Category: Possessions (Page 1 of 3)

Generous on Every Occasion

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work… You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” ~2 Corinthians 9:8-11

CupOverflowsBlueThe foundation of our Christian giving is knowing that God is the giver of all things. It’s a very radical thing to declare that God — not me, God! — is responsible for everything I have and everything I am. It’s huge. It’s an insight that is so simple, yet profoundly life-changing. Once you grasp the truth that everything you own, everything you have decisions over, comes from God, your whole outlook and lifestyle change.

It’s not that we care less about our possessions; it’s that we care much more about God’s purposes in giving us all these possessions in the first place which, ironically, is to give them away for the benefit of others.

Generous, over-the-top giving demonstrates our continuing confidence that God is always going to give us everything we need. Giving away our money is an act of dependence on God. To withhold our money or to give it grudgingly or with hesitation betrays an insecurity that denies the very thing Scripture’s talking about in 2 Corinthians 8-9.

We’ll justify conservative giving, though. Well throw big words at stingy giving to make it sound better. “Stewardship.” We’ve got to be “good stewards” with God’s money. Usually when people say “stewardship” — and I’m talking about individual Christians and church leadership groups — they’re talking about not spending the money or saving the money or holding the money. I don’t know how that became the Church’s idea of stewardship when the Bible’s idea of stewardship is to give everything away and trust in God.

The fact that Christians ask all the time how much they should give, how much they have to give, how much they’re supposed to give, tells me we don’t get it yet. An amount is not the Bible’s point. The point is that our giving flows from a grateful attitude toward God and a faithful dependence on God. The underlying assumption in Scripture, the principle that undergirds everything, is that all of God’s people give as much money as they can to help as many people as they can to give God as much glory as they can. The only rule is to give freely and generously as an expression of thanksgiving and trust.



Having All That You Need

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” ~2 Corinthians 9:8

CupOfBlessingOverflowThe four words in the middle of that verse — “all that you need” — could make you think that God’s interested in giving you a bunch of material things. But he’s not. “Having all that you need” is about contentment. We all have every single thing we need. I dare say every single person reading this post has every single thing he or she needs to make it through today and tonight and into tomorrow. We all have everything we need. We just might not have everything we want. But what we want isn’t always what’s best for us, right? Paul’s talking about a contentment, a satisfaction with what God is choosing to give us. This is about you being good with what God is choosing to give you and what he’s deciding not to give you.

It’s also about knowing that the truly important things, the eternal things, the things that really matter, he gives us in abundance. We have more of the really important stuff than we know what to do with.

“the surpassing grace God has given you” (2 Corinthians 9:14) – surpassing grace, overflowing grace, enough grace to obliterate every single one of your sins and restore you to a righteous relationship with God;

“his incomparable great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19) – overflowing power, overwhelming power, more than enough divine Holy Spirit power inside you to annihilate sin and death and Satan and everything that might separate you from God;

“the incomparable riches of his grace” (Ephesians 2:7) – buckets of grace, grace in spades, more than plenty of grace to be saved, it says, and to join God in doing works;

“this love that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19) – incomprehensible love, love that blows your mind, divine love up to here, unconditional love coming out your ears; a surplus of love, it says, to fill you to the measure of all the fullness of God himself; this God who is able to do, it says, immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within you!

All that grace. All that power. All that love. Lavished on us. More than we need. Why? Why does God give us so much?

So you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8)

So you can be generous on every occasion (2 Corinthians 9:11)

So you can supply the needs of God’s people (2 Corinthians 9:12)

So you can share with God’s people and everyone else (2 Corinthians 9:13)

You and I have all that we need, and then some. It’s a simple concept, an easy thing to understand. But once we truly grasp it and begin to live out its implications, it’s profoundly life-changing. So, try it. Double up on your tip today at the restaurant. Buy the cold drink for the guy behind you in line at the convenience store. Let somebody else go first. Give. Give. Give. Because our God has given you more than enough.



Identifying the People of God


The rich man in Jesus’ parable never lifted one finger to help poor Lazarus. He didn’t act to relieve even a small part of Lazarus’ suffering. The rich man totally ignored him. And God’s people do not ignore the hurting. When Jesus gives us that picture in Matthew 25 of the last day, he makes it clear that we’re all going to be separated according to whether or not we helped people who were hurting.

We are saved by God in order to bless others. We are redeemed by God in order to serve others. We don’t love others so we can feel good, we love others because we have been loved. We don’t bless others so we can look good, we bless others because we have been blessed. We don’t lift up others to earn favor or points, we lift up others because we have been lifted up.

God’s desire is to do something in you and something through you. He is changing you so you can bless other people. But that is never going to happen until we see people the way our Father sees people. We must see the hungry, the lost, the poor, the sick; we have to see the lonely, the stressed, the depressed, the sad — we must see them all through the eyes of our God. We see all people for who they are: men and women created in the image of God. We see all people for who they can be: physically and spiritually whole, restored to a righteous relationship with their Creator. We see all people for what our Lord desires them to be: one with him and with all our brothers and sisters in his Kingdom.

But the rich man views Lazarus as his servant. Even after they both die and the rich man is being tormented in the flames and Lazarus is sitting in Abraham’s lap in an air-conditioned heaven with a root beer float. The rich man still sees Lazarus as an object to be used. He still thinks he’s better than Lazarus.

“Send Lazarus to bring me some water! Send Lazarus to warn my brothers!”

