The giving the past couple months at our church has been down. That's somewhat usual in church ministry, especially in the summer months. But as we look to bring on another pastor at Cornerstone Bible Church, this issue enabled our church to have some good, healthy conversations that are often hard to have. In leading up to talking about that, I had to do some thinking about my own heart and my own giving. And even after that time, I have had some more time to talk to my wife and more people from the church in smaller settings.
One thing that I keep being reminded of is how easy it is for me to subtly shift back towards materialism. When I am reminded of that, I always go back to Randy Alcorn's book, The Treasure Principle, which has influenced me more than any book on biblical stewardship. As I took a few moments and thought about that book, his 5th Key kept coming back to me: "Giving is the only antidote to materialism." He goes on to explain how giving helps us fight against the pursuit of ourselves in this life.
"The act of giving is a vivid reminder that it's all about God, not about us. It's saying I am not the point. He is the point. He does not exist for me. I exist for Him. God's money has a higher purpose than my affluence. Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. Giving affirms Christ's lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me. As long as I still have something, I believe I own it. But when I give it away, I relinquish control, power, and prestige. At the moment of release the light turns on. The magic spell is broken. My mind clears. I recognize God as owner, myself as servant, and others as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me. Giving doesn't strip me of vested interests; rather, it shifts my vested interests from earth to heaven--from self to God." (59)
I do not know where you are at in your life. God knows. But maybe the issue is not the amount on any check that you write. Maybe the issue is the heart behind the pen that writes the check. I agree with Alcorn, the only way I can fight against materialism in my life is to give more and more money away. What do you think? How do you fight against materialism in your life?