At our church we’ve been going through a series called “A Cure For The Common Life”, that looks at ways to live a more purpose filled and meaningful life.
We’ve talked about a lot of different topics, including stewardship and sharing God’s word, but this week we discussed a subject I thought would be good to share here on the site.
We examined a lie that many of us have been told by our culture, and many of us believe – even if it is subconsciously.
The lie? If we can get more or better stuff – we’ll be able to live a fuller life.
More Stuff Does Not Equal More Life
We live in a society where we’re constantly bombarded with messages about how more and better possessions will make us happy, fulfilled or at least content.
The problem is that stuff has no hope of ever fulfilling those needs, and in fact things often leave us feeling empty. Jesus warns us against greed, and of pursuing riches and possessions as our end goal.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:13-15
There are men who gain from their wealth only the fear of losing it. – Antoine Riverolli
Jesus recognized that greed has a deceptive way of telling us that if we just get enough money, or if we just get a bigger house, or if we just have a nice car – that we’ll be happy, and that we’ll be able to live a fuller life. The problem is that it’s a lie, and we can end up pursuing empty things for an empty promise.
Be On Guard Against Greed
If having more stuff were to lead to living a fuller life, in some ways it would make sense to pursue excess. I mean who doesn’t want to live a fuller life? The problem is this: More stuff does not equal more life. While having things can lead to a feeling of contentment, it’s always fleeting and quickly dissipates.
America has 3.1% of the world’s children but buys 40% of the world’s toys.
We stockpile money and possessions hoping it can fill the holes in our lives, but it can’t. It’s an empty shell, a husk. It may appear to give happiness, but once we examine it more closely it’s just a poor imitation of the true happiness we can find in seeking God’s kingdom.
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ Luke 12:16-20 NIV
Having excess isn’t a guarantee of anything in this life. You could die tonight, and then all your things that you’re worked so hard to gain are for nothing. Greed, and the pursuit of meaningless things could in fact be your downfall.
What drives greed? The lie that stuff equals more life. It will never be enough to make you feel good. Repent of that lie and grab onto the truth. – Pastor Spencer Bernard
Eternally Significant Purpose Of Money That Many People Miss
There is an eternally significant purpose of money that many people miss, to be a cheerful giver. You can show God’s love to others through giving, and be fulfilled in the process.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9:6-7
When you are giving of yourself it can bring untold blessings into your life, and into the lives of others.
At our church service a lady named Emily shared her story. She told how being giving of her income and time has brought untold blessings into her life. When she graduated college she was dealing with school debt and other financial strains, but continued to give money to the church. She took what little extra she had and gave it anonymously to help a friend stay in her home when she lost her job. She also decided to take a pay cut so that she would have more time to give to the church to volunteer. When she did that she ended up getting a raise and a promotion that still gave her the free time to volunteer, but still brought in the same amount of money. Through her giving and volunteering she was able to bless many people’s lives, while her life was richly blessed as well. She truly is building up her treasures in heaven, as Jesus preached:
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:33-34
Being giving sometimes can feel foreign to us, we’re so programmed to think about preserving and growing wealth for our own purposes – and not to help others.
While our heart may not be in it at first, if you can just start small and start giving or your excess, your heart will quickly follow.
God Cares For You – No Need To Worry
God cares even for his lesser creation, the birds of the air, or the flowers of the field. If he cares for them so much, think just how much more he cares for you?
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Luke 12:24
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! Luke 12:27-28
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:29-31
God cares for us, and he will provide for us when we seek his will for our lives. So why worry about trying to build a stockpile of money and things? We don’t need it! Instead put an emphasis on giving and being generous!
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life ? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:25-26
More Of God Leads To A Fuller Life
When it comes down to it the idea that so many of us have been told and have believed – that money and possessions will fulfill us – is a lie.
- More stuff does not equal more life.
- God’s care of even the smallest of creation should show you just how much he cares for you. Why worry?
- Seek God’s Kingdom and be a cheerful giver, and it will bring blessing and a fuller life.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Have you found that being giving has lead to great blessing in your life? Tell us about it in the comments?
Good stuff Peter. When I was first getting out of debt I made sure that I continued to tithe. What happened after that decision was amazing. Like the lady in your church, I soon got a higher-paying job offer and started to see the Lord blessing my life. Now, I’m not a “health/wealth believer” – but there is something to the idea of being obedient and then living by faith (trusting God will take care of you). I’ve seen this played out in others lives as well.
Peter Anderson says
I agree with you Aaron – I’m not big on the prosperity gospel either, but I’ve been through similar things where we’ve decided to increase our giving to our church, only to see a commensurate rise in income. For example, when I started this site I was giving to our church and we decided to give more to a new capital campaign to help buy a new church building. When we made that commitment my blog income rose by almost exactly the same amount. Living in obedience and faith can mean we’ll see some amazing things. With all that being said, I don’t always think the blessings we receive in return are going to be monetary, although they certainly can be (and have been) in some cases.
Hey Peter, I really enjoyed your article. I am constantly working on being a cheerful giver as opposed to a grumpy one. Another thing I have been thinking about lately is where we draw the line between giving, and enjoying some of what God has given us, by purchasing something for ourselves. There must be a balance there. Thanks again for the post!
Vincent Duncombe says
This is a great post. I think that at times the influence of society is so great that we do not normally realize how much we have. Every time I am tempted to complain about some convenience that I do not have I start thinking about those that have so much less than I do. When you start counting your blessings and what you have you begin to notice how good God has been.
I like the last part as well. More of God leads to a fuller life. Nice.