Remember that day when as a college student I decided to believe that God is who he says he is? I also had to decide if I believed the Bible. I mean really believed it enough to trust its wisdom over any other source. As I engage in this invigorating conversation with wealthy Christians, inevitably the “Bible question” comes up, and it goes something like this: “I try to live my life according to God’s instructions in the Bible, but when it comes to my money, I’m a little hesitant. I mean, do I really have to sell all I have and give to the poor?”
When we began this conversation with wealthy Christians, we agreed that everything had to be grounded on the authority of God’s Word. In essence what we were trying to do was illustrate biblical principles with modernday examples. Real people who have a lot of money, who have decided to completely trust whatever God said about money, and how that’s working for them. We wanted to explore what would happen if rich Christians put their complete trust in what the Bible teaches about money. We started out with the tagline “Experience the joy,” but after some time we changed it to “Finding a joy unexpected.” Because what we observed is that when people decide to trust the Bible with their money, they aren’t really sure what will happen. Some even approach it with a little skepticism. But always, those who sign on for this adventure do not regret it. They have more fun in ways they had never imagined possible. In fact, one of the most confirming signs I have observed in all the years I’ve been working with wealthy Christians is the fruit that is produced in the lives of generous Christians.
I’ve never met an unhappy generous person, and if we truly believe the Bible, that shouldn’t surprise us. One of the most frequently quoted Bible verses about money comes straight from the mouth of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The word “blessed” sounds pretty high and holy, but the actual Greek word from which it was translated means “to make happy.” In other words, “It is more happy-making to give …” And in my experience I cannot think of a single example where this has not proven to be true.
But that’s just one verse. There are more than twenty-three hundred verses in the Bible about money. Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic. He said more about money than about heaven or hell. There’s more written in the Bible about money than written about prayer and faith combined. Clearly money is a big deal to God, so the question all of us who love him have to address is, “Do I really believe what the Bible teaches about money, and if so, what am I going to do about it?”
So what does the Bible actually say about money? Lots. But its message could be summarized with a couple of simple sentences: Be careful. Be generous. Be careful because earthly success could equal spiritual failure, a warning Jesus offers in the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:21). The best way to be careful is to hold your money loosely—be generous. And that’s where we focus most of our attention when we bring wealthy people together to have a conversation about money. We don’t ask them for money. We don’t challenge them to increase their giving by a certain amount. Instead, we talk about generosity. What does it mean? What does it look like? What does it do for others? What does it do for us? How does it shape our hearts? How does it influence our appetite for things eternal?
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