what you own and consume—that you derive your ultimate meaning in life from money and what it can do instead of in Jesus Christ and obedience to His purposes.
Paul understood this, and he led a lifestyle that let God use his resources for whatever purpose God wanted. Listen to Paul, practically living out the reality of how he used his money.
“So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” -2 Corinthians 12:15a
Paul is saying to the Corinthians that his resources are available for whatever God wants to do.
It’s easy to look at these biblical insights and say, “Yes, but Paul didn’t have a family or children or responsibility.” God knows about your life and responsibilities, and you can be assured that God cares more for your family than you do. He knows what each person needs, and Jesus still said, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed ... .”
We all know that money is part of our lives, and we need it to do good things and to carry out God’s work. So it’s important to realize that money is not the issue. The issue is the heart and its desire to be in control of your life and circumstances.
No one likes to be poor, yet the poor are rich in faith (James 2:5). I consider myself a rich man, but there is no doubt in my mind that many of those faithful, poor brothers and sisters will be closer to Jesus for all eternity than I will be because of their rich faith and trust in God’s plan for their lives.
That’s where true riches come from—a depth of trust in God alone.
But I also thank God for those who are wealthy who love our Lord passionately and give to make His name great in the world.
All of us—poor and wealthy—must guard our hearts against all forms of greed. We cannot let money be the driving agenda for our lives. There is only one Lord, and He is Lord of all.
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John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.