"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
Did you know that cardiovascular disease claims more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined?
According to 2016 figures from the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for more than 17.3 million per year--a number that's expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030. What's more, about 2,200 Americans die from it each day. That's one every 40 seconds.
It's apparent that the world faces a cardiac crisis. But there's another serious heart problem that doesn't involve cigarettes, cholesterol management or low-fat diets. Instead, far too many Christ-followers lack a heart that's willing to give generously according to the resources God has richly given them. And when they do manage to open their pocketbooks, it's often done grudgingly.
That's not the example God sends us through his message in the Bible. If there's a two-word lesson that we can learn from scriptural principles about money and possessions, it's that we should be generous. After all, God is the ultimate giver. Let's consider for a moment the many gifts that we've received. They vary somewhat, but tend to include our health, job, home, family, friends and church. And of course there's God's ultimate gift: the forgiveness of our sins and an eternal relationship with him through our faith in Jesus.
God also wants everyone to be a cheerful giver--particularly one who refuses to hoard their blessings. But to do that, we must trust him rather than our riches. After all, bank accounts and retirement funds can disappear overnight through unexpected circumstances and economic turmoil. Just look at some recent headlines about the stock market to confirm that.
What's the benefit of being generous with our money, time and possessions? As the Apostle Paul tells us through the Book of 1 Timothy, giving back richly toward God and his purposes renders much more than a warm feeling of satisfaction. Think of it as a guaranteed high-yield investment with dividends that we'll enjoy forever in the world to come. In fact, God challenges us on our preconceived notions about money. Through his unique design, giving richly results in getting more:
"By doing that, they will be saving a treasure for themselves as a strong foundation for the future," Paul explains. "Then they will be able to have the life that is true life."
It's every Christ-follower's mission to serve as God's hands and feet on Earth by feeding the hungry, healing the sick and housing the homeless. So by making generous giving a spiritual habit and being rich toward God, we'll become more like Jesus to help change our community, the world--and ourselves--for the better.
That's the heart of the matter.