Saturday, January 15, 2011

Heart of the Matter

"Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost. Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life. Instruct them to do as many good deeds as they can and to help everyone. Remind the rich to be generous and share what they have. This will lay a solid foundation for the future, so that they will know what true life is like."

-- 1 Timothy 6:17-19

The statistics are literally heart-stopping. 

According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 81 million American adults (more than one in three) have one or more types of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The organization’s 2010 mortality data also reveal that 2,300 Americans die of CVD each day, which averages to one death every 38 seconds. What’s more, CVD claims more lives each year than cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidents combined.

It’s obvious that our nation faces a cardiac crisis. But there’s another serious heart problem that doesn’t involve cigarettes, cholesterol management or low fat diets:

Far too many Christ-followers lack a heart that’s willing to give according to the resources God has richly given them. And when they do open their pocketbooks, it’s often done grudgingly.

Of course, that’s not the example God gives us through His Word, the Bible. If there’s a short lesson we can learn from God’s principles about money and possessions, it’s Be Generous.

We worship a God of generosity. And He wants us to follow His example and spread His Kingdom throughout the world. One way to do that is to follow the Biblical principle of the tithe, which means returning to Him the first 10 percent of our income through the local church. Obviously, the God who created the universe with a Word hardly needs our money. But following this savvy practice accomplishes much. In addition to enabling the church to better spread the Good News about Jesus and help Christ-followers grow spiritually and benefit our community, generous, purposeful giving demonstrates how much we differ from society.

The world teaches that cash is king and that he who has the most toys wins. Money and possessions are its god. However, Christ-followers are to give away that which will eventually rust and fade away for something much more permanent and valuable. Our Lord also knows our inner nature; if we didn’t give to others, our selfish natures would inevitably take over.

There are many reasons why Christ-followers fail to give to their potential. For some, it’s a lack of sound Biblical teaching on the matter. For others, it might be a lack of financial planning or even debt issues. And unfortunately, basic selfishness often figures into the equation.

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?” asks the Apostle Paul through the Book of Romans. And that’s a great question when it comes to money. After all, what if God had commanded us to give 80 percent of our income and live on the remaining 20? But He didn’t. Instead, we should ask ourselves if we believe that our Creator – the one who raised His own Son from the dead – can let us do more with 90 cents than we ever could on our own with the whole dollar.

The Bible doesn’t advocate gambling. But when it comes to money and possessions, putting your bottom dollar on God’s abilities is the safest bet of all. 

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