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