Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21, Common English Bible).
Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others. St. Augustine of Hippo.
I had never heard this Augustine quote until I ran across it a few days ago. I really like it. Out of all God has given you, take only what you need so there is some left for others.
When I read it, my mind went immediately to two things. I’m not sure which I thought of first. One was the Scripture above from Matthew. The idea to stop collecting for my own benefit seems to be a foreign idea in our capitalistic society. We live in a work where enough is never enough. It is a world where people who already have millions keep it to themselves and try to collect even more for themselves. We just can’t seem to stop trying to gather more money and more stuff.
It is important, however, to realize this passage is not against the idea of saving. The Augustine quote is not against saving. Quite the contrary. To keep some of what you have because you are saving for the future is totally acceptable. It is the responsible thing to do. If we only keep enough for immediate need what happens to us when we reach a point in life when we can no longer work? What happens when the unexpected happens and we have nothing left? No, saving is taking a portion of what you have and saving it.
That brings me to the other thing that came to mind when I read Augustine’s quote. It is a quote by John Wesley, “Earn all you can. Save all you can. And, give all you can.” Wesley is saying to us that we need to be about more than just earning and giving. Saving is an important element as well. To be responsible stewards of what God has entrusted to us, saving must be part as well.
“Well, how are we supposed to know how much to save in order to know how much to give?” It is a good question. A few years back, I had someone tell me about something he called “The Rule of 80.” Take what you earn. Take ten percent off the top. That is the part to give. Take another ten percent. That is the part to save. We should live on the remaining 80 percent or less. If we have more than we need still, we have more to give away so we, “give all we can.”
I know of one preacher who says his goal is to flip the Rule of 80. He wants to reach a point where he is saving 10 percent, living on 10 percent and giving away 80 percent. Wow! What a goal!
In the end, people who are giving and share the treasure God has blessed them with are both healthier and happier. But the real thing is, if we are generous with what God has entrusted to us, God will bless our efforts.
Have a great day in the Lord.
Grace and Peace,
Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.