I’ve been learning a lot this year about what it means to be “crazy generous”, a term coined by a new church I started attending. Caleb’s spiritual gift is generosity. This means that he loves to give money away to those in need. I have never seen him tempted to hold on to his money for his own selfish gain.
Me, on the other hand, I’m a hoarder. I am an ex-eBay addict, a woman blessed with the inherit genes to shop for the sake of shopping. I could waste hours shopping for stuff I don’t need simply because I desire it. Combine this weakness with the forced discipline of having a newly married income, and let’s just say that this has been a year of excellent spiritual growth.
It’s been a struggle for me, but I am so grateful that God’s teaching me lessons about generosity and leading me away from gluttony of personal items. Jesus says in Matthew 19:24 “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” He says this at least two times, which means that people back then probably didn’t grasp the full concept of this either.
I know I don’t always fully understand it, and I feel that I will always be learning something about it. Here’s what I’ve learned so far about wanting or owning too much stuff:
1) There is never a cap on how much you want. Marketing has been and always will be a ploy to get you to envy and spend money needlessly. (I should know, I’m in marketing!) On the other hand, monitoring your frugality can be just as much as issue as spending it all needlessly. Either way, money and your possessions are always on your mind.
2) “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matt 6:24 I’ve learned what this means by monitoring my intentions. Do I pick a career based on how much money I can make, or do I let God guide me in my career so that I can best glorify Him (regardless of whether it makes a lot of money)? If money is my master, am I likely to give it away to people in need or hoard it for myself? Just be sure your desire to give money away generously is not self-serving. (Matt 6:1-4)
3) Once you start viewing money as a safety net, you no longer see the need for God. Even if you don’t have wealth right now, just the idea that one day you might have wealth is enough to make you feel safe. People are always telling me that I don’t have to worry about my finances because my husband’s planning on being a doctor. At one point I started feeling secure because of the future hope that my husband would be rich. First of all, there is never a sure thing in this life. Second of all, even if my husband does become a rich doctor, I am now praying that I will hate wealth.
I feel crazy when I say that, so maybe I sound crazy. But I want to hate money. When money fills my bank account, I want to look at it with disdain rather than with glee.
I’m going to be praying to be poor.
Because it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a GIGANTIC camel to go through an itty bitty teeny weeny eye of a needle. (Be honest — how many of you just imagined a camel in a polka dot bikini? That’s the power of marketing!)
In my mind, if I hate my own money, I will have no problem giving it away. I’ll have no problem being generous. If you think about it, half of Jesus’ sermons in the Beatitudes are about providing for people’s physical needs. If God blesses me with financial stability, I want to give people my proverbial (and physical!) second coat.
This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to live off of locusts and honey for the rest of my life. I’d love to acquire certain things in life, like a house big enough for my future family, a cheery Golden Retriever named Bowser, a car that’s maybe not 10 years old and falling apart, and possibly a boat. The problem is when I start to expect these things out of my future because I plan on making a ton of money in my big-time career. The problem is when I let my stuff own me and define me. The problem is when I start to live for things rather than for the will of Jesus Christ. Stuff isn’t inherently evil, but it’s a temptation big enough to make Jesus say, “AGAIN I say to you…”
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be wary of my stuff from now on.
Money is tricky! We can’t avoid it, so we have to learn to navigate it. Anyone straight out of college with pressing bills to pay will tell you that money becomes a necessary primary occupation. It can be difficult to trust God to take care of our needs. But here’s the truth: if you’re working hard and living honestly and trying to serve God, He’s not going to just let you starve. Jesus reassures us with this thought: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matt 10:29-31)
Store up your treasures in heaven, my friends. Consider the mindset of praying to be poor.
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Luke 6:20
All scripture taken from the NASB version on Biblegateway.com