Overcoming Greed And Cultivating Generosity (Part 1)

Pursuing God's kingdom over earthly riches

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Several years ago, my 4-year-old son confronted my ideas on sharing when I did not want to give some of his toys away (you can read the story HERE).  Little did I know that was just the beginning of God challenging me in this area. I often thank God for the blessings in my life, which include my many possessions and comforts . . . but I am starting to wonder if some of these things (and the wealth that surrounds me in my community) are not always blessings. Instead, could these comforts be blinding me to the needs and suffering in this world, and actually encumbering my giving and dependence on God?  Scripture warns us that the riches of this world can hinder us from God’s kingdom (1 Timothy 6:6-10), so would it be better if I had “just enough” instead of more than enough?

Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?' Proverbs 30: 8-9

The dictionary defines greed as, “An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth.” I have never thought of myself as a greedy person, but the truth is I often seek to acquire more than I need. If I come into extra money, my default is to spend it on me . . . to start shopping for nicer or bigger things. 

God does not want to limit us in possessing the accoutrements of this world.  However, He demands that ultimately they must draw us to Him. If they do not, they will distract us and push us away from Him. Remember, our heart lies where our treasure is (Matthew 6:21). - Sean Bolz

When we hoard wealth instead of using it to help others in need, we operate in a principle that is contrary to the gospel. "If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person (1 John 3:16-18)?”  God’s love should compel us to act, so I am left wondering whether my giving is stunted because I don’t SEE these brothers and sisters in need every day . . . or am I oblivious because I am conditioned to ignore the needs around me? Have I gone so long believing that a 10% tithe is “enough,” that I do not look for ways to give beyond that?

The greatest commandment is to love God with all my heart and to love my neighbor as myself, so I want to know if I am missing the mark (Matthew 22:36-40).  Do my spending habits attest to my love for God and others, or are they evidence of a self-centered life?

In Mark 10:17-25, Jesus tested the rich man’s allegiance by telling him he should sell all his possessions and give them to the poor . . . but not because He wanted to deprive him of the good things in his life, rather SO THAT He could give him a better treasure!  And when the rich man refused, Jesus did not rebuke him; He looked at him and LOVED him.  Like with the rich man, there is an abundance of love for us too when we do not get this right.  But if I am willfully choosing between grace for my misgivings and the BETTER treasure Jesus has for me, I want the latter!

There are 2,350 Scriptures in the Bible on money and our use of it (REF 1). Money is no small matter to God because He knows our attitude toward money is an indication of our heart toward God - we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). But what if instead of serving money, we used money to serve us and God’s kingdom purposes?

I have been wrestling through Scriptures that challenge my lifestyle as a true disciple of Christ (not just a believer), and this blog is part of that journey. As the missionary Heidi Baker said, “It is easy to die for Jesus, but it is more difficult to live fully for Him.” I am praying for God to grant me the grace to walk out my faith in more courageous and sacrificial ways.

I have come up with two lists to help me think and pray through my patterns of giving.  The first list (Part 1 of this blog) lays out principles for me to personally and prayerfully consider regarding giving. The second list (Part 2) will offer practical tips to help me walk this out.  My hope is that these ideas will help you think and pray through these issues too.

1 - Look for ways that wealth might be a barrier to my faith. Is my affluence deceiving me into a mindset of self-sufficiency? Are my comforts and material possessions hindering my obedience to God? Are they fostering greed and blinding me to the needs of others? Am I valuing profit in my business more than I value the people coming to me for help? I do not want to be like the rich man who overlooked the poor man and suffered as a result (Luke 16:19-31) . . . or like Solomon, who was the wisest of the wise, and still let the great pleasures on this earth deceive him into idolatry (1 Kings 11:4). 

It’s uncannily easy to lose our desperation for Jesus to inherit what is His, when our circumstances cushion us with creature comforts. - Sean Bolz

Father forgive me for trying to seat myself at tables that Jesus would have flipped (Matthew 21:12-13). Search my heart and reveal anything offensive within me, and lead me in YOUR ways (Psalm 139:23-24).

2 – Use the Bible as my reference point for giving, not current culture. Materialism and greed are HUGE blind spots in American Christianity (as slavery was).

As the founder of Hobby Lobby, David Green, wrote, “The war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that: a war.” The enemy is constantly trying to entice me to covet things so that I use my money to gather more possessions instead of using it to care for others and accomplish God's purposes.

Those who have much are often quick to accumulate and slow to give away.  Yet those who have little are quick to share. They often give without remembering; they receive without forgetting. The poor are truly rich for the simplicity of their devotion. - Heidi Baker

Wealth is not inherently evil, but I must not be consumed with it or defined by it. I must hold loosely to my money, recognizing it is all God’s anyway. If I do this, He can trust me with more of His resources SO I CAN steward them well for His purposes (Matthew 25:23).

