I was asked that this week in regards to giving in order to help a ministry. I think people can pretty unanimously agree that money is one of the most important things in the world. Some would even say money makes the world go round. I would have to say that both of those statements are probably true. Not true because they are right in nature, but because human nature (which brings forth greed) makes it right.
Aside from the greed factor (that’s for another entry…), money is pretty important. We need food, water, and shelter to survive on the earth – all of which cost money. Then you have things like other basic necessities, transportation, fuel, and communications that all have price tags. Life is pretty pricey.
Most of us in the U.S. being poor now (thanks for the change, Barracky!), it’s tough to imagine spending your cash on anything but what you need to get by. Before I get to this next point, don’t be misled – I’m right there with you. Cash is hard to come by, especially when doing honest work.
We’re not supposed to love our cash.
Now, I know you’ve all heard this Sunday School lesson before, so I’m not gonna beat that horse. Allow me, however, to take a bit of a different approach…
We all know that money is temporary, that we can’t take it with us when we die, and that we should use it for the glory of God. Plenty of people sacrificially give their money to missions, orphan ministry, bible smuggling, and lots of other very commendable, Godly purposes. Those people are awesome.
Other people give their money sacrificially to bless their neighbor. Overtipping on their restaurant tab, helping support a friend who is expecting a baby, buying food and a coat for the homeless during the winter. You get the picture.
Some of you have been indoctrinated with these examples, and a lot of you do a really great job following suit. I think these are all good things and good principles to follow. It’s essentially selflessness and generosity in practice with your cash. Kudos to you.
But I wonder how many of us take the same approach of sacrifice and giving when it comes to their lives? When you think about life, it has the same qualities as money (you can run out, you can’t take it with you when you die, etc.) But no one talks about sacrificially giving it away. Why?
God has never been interested in our cash. He is God, He can kind of buy anything He wants by just speaking it into existence. He isn’t interested in food, gifts, money, or altruism, yet these are the things that we give away as a sacrifice.
What if we made it a goal to, rather than be open to giving our cash away, be open to giving our lives away. Cash, time, and prayers are a part of our lives, so we wouldn’t start missing that aspect. But what about the actual idea of giving up our livelihood? Or of even dying? Are there things we can honestly say we’re willing to die for? A lot of people say they would die for Jesus, but a lot of people don’t know what that means. A lot of people say they’d die for their freedoms, but a lot of people are in no risk of losing that freedom. But what if you were called by God to leave school or quit your job and go minister to Southeastern Asian tribes who have never heard the Gospel? Or go to build wells in Africa. Or go stand before the Supreme Court building and pray? Or oppose a government that is oppressing its people? What if you were told to renounce Christ or be tortured for 6 more weeks? Or if you worked for a government who gave the death penalty for believing in Jesus? Are we really willing to give away our lives?
I believe that the truly genuine heart that gives sacrificially gives as a result of passion for Jesus. A willing and passionate dedication to a prayerful pursuit of the heart of God brings the revelation that our physical stuff just isn’t worth all that much in the grand scheme, that there is justice and righteousness worth dying for, and that we should give as a result of our willingness to live without stuff in order to see God’s kingdom come on Earth.
So, I guess the moral of the story is that we’ve all got a pretty generous heart as Christians, and we understand generosity through the grace that God has given us, but sometimes all we think about as far as sacrifice is concerned is giving away cash. If you’re openly giving your life to Christ, and as a result you give your cash, then it’s a testimony to faithfulness. But if you’re willing to give your cash for Jesus, but not your life, it doesn’t amount to much.
The question, then, should be “What are you willing to give your life for?”