Jesus said, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.” Are we disobeying Jesus if we don’t literally give away all that we have?
Well, Jesus was never ashamed to tell his disciples, or potential disciples, to liquidate their assets and give away all their cash first. This gives rise to today’s question, from a college student named Noah. “Hello, Pastor John and Tony! I’m a Christian Hedonist at Stanford University, finishing my third year of undergrad. I just finished reading the chapter on money in Desiring God and I’m faced with a question: Why should I not give all (or a significant portion) of what I earn to the Lord?
“Most teaching I’ve heard on money and tithing has pretty much said, ‘Give! And give generously!’ I want to give as generously as possible and invest eternally. But at what point does my giving to the Lord become irresponsible? Right now, I don’t earn very much. But I also don’t need much. Of the $10,000 I earn, I only spend about $2,000. After giving over 20 percent to God and investing the rest, I still can’t help but feeling like my reward would be greater in heaven if I gave more, which I’d happily do.
“The problem is, I think I would feel the same way after giving 30 percent or 50 percent or 80 percent to God, too. But is that a problem? Wasn’t the widow commended for giving everything? Aren’t we told not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear? Jesus said, ‘Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old’ (Luke 12:33). And you said in Desiring God, ‘Jesus is not against investment. He is against bad investment — namely, setting your heart on the comforts and securities that money can afford in this world. Money is to be invested for eternal yields in heaven’ (193). So if God has given me a generous heart and blessed me beyond my necessities, why should I not give everything?”