It is amazing — perhaps even scary — how intimately connected a person’s heart is to their money. It is easy to spend money on the things or people you care about. Conversely, it is difficult to spend money on things about which you care very little. Our hearts are inextricably tethered to our pocketbook. Show me your bank statement, and I will tell what you love. It is impossible to disconnect money from deeper issues of the heart. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke more about money than he did about heaven and hell. During one of these instances, Jesus gave the following financial advice.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus’ words here are anomalous. They stand in opposition to conventional teaching on money. Jesus didn’t teach that your treasure goes where your heart is. Rather he taught that our hearts follow our money. In other words, you and I will grow to love the things we spend our money on. The implications of this are huge. It means generosity is one of the greatest weapons you and I have against idolatry. When we give, we are waging war against the sinful proclivity to place ourselves ahead of everyone else and choosing instead to invest in our own desires. What’s more, generosity is directly linked to our love for the gospel. Paul makes a clear connection between the two — generosity and a love for the gospel — in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. Both chapters are teeming with both gospel and giving language — the two are inseparable dance partners.
2 CORINTHIANS 8:7-9
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 CORINTHIANS 9:15
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
He looks to their giving and then looks to the gospel only to describe the gospel as an indescribable gift. In other words, Paul links our understanding of the gospel to generosity. The one who understands the gospel will give generously because Jesus’ death was the greatest display of generosity. But Jesus’ teaching in Matthew seems to indicate that this works both ways. When you and I intentionally give with Jesus’ gift in mind, we will grow to love the gospel increasingly — our hearts follow our money.
When you think about it, money really isn’t significant in and of itself. No person would give his or her entire life to earn small pieces of paper. Money is only notable for what it can provide us — it is a medium of exchange nothing more. We desire security and believe money will provide it. We crave comfort which money in most cases can buy.
With God’s help, we should long to love the gospel more every day. One of the best ways that I know how to do that is to give generously. Naturally, your sin won’t disappear by merely writing a check to your church every week. But I have found this to be one of the best ways to combat the sin, pride, and selfishness in my own heart. When I understand the gospel, it leads to generosity. But I also want to love and appreciate the gospel more, so I seek to be generous.