Yesterday I wrote a blog post to address the wrongful attitude of judging the way others spend their money, titled: Is Starvation the Churches Fault. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d strongly suggest that you go back and read it first as I feel it is so important to have a balanced view on this issue.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I also had to acknowledge another sobering side to the topic of wealth: greed and hoarding.
I think one of the first times my eyes were opened to the difference between a hoarder and a giver was watching the Walt Disney version of “A Christmas Carol”. It is a story of a greedy business man, named Ebenezer Scrooge, who is radically changed one night when visited by three “spirits” (the original story was written by Charles Dickens). It was truly haunting to see the ghost of his former business partner in chains because of his greed.
Scrooge was greedy! He turned away the poor, he under payed his worker and he continued to stack up his wealth, counting it over and over again.
“Come now, you who are rich, weep and wail for the misery to come upon you. Your riches have rotted and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and consume your flesh like fire. You have hoarded treasure in the last days. Look, the wages you withheld from the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter…” James 5:1-5
I remember when this verse became very real for me. A few years ago, I had a bin full of clothes that my kids had grown out of. I knew we would never need them again and I knew of someone in need that I could share them with. Yet a part of me wanted to make back some of the money I had spent on them, so I picked out the cheaper ones and put them in a bag to give to this lady. The rest of the nicer, more expensive clothes were put neatly away to be kept until spring when I could sell them. I patted myself on the back for I felt I had done a generous thing!
The next spring came, and when I opened the bin every single piece of clothing was ruined. Some how moisture had gotten into the rubbermaid container and they all had black spots of mold all over them. I couldn’t wash it out. They were ruined and I ended up throwing them away. Later, I read this verse in my devotions:
“Your riches have rotted and moths have eaten your clothes.”
I was cut to the heart! God had wanted me to give up these clothes and instead I had hoarded my wealth and it there it was, in the garbage testifying against me.
When God gives wealth, he expects us to share it. Period.
If I see my neighbour shovelling and I go and snow blow my own yard without offering to do his as well, I am hoarding a gift he has given me. If I can’t have people over to my new house for fear of them damaging it, then I am selfishly keeping to myself what God has given me to share! If I stock up my fridge and cupboards full of so much food that some goes bad and I have to throw it out, yet refuse to donate to the food bank in the grocery store line, my wealth WILL testify against me. If I can’t borrow out my cake decorating set, or my tools, or my clothes for fear of them being lost and stolen, I am no longer showing God thankfulness for what he is giving me. I am hoarding it. And I will be accountable to him for the way I’ve lived my live.
God gives wealth so we can share it, not so that we can live comfortably.
There are many rich Christains who have been a shining example to me of what it looks like to be a wealthy follower of Christ. But sadly, there are many, many more who are hoarding their wealth, making millions while their employees are barely scraping by, who would never even consider welcoming a stranger into their home, who are loading up their bank accounts for retirement while forgetting about the hundreds of thousands who will never live to be 65, because they will die of starvation before then. This is my warning to you:
Your wealth WILL testify against you, please, hold it with open hands.