By Nana Yaw Aidoo

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in the sermon on the mount spoke these words of life; "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt.6:19-21).

The emphasis of our Lord here was on the fleeting and perishing nature of material gain. With no banks and safes to store material riches in, the ancients kept their monies in their homes or buried them in holes they had dug. This made the treasures susceptible to thieves, moths, corruption and corrosion (cf. James 5:2-3). It's a fact of life that no man can take his riches with him or her to the grave. When John. D. Rockefeller died, it was inquired of his lawyer what the then richest man on earth had left behind. Turning to the inquirer, the lawyer replied; "he left everything". We can't take our riches with us to the grave, but we can send them ahead of us to heaven says our Lord.

The apostle Paul by inspiration tells us how to lay up treasures in heaven; "Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim.6:17-19). Quesnel wrote; "The only way to render perishing goods eternal, to secure stately furniture from moths, and the richest metals from canker, and precious stones from thieves, is to transmit them to heaven by acts of charity. This is a kind of bill of exchange which cannot fail of acceptance, but through our own fault" (Cited in Adam Clarke's Commentary on Matthew 6:20).

The idea of liberal giving permeates the sacred writings, which were inspired by a God who gave to men His Brightest and Best (John 3:16). And just as He did, He expects the same of us (Matt.5:43-48; Php.2:3-8). It has been said that "no man is truly altruistic". Nonetheless we are told that liberal giving to all men is a grace to abound in (2 Cor.8:7). Just like every other Christian grace, we ought to through prayer, patience and diligence (2 Pet.1:5, 10) develop and abound in the grace of liberal giving. Though difficult at first, the one who can not carry a bag of cement initially, can so practice carrying a bag of cement that carrying it eventually becomes easy. When that happens, it isn't the cement bag that has become lighter, but the ability to carry the bag that has increased as a result of the constant practice.

The idea that liberal giving renders the giver poor is a "wisdom" that "does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic" (James 3:15). The wise man wrote; "There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Prov.11:24-25). Also, "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (Eccl.11:1). Likewise our Lord said; "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 10:35).

The Lord expects us to give to all men (Gal.6:9-10) without grieving in heart (Deut.15:7-11) or grudgingly (2 Cor.9:7). And He certainly does not desire of us to postpone giving, when it's within our power to do so at any given point in time (Prov.3:27-28). He loves not God who seeing his brother in need and with the ability to help, turns the brother away; "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 John 3:17)

It needs be said that our Lord in the sermon "was not outlawing reasonable provision for the future, but He condemned the amassing of possessions as an end within itself. His primary concern was with a person's priorities:...where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...It is also true that where your heart is, there your treasure will be also" (Roper. The Life of Christ 1). In all of our dealings may we never forget these words; "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Tim.6:17).

"Use your money while you're living;
Do not hoard it to be proud;
You can never take it with you;
There's no pocket in a shroud"
(Brownlow. Do's and Don'ts for the Christian).

May the Lord help us to through liberality in giving, lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven.


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