Chapter 12:22-34 (ESV) - And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Question to consider: How do you experience joy in giving?
After telling the crowds that they should be rich toward God and not lay up treasure for themselves, Jesus comforted His disciples by telling them not to be anxious about their life. There are some who preach this as an imperative, “Don’t be anxious!” In their very sermons, they create anxiety because people start worrying about their worrying.
I don’t think Jesus intended to have us turn His statement into law. I think He meant this as an assurance that God will take care of us so we do not need to stockpile wealth. The Christian life is one of freedom. We are not enslaved to our possessions so we should freely give. We are also not bound to the law of the tithe so we should give according to what is joyful for us to give. Paul sums up Christian giving perfectly in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
So we live somewhere between reluctance and compulsion in our giving. If you are married, giving should be done in a way that creates joy for both husband and wife. The last paragraph of today’s passage is very comforting. We do not have to fear, for God takes pleasure in caring for us.
I do think it is a good idea to evaluate our generosity. If the thought of giving richly toward God does not bring us joy, we should continue to pray for God to give us a heart for the lost or a desire to invest in things that do not perish. Jesus’ last statement reinforces this idea. Each of us should be able to look at our finances and ask ourselves how our treasure reflects our heart toward God.
Dear heavenly father, we thank You for being generous with us and meeting our daily needs. Give us a desire to be generous toward others in the name of Jesus. Help us to be a part of gospel-centered churches and ministries in which we can give with joy. Amen.