John Piper writes, "There are three levels of how to live with material things: (1) you can steal to get them; (2) or you can work to get them; (3) or you can work to get in order to give." I'm quite confident that none of us falls into the first category, but is merely not stealing enough to fulfil what the Bible calls us to? The society around us urges us to live at level two. We commend children when they learn to work hard to get what they want. The assumption all around us is that we should spend the money we worked hard for on something special for ourself. Sure, this is better than having the attitude of stealing and mooching off other people, but the Bible calls Christians to take it one step further. Paul writes, "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." (Ephesians 4:28) Christians are called not just to work in order to get, but to work in order to get in order to give. As Christians, we are able to be distinctive from the society around us in this way because we recognise that we are citizens of heaven, we don't need to invest in all the lavish products and experiences in this life because we have a better life to come. More importantly, we believe in a God of this description: "He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) When we have enough to live on this is a gift from God. When we have abundantly more than enough this is also a gift from God. Skills for our work, employment opportunity, a good harvest, an end of year bonus... none of these are within our control, none of these are earned by us, these and many other factors are because of God's grace. And when we recognise that what we have has more to do with grace than efforts then we are liberated to show grace to those in a time of need. We can joyfully work to get in order to give.
Inspired by The Purpose of Prosperity from Desiring God by John Piper