Helping the hurting is the evidence that your heart has been changed by grace. It’s a proof that your life has been transformed by the Spirit. It identifies you as a child of God.

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth.” ~1 John 3:17-19



House Money


Most of us, to some degree or another, live with a conviction that we control our possessions because we earned them. At the most, we’ll admit that, yeah, where we were born and when we were born and into what socio-economic circumstance we were born plays a role in the stuff we have. But even then, we attribute what we have to our own hard work. God may provide the raw materials. But it’s still up to me to make the most of it. So these are my possessions. And I do with them what I please.

Listen, when the Bible speaks about blessings or wealth, it doesn’t talk about some vague sense of having it pretty good. Scripture puts it in terms of very specific acts and very specific gifts of the one true and living God.

“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” ~1 Corinthians 4:7

It’s like the people who work for Publisher’s Clearing House. I’ve read interviews with the people who actually award those big winners checks. They get to fly around the country and knock on the doors and give away 25-million dollars or 100-million dollars to unsuspecting strangers. And they love their job. They change people’s lives. They bring untold joy and happiness with every interaction.

You know why they love their job? They’re not giving away their own money. They’re giving away the company’s money.

The money in your checking account is Kingdom money. It’s not yours. The money in your retirement fund or in your savings account, the money in your pocket right now doesn’t belong to you. It’s God’s. We’re all playing with house money.

God is the giver of everything you have. God is responsible for all of it. And that doesn’t mean we care less about our possessions. It means we care so much more about God’s purposes in giving us all these gifts, which, ironically, is to use them to bless others.



God & Money

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” ~Matthew 6:24

Senator Phil Gramm once famously said, “I’ve got more guns than I need, but not more than I want.” Most of us might be able to say the same thing about our TVs, our cars, our computers, our books, our bank accounts, or the square feet in our house. More than we need; not more than we want.

Our Lord teaches that we are not to store up treasures for ourselves on earth but, instead, to store up treasures in heaven. He says not to worry about food and drink or clothes and cars, that our faithful Father will provide everything we need. He says to focus on the Kingdom, to seek first and foremost the Kingdom, and then all the stuff we really need will be given to us.

To chase after the things of this world, to spend our time and money and resources securing material things, working at a job we hate to pursue things that won’t last, isn’t a matter of not trusting that God will give us what we need. But it may be a matter of not trusting that God will give us what we want. And what we want seems to be very, very important.

Myself included.

There’s a group of young men in Abilene who are taking the Sermon on the Mount seriously. They have decided to give up the pursuit of material things in order to live together in one of the poorest neighborhoods in town and serve the community with God’s love and grace. Our Bible classes here at Central recently watched a video interview with three young men who are living in this Allelon Community. And I was immediately struck by how my first thoughts about these guys were negative. Why was I feeling negatively about these men who are living out in such concrete ways the teachings of our Lord? They’re sharing everything — the rent, the bills, the food, the clothes, everything — so they can work less and spend more time in Gospel relationship blessing their neighbors. Yet, I found myself judging the blankets hanging over their windows in place of curtains. I caught myself judging the holes in their T-shirts, the unmowed grass in the yard, the unkempt hair, and the terribly messy living room.

Ha. It’s easy to judge others. It’s much more difficult to evaluate my own life as it stands in contrast to Jesus’ teachings.

How might these guys judge me if they were to see the inside of my house? “Why does he have four TVs?” “Why are there four cars in his driveway?” “How many of these shirts in his closet does this dude actually wear?”

The exhortations in the Sermon on the Mount are not intended to bring us down. They’re not unrealistic expectations for a disciple of Jesus. And they’re not commands as much as they are encouragements. Reminders. To paraphrase Bonhoeffer on this particular passage, we have here either a crushing burden, which holds out no hope, or else it is the quintessence of the Gospel, which brings the promise of freedom and perfect joy. Jesus does not tell us what we ought to do but cannot; he tells us what God has given us and promises to continue giving us, so we can live lavishly in him.

It’s not “Stop chasing material things! Stop worrying about your food! Stop hoarding money and buying more stuff!” It’s more like, “Look at everything you have in Christ Jesus! Why are you chasing material things? Look at all the blessings and promises that belong to you in Jesus!Why are you worrying about food? Look at the boundless love of your God! Why are you hoarding money and buying more stuff?”

Come on, I love God. I serve God.  I like to buy things, but I’m not serving money.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~Matthew 6:21

What would the Allelon boys say about you if they toured your house? I’m just asking…



Contentment in God

“I have learned to be content in whatever state I am in.” ~Philippians 4:11

Beyond merely proving that the apostle Paul was not a Texan, the familiar passage above communicates in clear ways his joy and peace in our Lord. Paul’s joy doesn’t depend on the alleviation of his physical discomfort. That’s why, even though he’s in prison, he tells his Philippian brothers and sisters he doesn’t need a thing.

Paul’s learned, he says, to be content regardless of his circumstances.

So he doesn’t consider physical troubles to be a personal disaster. By the same token, he doesn’t view physical blessings as a sign of success. Paul uncompromisingly finds his joy and peace in God’s continuing work of salvation. He is being saved. The Church is being saved. The world is being saved. And Paul’s content that his God will meet all his / their needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

May we all find that contentment in the wise provision of our loving Father. And may our lives reflect the belief we have that through our crucified and resurrected Savior we can endure all things.



« Older posts