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We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
You go Winston! The older I get the more pressed I feel to “make a life.” More than anything else, this has meant trying to figure out how I can be more generous.
Now I’m not saying this is easy. I’m not saying I don’t spend any time counting my nickels. I’m not saying there aren’t times when generosity is somewhere well below the top priority in my thinking. I’m not even saying that I don’t daydream about a new patio or an elaborate vacation anymore. But I am saying that I think more often and more deeply about how I can follow God in His expansive and aggressive generosity.
We just finished a series of lessons on giving at Gateway. We called this series “ALL IN with my finances.” In this conversation, the idea of being all in became important in two ways. First of all, we realized we cannot be all in with God without being all in with our finances. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). In other words, Jesus is saying, “Hey, the next time someone asks you to make a list of the things that are most important to you, if you want an honest list you should consult your checkbook. There you will find your priorities laid out very clearly.”
If being all in with God is a desire for us, and it is for many of us, then we have to be all in with our finances!
I didn’t have time on the Sunday when we talked about Matthew 6 to talk about verse 24, but Jesus makes a fascinating application there. He starts by quoting a proverb: “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.” Straightforward enough. What fascinates me is the application. He concludes, “You cannot serve both God and money.” So what he does here is to say “Money can be a master! In fact, you can place money on par with where God should be in your life. Literally! And when you do that you cannot be all in with God. You cannot be rightly connected to Him. Money, if we allow it to master us, can become a spiritual inhibitor.” Wow!
The second reason the idea of being all in became important in our conversation was that being all in financially means being generous. Many of us have spent quite a bit of time considering our finances. We’ve read books or been to seminars. Some of us spend time occasionally evaluating our investments. We balance our checkbooks. We may even track our spending. All of that is critically important, but according to the Bible none of that is really the key to being all in with our finances. I repeat: being all in means being generous.
Paul put it like this, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Did you catch the “so that” in Paul’s teaching? If we want to grab hold of the life that is really life, then we’ll be generous and willing to share. So, even though we make a living by what we get, we actually make a life by what we give! You go Winston Churchill.