When Your Focus Is On Getting And Not Giving
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Probably no other generation in history has been more committed to living for the moment than is our present one, or put in somewhat less refined terms, no generation has been more committed to squeezing every ounce of pleasure and fulfillment out of living than the present one. Now all of this is not bad, but the constant emphasis on self produces a distorted picture of the individual’s true worth. The end result is a selfishness that produces a marked disregard for others, and totally distorts a person’s actual importance. Nothing is much smaller than an individual’s world who shuts others from the heart as well as the hand and purse.
We’re somewhat like the little child of about two years of age who sat down to play with the set of blocks his dad, a successful builder, had given to his little boy. Immediately, the little child started stacking them up, building a house of his own. The dad, sitting down to play with the lad, said, “Give me a few, son, and I’ll build a house, too!” “No,” responded the little boy, “these are mine!”
To whom, really, do the building blocks–real estate, stocks or bonds, or even your bank account– belong? To you? Or to your Heavenly Father who put them in your hands?
Few believers today really take seriously the teaching of God’s Word, the Bible, when it comes to our possessions and who really owns them. Thinking that money or possessions belong to us alone, we often feel that we have done a wonderful thing to help someone in need, or even to send some God’s way.
The Bible teaches that what I have is not mine to spend selfishly as I please, but it is a stewardship given to me by my Heavenly Father to be used first to provide for the material needs of my life and my family, but then to be used in helping those who are in need. A new idea? No, an old one, but one which isn’t widely marketed today. For example: Paul wrote Titus and said, “Our people [meaning the household of faith] must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives” (Titus 3:14).
When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he instructed those who had been careless about taking what did not really belong to them, to stop the practice immediately and go to work, in his words, “…doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). He didn’t suggest that the motive was having a larger home, or a better vehicle for transportation. He centered on the generosity which would meet the need of a hurting neighbor or friend.
Paul never avoided the subject of money, fearful that he would offend those who read or heard his letters. By bringing them into confrontation with the will of God for their treasury, he felt that he was doing them a great favor. In his second letter to the Corinthians (often referred to as “the heart of Paul”), he said that God would cause their resources to enlarge “…so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
Frankly, we’ve gotten it all wrong. Focusing on “getting,” we’ve never learned the joy of “giving.” And until we discover the satisfaction of an open hand, we’ll never, ever, have enough to satisfy.
Do you see yourself in the story of the little child, hoarding his building blocks, fearful of putting them back into the hands of the loving father who gave them to him? If so, take stock and realize that what you think is yours is really only a loan from God. Think about it.