In the book of Ecclesiastes the Teacher writes, “money is the answer for everything” (Ecclesiastes 10:19 NIV).
It’s difficult to disagree with him.
If we had more money we wouldn’t need to worry about things like mortgages, loans, petrol, food, the ever increasing cost of heating, that night out with friends which ended up costing us more than we expected… The list is as endless as our worries.
The Teacher speaks true: “money is the answer for everything.”
But money isn’t everything.
It can’t be.
It isn’t capable of bearing that enormous weight.
And it’s a cruel master if we choose to serve it.
It has an all consuming hunger for more which hides behind the mask of rationalisation, “If only I had a little more I would be content…” and is shrouded in a cloak of good intentions, “With more money I would finally be able to support charities which so badly need it…” But no matter how much we accumulate the rationalisations and good intentions remain smothered beneath our insatiable desire for more. If we are not faithful with a little, we will not be faithful with a lot (Luke 16:10-13).
With money we are in danger of becoming like dragons who greedily “guard their plunder as long as they live… and never enjoy a brass ring of it” (The Hobbit).
Paul counsels his young protégé, Timothy, “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 NIV).
Money is not something to be hoarded but rather to be cheerfully and generously used for the good of others and the glory of God, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV).
It is a gift to be enjoyed, not a god to be served.
But money is not the only thing we are encouraged to be generous with. In his first letter to the church in Thessalonica Paul wrote, “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV).
Our generosity should extend far beyond our wallets and bank accounts to our very lives.
Comparatively speaking, it is much easier to be generous with our money than it is to be generous with our lives because to be generous with our lives will cost us money, time, energy and always comes with the possibility of being rewarded with sorrow, disappointment and pain. It is a dangerous business to invest our lives in the lives of others. It is not an easy task. But consider the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
“though he was rich, yet for [our] sake he became poor, so that [we] through his poverty might become rich… Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (2 Corinthians 8:9; Hebrews 12:3 NIV)
Instead of giving us manna from heaven he became for us the Manna from heaven (Exodus 16; John 6:35-40). Jesus left the comfort of heaven to endure hardship here on earth, to live among people like us and to invest in the lives of men and women like you and I.
More than that he gave up his life to make us part of his family, brothers and sisters: children of God. And he continues to invest in us through the Holy Spirit by lavishing upon us a multitude of spiritual gifts, in our own lives and in the lives of others so we can build one another up (1 Corinthians 12:1-31).
In light of this we should listen closely to the words of Paul,
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NIV)
By God’s grace let’s prayerfully be intentional about generous living, not just with our money but with our lives as we invest in the lives of others, serving both them and God, so we can say along with Paul,
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV)