True Life and Joy Aren’t Found in My Money or Possessions
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6
There’s a story in the book of Matthew that I’ve always found troubling. In the narrative (Matthew 19:16-22) a rich young man came to Jesus asking what he must do to find eternal life, and, in the end, Jesus told him that he must sell all he has, giving it to the poor. The young man went away sad because he was quite wealthy and couldn’t part with his riches. The story bothers me because I don’t know what I would do if God commanded me to do the same. I like my stuff. I don’t want to give it all away.
The story isn’t a blanket command that all Christians must give everything away, but still, it exposes a flaw in my thinking – that happiness is found in living my way. I’ve often sought, not eternal joy, but rather the immediate gratification found in my appetite. In my drug use, I followed my appetite to utter disaster and misery. I thought I could find fulfillment in going my way, but it was paradoxically only in surrendering my will that I could find authentic life, joy, and peace.
In today’s passage, Paul says it’s the same with our money. We think we’ll be happy, if only we can collect enough riches for ourselves. God, however, asks us to generously give to help those around us. It is in giving that we receive. If we give little, we’ll receive little. If we give a lot, we’ll receive a lot. This isn’t a promise that if we put money in the offering plate that we’ll win the lottery. This is a promise that if we give generously to help others, we’ll find the life, joy, and peace that we were looking for – but could never find – in our money and possessions.
We were made to know authentic life only in a relationship with God. Still, so often we look for our purpose and meaning in money and possessions. In clinging to our stuff though, we refuse God’s blessing of joy and peace. It is only in giving of our time, love, and money, we participate in his work, reaping his blessing. In refusing to give, we enjoy for a fleeting moment, producing misery later. In being obedient, we sow the seeds of life, joy, and peace that we will enjoy for a lifetime.