A week ago, a friend of mine who lives and works in north-central Regina came to our church to talk about the needs that he sees every day. It was interesting and sparked a lot of discussion about poverty and what we could do to help change things.
Two days later, my mailbox was flooded with “Black Friday” ads and sales on hundreds of things that I don’t really need. Then there was “Cyber Monday” (the online equivalent of “Black Friday”) and even more deals to be found.
So what do you do? I mean, on one hand, there are people all over the place who are barely scraping by, and on the other hand I am looking at a new welder and thinking “I really need that.”
How much should I give away and how much should I keep? Where does my responsibility to look after myself cross the line and become “greed?” Questions like that keep coming, and there are no easy answers, at least none that are helpful.
In 1 Timothy 6:3-19, we find some guidelines about how to handle money. In summary form, here is what Timothy is told to teach:
*Do not obsess over money or pay too much attention to it. Remember, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (verse 10)
*If you have lots, do not be arrogant and think that you are better than others. Money is not God’s scorecard.
*Do not let money make you feel secure. It is totally unstable. Your only security is in God.
*Do good deeds and be “rich in good works.”
*Be generous and ready to share.
*Be responsible here, but think more about eternity. Live in such a way as to store up “treasures in heaven.”
What does all that mean for you? I don’t know! Obviously, though, the goal is to find a middle ground between being completely irresponsible and completely greedy. However, since I think our default is to look after ourselves first, let me end with a story.
A friend of mine gave a large sum of money to a lady who needed it. He had bills to pay, but she needed it more. That was 25 years ago. He told me the other day “I have never once regretted giving her that money.”
Generosity never goes unrewarded. “Your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6).
I don’t have any easy answers, but I think the discussion is worth having anyway, because, in the end, we will not be asked, “What did you have?” Instead, we will be asked, “What did you do with it?”