Do you find yourself continually striving to acquire power? When you give advice, do you want to know whether it is being followed or not? There is a pattern: when you offer help, you expect to be thanked; when you give money, you expect it to be spent your way; when you do something good, you want to be remembered. You are concerned that you not be forgotten and that somehow you will live on in the thoughts and deeds of others.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you”James 4:10There is blessing found in humility. When we hold on to pride, there are consequences that result.
There is not a single new parishioner from the new high-tech and high-rise estates that go to a nearby church. Not one, in at least 20,000.
The residents are yuppies, mostly young “professional” couples: upwardly mobile, double-income, childless.The idea of church attendance is not merely unpopular among them; it is inconceivable. You could tell them any monstrous thing about the Christianity and they would believe it. They also wouldn’t care.
It would not matter how we advertised: Christianity could not possibly sell. Pre-packaged haute cuisine will sell, and the most expensive gizmos. Holidays in Kenya will sell. And breaking news on Trump is lapped up eagerly. Formal religion would take prep time that they just don’t have.
Yet they do have a religion that is in a sense, Christian. The coffee shops provide a kind of ritual.The clichés they utter are from Christianity of some sort. Some of them are ready for depression, but not for religion in any of its traditional forms.
Money has always had meaning for people beyond its purchasing power. for many, money means success, power, and even moral worth. The giving of money has always established the giver as a valued member of a community.
Jesus saw this as a private act of love to be seen by God, not as public act for show and honor. “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:3, 4
Usually one is more important than the other. Wealth is the chief rival of our day to God. It is said that money is a good servant but a bad master. Personally we must master money or money masters you. Are we being choked by the wealth and riches of the world so that our faith cannot grow to maturity and bring a bountiful harvest?
Avariceis what the inner condition of the heart gives rise to greed, which is typically categorized as excessive acquisition and excessive retaining of money and possessions: an overflowing shopping cart or anything that is a “great deal”.” What is Avarice? It is the holding on to one’s possessions with an unyielding grip.
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist of what is the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
Like the other vices rooted in pride, greed is a do-it-yourself method of finding happiness, instead of being content to what God has given us and depending on His provision—the opposite to generosity. This virtue is about freedom – freedom from being too attached to money and whatever money can buy as opposed to a greedy person’s tight-fisted grip on money as his or hers. The generous is ready to give with pleasure when and where they feel they should. Here is the perfect test: is giving away things easy and enjoyable?
Our giving always needs to leave adequate provision for ourselves and those under our care. This is a matter of practical wisdom. The problem comes when one must determine what is excess.
Yes, it is harder to give away something that you have sweated over to acquire. It is always much easier to be generous with other people’s money. Finally it comes down to a simple question: do we possess our possessions or are we possessed by them? “By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.” Ezekiel 28:5
It is possible to have a second related vice: first we over-acquire, and then we over-trash. This is a lifestyle of excessive and careless spending. We are also likely to be in dire need for more money, which becomes a vicious circle. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10
Our holiness is compatible with every state in life. Even the rich are called to live holy lives by using their wealth in productive ways that foster their own growth and the growth of others.“Idolatry? Who can tell me what that word means?” A nine-year-old’s hand shot into the air. “It’s like what some people do with money—they make it more important than God.” The wisdom of these simple words reverberated through the Sunday school classroom.Christians are called to reject the idolization of wealth in the modern consumerist society. Instead, they are invited to make productive use of material wealth for the ministries of God. So long as individuals maintain a greater attachment to worldly possessions than to God, they will find it harder to enter the kingdom of heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of the needle.An authentic life starts with a prayer: “I offer you this half hour of my swim for … who is struggling… or any other cause.” So that you “pray continuously” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 So while you are cleaning windows, you simply offer this hour of cleaning for thanksgiving for your family. You offer the actions of your life to God as a prayer. This is the secret on how the busy modern person can find intimacy with God. The interior effect of the work we do becomes more important than the exterior fruits of our work.