42: The importance of generosity (Luke 12:30–34)

Scripture ReadingLuke 12:30–34

Market economies are predicated upon the generation, exchange and accumulation of privately owned wealth. This reality is so deeply embedded in many societies that the pursuit and accumulation of personal wealth has become, for many, an end in itself. But Jesus does not see the accumulation of wealth as a proper end in itself: he indicates that wealth must be used with a deep concern for neighbors.

Jesus’ first problem with wealth is that it tends to displace God in the lives of wealthy people: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Jesus wants people to recognize that their lives are defined not by what they have, but by God’s love for them and his call upon their lives. Luke expects us — and the work we do — to be fundamentally transformed by our encounters with Jesus.

Perhaps wealth’s most insidious effect is that it can prevent us from desiring a better future. If you are wealthy, things are good as they are now. Change becomes a threat rather than an opportunity.

God’s secret weapon is generosity. If by God’s power you can be generous, wealth begins to lose its grip on you. It is much harder for the rich to be generous, but Jesus teaches how generosity might be possible for them too. One crucial path to generosity is to give to people who are too poor to pay you back. Generosity that earns favors in return is not generosity but favor-buying. Real generosity is giving when no payback is possible, and this is what is rewarded in eternity. Generosity allows room for God to be your God.

Prayer: Jesus, grow me in sincere generosity toward others. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Jesus and Wealth in the Book of Luke from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.

Author: Theology of Work Project

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