If you give because it pays, then it won’t pay

I’m not sure when money was invented, but it has been around for a long time.

FAITH & REFLECTION — I’m not sure when money was invented, but it has been around for a long time. We read about Abraham using currency about 4,000 years ago, but there have been coins discovered that were used by the Lydians about 5,000 years ago.

Money is an emotional business. We work for a designated period of time, a week or two weeks or a month, and then receive a piece of paper at the end of that time. Then, it seems as if there are many hands and demands, that would like to get a portion of that piece of paper. We have traded a segment of our lives for that paycheck, so it becomes an emotional matter…and a personal one!

It should not surprise us then, that the Bible has more to say about the acquisition of money and wealth, and the distribution of the same, than it does about heaven and hell collectively. Jesus, realizing that money is a reality that affects us from the cradle to the grave, included several segments in His teaching on the matter of money, riches and their proper use.

Jesus taught that we are not owners, but stewards or trustees of what God has provided. In Matthew 25:18, the slothful servant is condemned for being a poor steward of “his master’s money”.

Jesus said that we should “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38). We live in an affluent country. The proper response to this is not to be crippled by guilt, but to engage in robust generosity.

Giving is a matter of the heart. In Mark 12:41,42, Jesus highlighted a poor widow who had given a small gift. Others around her had given much more than what she had, but they gave a little from their lot, while she gave all that she had. Jesus honored her selfless sacrificial gift above theirs.

Our motive for giving needs to be genuine. Jesus said in Matthew 6:3 that our left hand does not need to know what our right hand is doing; and it should never be put to use by patting ourselves on the back. R.G. Letourneau, who was known for his generosity and philanthropy said, “If you give because it pays, then it won’t pay! That is trading, not giving and God does not do business on that basis. No spiritual dividend accrues from such giving.”

We have been told by financial gurus and advisors that our investments should have long-range, futuristic projections and expectations. Jesus taught the same. In Luke 16:9 He told His disciples that if they affectionately invest in people, they will receive an investiture and “an eternal home.”

“It is the LORD’s blessing that makes you wealthy…” (Proverbs 10:22).