James’ advice isn’t just for people who possess great riches; it’s just as applicable to the pauper in Christ as to the prince.
There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, “Getting money is like digging with a needle; spending it is like water soaking into sand.” We all nod in agreement. Who hasn’t known the struggle of financial frustrations? And even those who have plenty become disillusioned because money does not satisfy. As Seneca the Roman once stated, “Money has never yet made anyone rich.” But on we go, pushing and striving, planning and struggling to earn more so we can have more, then invest more and enjoy more. Fat chance! The more time we spend earning more money to buy more stuff, the less time we have to enjoy our stuff.
Our hearts need to line up on this: everything, including all we are and have, is God’s. The question we ask is not, “How much of my money should I give?” but, “How much of God’s money should I keep?”
I’m not going to talk about what you should do when the plate is passed. Rather, I want to talk about what you might do before and after that time.
While money and wealth are not evil, the love of money leads to emptiness and disaster because you’ll always strive for more.
No really, what would you do for 10 million dollars? Although it’s easier for us to trust in money than in God much of the time it can bring no lasting satisfaction, only a desire for more.
“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly, not under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:7). “Cheerful” in Greek actually translated “hilarious.” God loves a hilarious giver—you give because you want to laugh out loud, because your heart is light.
Everything we have is a gift from God and once you learn to appreciate what you’ve been given, giving back is a natural response. Generosity increases contentment and instead of striving for more, you enjoy what you have.
The world’s idea of success is fortune, fame, and power. But the forgotten side of success is lasting satisfaction, contentment, and peace found through helping others. People remain the essential ingredient in life.
There are some trials in life you just can’t find reasons for. They hit you hard and you’re left wondering. But it’s often during these times of testing that God deposits some of His best lessons into your life.