The Responsibility of Wealth
By Craig Groeschel
May 2, 2011
I am going to read your mind. Think: How much money would you need to feel you were “rich”? Envision a specific dollar amount. Whether your number is an annual income range or a fixed dollar figure, the number you came up with is … more than what you currently make or have. How did I know? Because you’re normal.
Gallup asked Americans what annual income they’d need to consider themselves rich. People who made $30,000 a year or less answered (on average) $74,000 a year. People who made around $50,000 a year said they’d need $100,000 a year to be rich. Virtually no one believed their existing annual income classified them as rich. It’s not surprising, really. Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income” (NIV).
When normal people picture someone rich, they imagine a hedge fund tycoon, a successful entrepreneur or that average-looking person in high school they never dated who grew up, turned gorgeous and wrote a best-selling novel. It’s always someone else who’s rich, not you. Rich people rarely think they’re rich—because someone else, somewhere, has more.
Most of us place ourselves financially somewhere between a millionaire and a homeless person. But there’s a problem with this completely normal line of thinking. Normal people, even when we sincerely seek to follow God, often skim past the parts of the Bible directed at rich people, thinking, “Oh, that’s for somebody else.”
If you haven’t missed a meal in the last three weeks—because you couldn’t afford it, not because you were dieting—you’re rich. If your kids attend a school of your choosing—either because you pay for it or because you’ve chosen to live in a specific geographic area—you’re rich. Do you have a car? Only 3 to 5 percent of people in the world do, you know. Rich people. If you have a little house for your car (often called a “garage”), you’re rich. If you pay other people to prepare and serve you food—like, say, in a restaurant—you’re rich. While you may not feel rich, the fact is, you are, because you have rich-people opportunities.
Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” God has blessed you with enough—actually, with more than enough—because He is entrusting you with a great responsibility. But that responsibility comes with a wonderful promise: Proverbs 22:9 says, “The generous will themselves be blessed” (NKJV).
I know business leaders who have an eye for deals. I know good designers who have an eye for color. But cultivating a generous eye requires no innate gifts—only practice. What does the world start to look like when we begin to perceive it through generous eyes? When we focus on giving what we can, where we can, we begin seeing others the way God sees them: as people in need.If we want blessings that last, we need to look beyond materialism. First John 2:15 and 17 tell us: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. … The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” What things do you desire? Financial experts say you can see where your passions are just by looking at your checking account history. Where you’re spending shows what things you truly care about.
So, we know what we should do. But how do we do it? Jesus answers in Luke 12:22-34, and in verse 34 specifically: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” But this principle can work in reverse, too. Where do you want your heart to go? Then start putting the things you value there—and your heart will follow.
As I hinted at earlier, the only way to cultivate generous eyes is to practice—to look for opportunities and then give in to them. I like to think of these as three levels of giving:
1. Spontaneous. When you see a need you can meet, do it.
2. Strategic. Plan your giving. Calculate ways your generosity can achieve maximum impact.
3. Sacrificial. Live like you’re managing not your own resources, but God’s. Give both spontaneously and strategically, but use only the minimum that you need and give the rest.
Practicing all three will not only draw you closer to God, but it will help you begin to see life from His eternal perspective. When people say, “I don’t have enough to give,” what they’re truly saying is they don’t feel they have enough extra to give without adjusting their lifestyle. It takes deliberate intention and time to develop generous eyes. God has blessed you so that you can be a blessing to others. It’s time to let God transform your intentions into actions.
Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, wrote WEIRD: Because Normal Isn’t Working (Zondervan). This article originally appeared in RELEVANT. To read more articles like this, you can subscribe by clicking here.