(Series: "Christian Greed")

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Greed: Deception 1: Get Rich To Bless Others

By Bernie Dehler

The Bible tells us not to be deceived by wealth. In the parable of the sower that our Lord taught (Matt. 13:1-22, click here for the story), one of the seed grew up amongst the thorns and weeds. The thorns choked out the good crop. The thorns represented the worries of this world, and the deceitfulness of wealth. Let's not let the "deceitfulness of wealth" choke us out of our Christian faith.

There are a number of faulty thoughts that lead one into the "deceitfulness of wealth." The first I would like to address is this. Have you thought this, or heard another Christian say this?:

"I want to make a lot of money so I can give away a lot of money to needy ministries."

The idea is that we can be a great influence for good if we could give more money for great programs. Using human wisdom, this is very easy to see.

Now let's look at it from the spiritual side. Our Lord Jesus said that a poor widow, who put in a fraction of a penny for a collection, gave more than the wealthy people (click here for the story, Mk 12:41-44).

Do you see how God could care less about the money that you give, in actual dollars, compared to how much it means to you? If a widow gave out of her poverty, and you want to be rich to give away a lot of money, you would have to give away all your wealth in order to give away as much as she did!

Another part of the problem is seeing by the human side about what you can accomplish with your money. God seems to be more concerned about us using what resources we have (time, treasure, talents) than what impact we make (parable of the talents, click here to see Matt. 25:14-30). In other words, there's nothing better about a millionaire giving away millions of dollars as there is for a poor person to give a few dollars, although the world will recognize and reward the rich. In this case, our motives really need to be evaluated.

In summary, rather than trying to make a lot of money to bless others some day in the future, live everyday of your life now as a blessing to others, using the resources that God has given you. Don't compare yourself to others; God doesn't. He'll judge us individually (Luke 12:5).


Blogger Ray Dehler said...

Well said.

I've heard it said, "If you can't give sufficiently when you don't have a lot, what makes you think you'll be able to give if you're blessed with more?"

But I think the topic of tithing is something very private to us. It's somewhat taboo, and I personally wouldn't feel comfortable confronting a friend about tithing, so what can we really do about it if it's a problem?

8:39 PM  
Blogger said...

When Christians mention "tithing" they are implying that we should give 10% of our income to the Church (presumably based on the Old Testament). I have done some shows on tithing, and the idea is that we have a higher rule now. It's called "stewardship:" ALL that we have belongs to God. What we give to Church, missions, "the least of these," etc. is between just us and God. For some, it may be well under 10%. For the very rich, it could be nearly 100%. Don't let a 10% number tie you down. The main point is to be generous and loving towards others, which includes our finances. This isn't something that just comes naturally, so it's something we need to develop.

As for your friends, the best way is usually leading by example. I'll be writing an article on this soon, maybe next...

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in strange times my man, and they just seem to be getting more and more strange. So be prepared to type my brother. And "be not discouraged", for we were told of these days. I just wished more people in the "body" would stop looking away or taking scripture out of context to explain it away... like I was saying- these are strange days.
Your in my prayers. And please pray for my poor sentence structure ;)

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Redeemed Jew said...

That is a false dichotomy. To say that if one is striving to make more out of what he has, then he is not giving sufficiently is not a necessary relationship. While it is true that Jesus was pointing out a trend that the wealthy may give more money, but less percent of what they have, it is not true for all people.

Consider the Parable of the Talents (money). The man who did not make more for the master was punished. G-d expects us to be productive with the recources that He has blessed us with. Paul writes that the LOVE of money is the roots of all kinds of evil, not money itself.

In terms of thithing. The OT principle is to give 10% of your firstfruit and 10% of your harvest. Money was never a factor in the OT tithe and all the tithe went towards the maintenance of the Temple and to provide for the Levites. We talk about tithing as if that money directly goes to the poor. It doesn't and shouldn't. We tithe to the priests. Then we are to give to the poor on top of that, "what [we] have decided in [our] hearts to give" (2Cor 9:7). Paul is talking about giving, not tithing.

6:34 AM  

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