“Thank you…thank you…thank you.” Parents drum these two little words into their children from an early age. We are taught to thank those who give us gifts for Christmas or our birthday. We are taught to thank those who do kind deeds for us and care for us. We thank those who serve us…and we thank God for his provisions for us.
Gratitude is one of life’s first important lessons. It’s responding to someone’s generosity. It’s giving back to the one who gave first. It’s returning a favor. It’s being thankful for a wonderful gift. At the heart of it, gratitude is a response to life. The psalmist admonishes us to give thanks to God for his goodness. (Psalm 136:1)
The greatest gift that any of us has ever received is the gift of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 9:15) Without Jesus we would be without either hope for eternity or the resources to meet life’s challenges. Yet in him we have both. Our salvation from sin and its impact should be enough to drive us to eternal gratitude, but there is so much more. James reminds us that every good gift we have comes from God. (James 1:17) We show gratitude for a blessing of this magnitude by giving generously to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11)
When Jesus’ disciples were getting worried about the necessities of life, he turned to them and said, loosely paraphrased, “Don’t get all worried about what you’re going to wear or even what you’re going to eat; rather, make your priority God’s Kingdom and let God take care of the rest.” (Matthew 6:25-33) This was just after advising them, not to focus their investments on earth where you may lose them but to invest in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21) By giving a legacy gift we are investing in God’s Kingdom and laying up treasure or rewards in heaven.
Scripture teaches that the resources we have are not ours; they are God’s. The psalmist proclaimed, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1) We are stewards rather than owners of our assets—yes, even of our very lives. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
At creation, God instructed Adam to use creation’s resources in the service of God and man. (See. Genesis 1:28) In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus praised those who invested their talents—their time, treasure and abilities—in his work while strongly rebuking the one who hoarded the resource. He warns against greed noting that life is not about possessions. (Luke 12:15)
God gives us the abilities and opportunities to have careers, earn money, and make investments. Good stewardship of the assets God has entrusted to us requires prayerful planning and includes:
Providing for our physical needs. We need food; we need clothing; we need shelter; we need transport. Even as Jesus was encouraging his people to not obsess on food and clothing; he acknowledged that we have these needs—and that God provides by giving us money.
Providing for the needs of our family. In 1 Timothy 5:8, St. Paul notes, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Appropriate provision for family members varies with their stage of life. Gifts to adult family members need to assist them without destroying their initiative.
Providing for God’s work. God entrusts us with money so that we can invest it in his work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)