According to recent research, Christians give around 2.5% of their household income to charity. That’s a pretty small amount given the kind of lifestyle that many of us live. While I don’t think that number is reflective of Southside’s giving habits, I imagine there are many of us who could be more generous with our money and the resources we have. Probably many of us could also do better at opening our homes and sharing our possessions with those around us.
In Scripture, how one deals with money and possessions was a key marker or symbol on one’s discipleship or faith. For example, notice the contrasting stories of the Rich Young Ruler and Zaccheus in Luke 18-19. The Rich Young Ruler seeks Jesus out and is told to sell his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor if he wants to follow Jesus. The young man declines the invitation after hearing the requirement in regards to his possessions. Zaccheus, on the other hand, has dinner with Jesus. While we do not know what is talked about, the result is that Zaccheus accepts Christ’s call. We know this is true because of his response in giving half of his possessions away and making things right with those he had wronged. Two opposite actions related to money that represent or symbolize how each of them responded to Jesus’ call of discipleship. One accepted. One declined. One opened his heart to God. One closed it. We know this in what they decided to do with their possessions.
I believe it is the same dynamic today. A good way to take one’s spiritual pulse is to look at how we are handling our money and possessions. What percentage of your money are you giving towards God’s work in the world? How are you doing in sharing your possessions with others? How quick are you to give? How difficult is it to bless someone else materially? How often do you open up your home? Most likely, how you answer these questions will be a good barometer for how passionately you are following Christ. Answering the call to follow Christ is very closely tied to what and how we are going to handle our money and possessions.