3 – Remember I will reap what I sow. The blessing lies in the giving (2 Corinthians 9:6). When we give, it releases God’s favor upon us (Proverbs 22:9) . . . especially when we help those who can never repay us back.  As a result, we get to experience the JOY of partnering with God in this process! Nothing is more wonderful than this – no possession could ever compare.

Once you begin to prosper in heaven’s money management program, you will never covet earthly prosperity again. You will never claim justice by entreating God for your natural provisions to meet your earthly needs. Instead, you will long for even more kingdom provision, which not only satisfies earthly needs but also goes far beyond – linking you to the heartbeat of heaven. - Sean Bolz

It is important to remember there is a difference between self-interested giving and altruistic giving, so my incentive for giving should not be for my own payback. We do not “give to get.” “When you give and expect a return, that’s investment. When you give and don’t expect anything back, that’s love.” (REF 2).

4 – Pray that God would open the eyes of my heart and give me a kingdom-mindset.

Perspective does not just show up at our door. We must cultivate it, care for it.  We must deliberately seek to see the world through God’s lens over our own desires and agenda. As David Platt wrote, the choice is ours; “We can stand with and for the starving or with the overfed.”

I am praying for God to help me UNLEARN any mindset that obstructs my vision so He can rewire my selfish defaults and give me a heart for the earth’s poor.  When we remove the blinders and acknowledge the reality of suffering in this word, it becomes easier to give because love motivates us to help others, not duty (Psalm 116:12).

Giving is regularly described as a “grace” that God places on our lives - THIS is what empowers our generosity.  Our job is not to just muster ourselves to give more, but to ask God for more grace in giving, for Him to soften our hearts and compel us by His love to give as He leads us. If we intentionally seek God on this matter, He will not be silent. He will show us where to start.

Paul writes about the incredible generosity of the Macedonians - they gave beyond their means (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). However, as Sean Bolz explains, “we can only be led to do this through an encounter with the Holy Spirit. People who are stewarding resources for the kingdom cannot maintain an extravagant heart unless they regularly encounter God’s heart.”

So, I am seeking to encounter God’s heart regularly, in every way I can . . . and asking Him to continually increase my desire to give, even beyond my means.  I recognize this will be a work in progress, but I am committed to looking for ways I can give more so I can cultivate a lifestyle of greater generosity. 

5 – Store up my treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:19-21).

When we understand the temporary nature of this world and all that is in it, it should radically alter how we manage our resources . . . You can’t take it with you – but you can send it on ahead. - David Green

Ultimately only what is done for Christ will last . . . so I need to consider now what kind of legacy I want to leave behind. I have a plaque in my office that reads “Eternity.” I put it there as a reminder that I should spend my time and money on the things that really matter . . . because whatever I do for the “least of these,” I do for Christ (Matthew 25:40).

As Jim Elliot wrote, "He is no fool who gives what He cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

6 – Recognize God wants to bless me SO THAT I can be a blessing.

 Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When we seek first the riches of heaven, God can entrust us with those on earth. As Sean Bolz wrote, “We are the only people not trying to make money to make money; we are trying to accumulate to bring about God’s desire on the earth, and He will spare no expense to work through you to establish His habitation in His people on the earth.”

We need a sense of urgency about God’s priorities for the resources we’ve been given. We need to wake up!  The purpose of wealth is to advance the things HE cares about, and one day we will give an account to God for this. Were we faithful with what He gave us (our time, money, talents, etc.)?

Nearly everyone reading this blog is in a position of privilege. We are educated – we have food, clothing, shelter, a car, and much more. We are among the privileged, the world’s wealthy. Since God has entrusted us with the privilege of wealth, the question is, what are we going to do about it?

Love has no meaning if it isn’t shared.  Love has to be put into action. You have to love without expectation, do something for love itself, not for what you may receive.  Love in action is what gives us grace.  We have been created for greater things . . . to love and to be loved.  Small things, done in great love, bring joy and peace. To love, it is necessary to give. To give, it is necessary to be free from selfishness. - Mother Theresa

*Part 2 of this blog will discuss how to apply these principles in practical ways.


David Green "Giving It All Away . . . And Getting It All Back Again: The Way Of Living Generously"

Sean Bolz "Keys To Heaven's Economy"

David Platt "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream"

Heidi Baker “Compelled by Love”


"The Idolatry of Comfort and the Glory of Christ" by David Platt

Carey McNamara

I am a wife to Bob, a mom to Connor, and a physician assistant who is passionate about beating heart disease. As a devoted lover of Jesus, I am on an unending quest for more truth, love, and wholeness through Him. I have come to a place in my life where I realize God is not afraid of my questions, and I have learned the joy of pursuing Him until I discover His heart. As a result, I created a blog to encourage others in their own journey towards Life, Liberty, and Love in Christ. I am passionate about doing life authentically in community, and am thrilled to share a bit of that with you here.

*Please comment respectfully. I welcome honesty as you share your thoughts and feelings. However, since many of these subjects are controversial, I ask that you take care to honor others in the process. I reserve the right to delete any inappropriate comments.