Generosity, Greed, Faith, and Fear

Pastor Phil’s message on Proverbs 11:24-28 made me rethink and reconcile my own reaction and conviction when I read this passage from Proverbs earlier in the month. I think that running parallel to the battle between generosity and greed is the fight between faith and fear. I don’t feel any real desire to ever live in a mansion, drive a Lamborghini or wear a Rolex; I tend to find these kind of status markers off putting. But I do feel alarmingly anxious if the check engine light comes on in my ‘05 Accord, even though I know, by God’s grace, there’s currently enough in savings to cover most any repairs.

Whether greed or fear is the lever that gets pulled in our hearts, the actions and outcome in relation to our giving are largely the same: Don’t do it. You need this for yourself.

Greed thwarts our generosity by making us believe we will be happier and more satisfied by marshaling all of our resources to the pursuit of our personal wishes, conveniences and pleasures. It questions our faith that God can truly satisfy us. Fear thwarts our generosity by making us believe we must marshal all of our resources against some present or future threat to our personal well being. It questions our faith that God can truly provide for and protect us.

Against these disordered desires of our heart for either affluence or security, we need to work out the words of Solomon in Proverbs 11:24-28 and of Paul in 2 Corinthians 9. As Kaitlyn Schiess says, “When we lose the expectation that Scripture will convict us, discomfort us, and direct us on moral issues, we begin to look to other sources of moral authority.” The Wall Street Journal may be useful (and trust me, as a finance and accounting guy, I enjoy the WSJ), but it cannot serve as our ultimate authority on how we manage our finances and exercise generosity. To that we must submit it to the whole counsel of Scripture and to the Lord who gave it to us for his glory and our good. Let us imitate our cheerfully generous God.

by Steve Lamp
Steve and his wife Melissa began attending Kingsway in 2014. Not normally prone to public displays of emotion, he wept during the first worship service and knew he had found home. As an avid reader, Steve believes the ideas we allow into our minds are critical to our spiritual formation. He enjoys exploring nature, playing and spending time with his two young sons and over-quoting his favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard.

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