Work Hard to Give
Most people work hard to have. The Bible says to work hard to give.
Paul spent three years working to plant a church movement in Ephesus. As he says goodbye, Paul gives an account of how he handled his financial needs. He did not ask for money. He did what he did by hard work (Acts 20:33-34).
As he closes his tearful goodbye, he leaves them with a final word of instruction.
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.Acts 20:35
In short, Paul tells them to work hard to give.
A statement like that is so counterintuitive to our culture's financial strategy. As materialists, capitalists, and individualists, we work hard to have. We give it if we've got it.
Why would a person work hard just to give it away? What's a man worth without his wealth?
The Man Who Worked Hard to Have
Jesus told an interesting story about the failed financial strategy of working hard to have in Luke 12:13-21. In short, a very successful man reaped a great harvest. He did not have enough barns to store his stuff so he tore down what he had and built bigger ones. He was happy now that he had enough to "eat, drink, and be merry" for many years.
Tragically he died that very night. Jesus summarizes the waste of his wealth with two sentences.
But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."Luke 12:20-21
"Not rich toward God." If we were going to live eternally with life as it is, then working hard to have would be the best strategy. But we die. Then, eternity begins. And what we have in the next life is not determined by what we have in this life. What we have in the next life is determined by what we did with what we had in this life. That being the case, it is a much better strategy to work hard to give than work hard to have.
Working hard to give keeps helps us keep life in the proper perspective. It keeps us safe from the idolatry of money. It reminds us that all we have is not all there is. Working hard to give makes us rich toward God.
The greatest blessing is not in having, but in giving. The rich man had all he wanted but nothing he needed. As far as the blessing of giving goes, he missed it. Eternally.
Work hard to give. It's a better way to live.
Read Luke 12:13-21.
- What is the command to be obeyed?
- What are the principles to be applied?
- How does this passage shape your financial strategy/spending habits?
Go through your stuff. There is probably quite a bit of stuff in a rented storage unit, closet, or basement that you do not use. Get rid of it, but use the following constraints:
- Before you trash it, make sure that it would not be useable to anyone else.
- If you sell it, leverage the proceeds of the sell to benefit someone else rather than just buying more stuff.
- Before you dump it at a local thrift store, survey the needs of people in your community and see if they could use it.
- Is there any of it that can be restored or repaired rather than buying a newer version?