Giving Away Our Excess

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I once read our excess money is given to us to share with others. This is something I’ve tried to incorporate into my own life because I feel there is good Biblical precedence for it. Early Christ followers shared all they had with each other (Acts 4:32-35). This seems to go even beyond simply giving away our excess. In the Old Testament, God gave laws commanding people to not harvest the edges of their fields so the poor could come and get some food for their families (Leviticus 23:22).

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Jesus told us not to hoard our wealth (Luke 12:16-21). The next question I generally get when discussing this is, “How do I determine how much is excess?” To me, this question is always the result of a scarcity mindset.

A scarcity mindset thinks money is a zero sum game. If I have a lot, then someone else must only have a little. This mindset believes money is a finite resource so we must make certain we get our share. Unfortunately, it also leads to the belief of if we give our money away, it will only make someone else rich while leaving ourselves poor. First, I think the scarcity mindset is flawed. There is more than enough material wealth in this world for everyone to have more than enough. That’s called an abundance mindset. Jesus said He came so we would have an abundant life (John 10:10), so I’m going to take Him at His word and ascribe to that mindset.

Wise men of old asked God to give them only enough for today (Proverbs 30:7-9). I love this passage because it goes on to explain why: if we have too much, we might become selfish and take our wealth for granted while if we have too little, we might be tempted to get money in unethical ways. If you have enough for today, you have enough. The rest is excess. Now I can hear people howling it’s irresponsible to not save for the future, and I would agree. However, we must temper those thoughts with the teaching of Jesus that it is futile to store up your excess if you aren’t first storing up treasure in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21, Luke 12:16-21). So take care of your family first (1 Timothy 5:8, Isaiah 58:6-7), give generously next, and save for the future third. Your family is here now, the poor will always be with us (Mark 14:7), but the future is totally unknown. Therefore, invest appropriately.

Giving away our excess can be scary. It feels as if we are giving away our security, but the truth is our only security is in God alone. Money will come and go, but God’s provision will never be exhausted (Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:19, Nahum 1:7). Besides the Scriptural argument made above to show we should be giving away our excess, the life of Christ sets the same example for us. He held nothing back. He didn’t even hold back His life. He gave it all to those in desperate need (that would be you and me). To be followers of Jesus means we live our lives like He lived His. He gave generously until He had nothing left to give. How are we measuring up to the standard set before us?