Opening the Bible, we need read no further than the first chapter of Genesis to discover that God is a giver. It is perhaps the clearest picture painted of his nature and character throughout Scripture, later personified in Christ and magnified in the giving of himself on the cross.

Created in his image to bear his image, we too are called upon to be givers — selfless and generous, as is he. And for good reason. Generosity is what keeps the things we own from owning us.

Giving is a safeguard against materialism and greed, two traps easy to get caught in. How do we avoid these traps? Jesus offers this advice:

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
— Matthew 6:19-21 NLT

Commenting on this passage, Randy Alcorn writes[1]:

“But when Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, it’s not just because wealth might be lost; it’s because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live, or we leave it when we die. No exceptions.”

So each of us should ask, “As God prospers me more, do I look for ways to give more or to spend more? Is my aim to collect more stuff here or to invest in that which lasts for eternity?”

Not one to mince words, John Wesley wrote[2]:

“Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind? How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?”

I know those words burn, I certainly felt the sting when I first read them. But when prayerfully considered, I knew Wesley was right. Today, my favorite moment entering the church is dropping my check in the basket as I walk through the door. In so doing, I make a difference, and it feels good.

[1] Alcorn, The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving
[2] Wesley, Sermon 126, On the Danger of Increasing Riches