Last Sunday, I was in the city of Manila speaking for one of the many Victory churches in the Philippines. The Victory church network there was addressing the subject of wealth in a series entitled The Fine Line. My speaking assignment was on what the Bible has to say about selfishness and generosity. Let me share a bit of what I shared with the Filipinos on this subject.
My Bible text was from First Timothy 6:17-19a. “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainly of riches but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them (the rich) to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future…”
First of all, those who are rich need to be aware that the love of money has a strong tendency to affect their attitude and motives adversely. Watch out for attitude of becoming conceited or prideful. That’s a trap. The second trap to watch out for is the motivation of loving money more than God or others. That’s called the spirit of accumulation or greed. Having money for money’s sake. We all have seen this motivation in action, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.” That’s called plundering.
Godly wisdom says money is not evil but the love of money is. If a rich person can’t handle money, money will end up handling them. Money is a wonder servant but a terrible master. What God blesses as a supplement, God curses as a substitute. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. When money becomes an object of ardent worship, that’s idolatry or faith in money. When that happens, the rich person just became the tail and money became the dog. Money will then make them into its image.
What does God say to those who are rich? Let me put it in today’s language. Money and wealth are high octane. Use but use wisely. Don’t make the treasure your pleasure. Make the Treasurer your pleasure. Use riches for good. Be generous. Be ready to share with others. Your money is not your money. It’s God’s money. The opportunity to be wealthy is privilege and a responsibility, not a right. Don’t shut your eyes and ears to those in need. Don’t put a sign on your door that says, “Don’t bother me. I’m living happily ever after!”
Notice in the verses above that God richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. It’s OK for those who are rich to enjoy their money but then God goes on to tell them how they can enjoy their money even more; do good, be ready to share when others have needs and be generous. In other words, use your money for good. Enjoy it and employ it in doing good, being generous and be ready to share when God gives you the green light.
True giving is a response to God, not a demand by God. God loves a cheerful giver because God is a cheerful giver. Generosity is the privilege to express the gratitude of our hearts to God for the grace that God has already given to us. Generosity is thanksgiving. Thanks first to God for what He has entrusted you with and then giving time and money to those in need. Giving is a response to God’s goodness for what He has given us. In other words, we give because it’s our nature to give when God is in control of our lives. We give because God gave to us.
You might be saying to yourself. “Did you hear that rich people? You need to do that!” Do you realize most everyone is rich who lives in a first world country? With few exceptions, the poor in the United States are rich compared to most in the world. This message is for us all. God, awaken our hearts to serve, do good and be generous as a response for your grace and goodness to us.
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