When I first started teaching at the collegiate level one of the things that dismayed me was the number of students that choose business as their major because they “wanted to make money.” Although I think it’s perfectly fine to make a living, and even to excel at earning an income, there are numerous lives that can bear witness to the fact that if this is your primary objective, your life will be relatively empty. Combined this with the fact that many of the students professed to be Christians, I couldn’t understand why the pursuit of riches would be at the forefront of their minds.
However, this is not a thought that is unique to these students. Many young people are consumed with the process of earning enough to be “comfortable” in life. Older people are often pursuing the same goal, albeit with a little more cynicism and wariness than their younger counterparts. There is a reason that get-rich scams are so often successful – despite the Bible’s clear warning to the contrary – people love money and are quick to seek after it.
While the Bible teaches us that the an affection for cash will lead to poor choices (I Timothy 6:10), it does command us to be rich – just not in money. Instead we are to wealthy in generosity (I Timothy 6:18). Normally we equate the idea of richness with an individual whose accounts are full, whose life is marked by abundance, and whose opportunities are plentiful. We might think of someone who is rich in generosity in the same way.
- Full Accounts – Being rich in generosity means that you give in a variety of ways. All of your “giving accounts” – time, skills, money, and energy – are regularly used to bless others. When there is a need, you have significant balances to pull from – and you are willing to use whatever is at your disposal to disperse to someone else the kindness that God has shown you. Instead of putting deposits in the bank, you are making deposits in people’s lives, often at your own expense.
- Marked by Abundance – Someone who is rich in generosity will give frequently and sacrificially. When it costs you, you give. When it means that you have to forego your own desires, you give. When you know that you might not get commended or appreciated, still you give. And even when you don’t have a lot, from whatever you do have, you give.
- Plentiful Opportunities – Just like people who are monetarily wealthy seem to have lots of opportunities, people who are rich in generosity seem to constantly have opportunities to give. However, opportunities to spend money come to those who are conventionally wealthy; those who are rich in generosity seek out opportunities to give. You do not wait for the need to be on you doorstep; you are actively looking for how you may use what God has given you to bless someone else
From a human perspective the desire to be rich can be readily understood. Life seems easier for those who have a lot of cash. Yet the Christian is not called to an easy life, but instead to a life that pleases God. And when we cheerfully give, this gives God pleasure.