From the Preacher’s Pen… A few weeks ago we looked at the gift of labor. God has carefully designed us in a unique way to work. Unlike plants or even animals, we are not made to be comfortable with simply existing. We have minds that inquire and learn. We have the ability to grow our abilities and do either good or evil with our lives. God gives us the gift of work that we might both learn and be fulfilled. And, of course, the ultimate work we can do is, just as it was with Jesus (cf. John 9:4), the work of our God.
The next gift we looked at was that of friendship. While the wrong friends can lead us astray, God nevertheless designed us as human beings to be part of a team. Whether as husband and wife or coworkers in the Lord’s service, we always work better together.
Next, we need to consider a most unusual gift, that of money. A gift or a curse, you may well ask. So let’s examine what God says about…
The Gift of Money
As we did with the gift of friendship, let’s begin with the negative side of this gift. We know that the love of money (the New Testament word is also used for covetousness) is the root of all sorts of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Of course, loving anything more than God is idolatry and Paul’s discussion of this subject is well worth keeping in mind (cf. 1 Timothy 6:3-10).
But there’s much more to the story. Remember there were women who were not just disciples but financial supporters of Jesus’ ministry (cf. Luke 8:1-3). Since they were doing this out of their own pockets, they were obviously women of considerable means. Jesus never condemned them for being wealthy and there is certainly no hint that their money was bad or evil in any way.
Rather than setting a percentage and taxation system the way the Old Law did, God tells us to give as we have been prospered or blessed by Him (1 Corinthians 16:2). We are to give willingly of what we have, we are not expected to give what we do not have (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:12). And we are to give purposefully, intentionally and not grudgingly or of necessity (2 Corinthians 9:17).
All this plainly tells us that we give of and because God has given so richly to us. God is not a stingy God (cf. Malachi 3:8-12 and Luke 6:38). Money, like all our other blessings, is a gift from God. How we use it determines whether we bless God or Satan.
Perhaps one of the most balanced and wise comments on God’s gift of money comes from Solomon: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God (Proverbs 30:8-9).
Clearly, there is a right balance of useful money and idolatrous money. The question for us becomes: How will we use this gift, this blessing?
Many times a good lesson can be taught to us by our children. Watch children that are taught to be generous. They will ask if they can help someone in need! They will happily share whatever they have. They learn that lesson even when they have little and they see what they do have as a gift for sharing.
Do we see the good that can come from being generous with the gift from God? Solomon said the generous man will be prosperous (Proverbs 11:25) and be blessed (Proverbs 22:9). And Paul challenged Timothy to teach Christians to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share (1 Timothy 6:18).
And again the question for us is: How will we use this gift, this blessing?
— Lester P. Bagley