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What's It All About?

2 Corinthians 4:7
When we build on God's generosity to us, a seed is planted and we begin to grow to a place more in line with God's orientation

What's it all About?
July 2004

A story is told about John D. Rockefeller's younger years. The tycoon was always nervous, on-the-go, and unable to relax. Another meeting was always on the horizon, complete with opportunities for success and opportunities for stress. Before long, Rockefeller's health was in a significant state of decline. But when someone asked him how much success and wealth was enough, Rockefeller would always answer "A little more."

A news story described the state of the American financial psyche in a similar, but particularly delicate way: psychologists have recognized that the stress caused by "keeping up with the Jones's" was a significant contributing factor to depression in this country. Radio commentators made light of the power of this stress, jokingly calling the condition the "Jones Syndrome." The cure? Admitting to yourself that it's OK to take a break, and that the world won't end if someone else gets a new gadget before you do.

Or how about "saving"? Try a Web search on the term and you'll find sites dedicated to "spending to save." How's that for a concept? Spend a little more, and you'll save a little more. At the root of it all is more stuff for the same amount of money, and again we find ourselves asking, "How much is enough?"

But maybe that's not the right question after all.

What's in common at the root of all this is "I need a little more . . . I have to keep up...The things I want I can get for less money." Every one of those statements is all about I. We want to believe it's all about us and what we can do, but scripture points us toward another reality.

This other reality starts with a reminder that we didn't choose our salvation or even our gifts. Paul reminds the church at Corinth about this in 2 Corinthians 4:7.
"But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us."

When we start with that acknowledgement, our accumulation of material goods takes on a different tone. When we build on God's generosity to us, a seed is planted and we begin to grow to a place more in line with God's orientation. Generosity begins to flower in us, and we begin to see material things not as stuff for us to acquire, but as items to be given to those in need -- JUST LIKE GOD GIVES TO US! Virtually everyone has had a moment when they've been approached for a donation. Does God's generosity come to mind at times like that?

There's a hidden pearl in Paul's comment to the Corinthians. If we can rely on God's generosity to us, we don't need to exert ourselves trying to accumulate or spave or keep up with the Joneses. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths."

Where does our wealth really come from? What kind of investment rates does this produce?

What is the difference between wealthy and rich?

Someone once said, "True wealth starts with giving our riches away." How does that make you feel?

Stewardship Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Any part of Salt Seasonings can be reproduced with attribution. All Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV).


Salt Writer, July 2004.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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