Friday, November 09, 2012

Generosity & Contentment

Gospel Centered Discipleship has posted one of my articles on their site today.  You might want to click over and give it a read.
The danger of wealth has been a prominent theme in the teaching of several pastors in recent years. John Piper’s chapter on money in Desiring God has shaped me and many others to a great degree. More recently, authors David Platt and Francis Chan have championed a similar message with their books Radical and Crazy Love.

Their message has met considerable resistance with counter warnings against embracing a “poverty theology.” Should we not rejoice in what God has given? Shouldn’t we want to take care of our families and provide for them? Shouldn’t pastors be paid well so their wives don’t have to work and they are not continually stressed out with financial pressure?

I’m afraid the framing of this discussion leads us to ask the wrong questions. Like the junior high boy who wonders “how far is too far” with his girlfriend, we are quickly caught up in questions about how rich is too rich, how poor is too poor, and the like. Where is the line? Do I feel guilty for having too much? Do the kids have enough? What does “enough” even mean? Should I feel guilty about not giving as much as so-and-so? If I give more, does that mean I am more spiritual? The hamster wheel of comparison, propelled by our spring-loaded legalism, keeps spinning unto exhaustion. We are all tempted to be prideful about what we give or feel guilty about what we don’t. Neither response befits the gospel, which crushes pride and erases guilt.

Still, the question remains: how should we handle money?
Read the rest.


What Is This? said...

Proverbs 30
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Phillipians 4
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Matthew 6:
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Money really isn't the issue. Its the person. Are we greedy or are we thankful? Are we idolatrous or are we faithful? Are we spenders or are we stewards? Are we owners or are we owned? Really depends are whether we honestly look at our lives in light of our relationship with a loving and kind Father who promises to meet our needs. Just my thoughts.

John Joseph said...

Just bought the book yesterday. I am only into the first few pages, but see a conflict maybe ahead. If this is what is in the back of the book it seems a differnet message from the into. I taken the from the first pages that we should be joyful in Gods blessings. I for one think that you don't have to take a stance of poverty to be servent of God. It's what you do with what you have that will make you who you are in his eyes. I look forward to reading the rest of the story.

Luma Simms said...

Zach, your article at GCD was fantastic. Excellent insight on Ramsey (BTW there's a slippery slope to miserliness also, so much wisdom is required). So glad you touched on some of the responses to Radical and Crazy Love. I've read Radical and loved it, have not read Crazy Love. It would be great to see someone wrestle with some of the issues on both sides and address the tension or perceived tension between living simply and giving most of your income to God, what is the proper line for pursuing riches or enjoying "riches" God has given and a host of other issues brought to the surface between those books and the responses to them. Hope to read more from you on this topic in the future.

In Christ,