Why Do We Hoard What We Have Been Given?

There are many very strong warnings in Scripture about what we have been entrusted with, and our responsibility to rightly use it. In Luke 12:48 we find these words of Jesus: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

He of course offered similar warnings in his parable of the ten talents in Matt. 25:14-30 (and the parallel account in Luke 19:11-27). There we see the principle of Luke 12:48 clearly stated. Those who put the talents to good use were rewarded and given more. Those who did not, but sat on them or hid them, were severely rebuked.

As the master said to the “last, wicked servant”: “So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 28-30).

Very strong words indeed. When God entrusts us with something, he expects us to use it. We are not to sit on it, forget about it, ignore it, or trifle with it. Instead, we are to use it for the glory of God, and the good of others. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.

The most obvious gift which God has given us is the good news of the gospel. We are entrusted with the gospel, not to hoard it, but to share it far and wide. If we are not actively, wilfully and regularly seeking to share this greatest of all gifts, then we really have to ask some hard questions about ourselves and our faith.

It is not just in the New Testament that we find this strong sense of urgency in sharing the good things God has given us. There is a very interesting story found in the Old Testament which some of you might be familiar with. It deals with this very same theme, and the obvious application of it for us today should not go unnoticed.

The story itself can be found in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20. It concerns a siege which has been laid by the king of Aram against the city of Samaria. It was a very thorough and lengthy siege which contributed to a horrible famine. Indeed, things became so bad that we read this appalling account of what the Samaritans had to resort to:

“As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, ‘Help me, my lord the king!’ The king replied, ‘If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?’ Then he asked her, ‘What’s the matter?’ She answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.” So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, “Give up your son so we may eat him,” but she had hidden him’” (vv. 26-29).

What a ghastly and awful scene. We can hardly grasp the desperation of these poor souls. But we read further about how both the siege and the famine was overcome. Four lepers outside the gate engage in a conversation which may be one of the more amusing episodes in Scripture:

“They said to each other, ‘Why stay here until we die? If we say, “We’ll go into the city”—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die’.” (7:3-4).

So they head to the camp of the Arameans, only to find it deserted, due to a miraculous work of the Lord. So they gorged themselves on food and gathered up the many treasures. But then they are struck with some Godly sense: “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves” (7:7).

The spiritual implications for believers today are of course all too apparent. Indeed, this entire story provides a great picture of what the gospel is all about. We are all in a spiritual famine, besieged by Satan, and surely doomed. There is no way out.

But then a way out does appear. And it is incumbent upon those who have found this good news to share it with others. Jesus has made a way for us to be set free from sin and death. Those of us who have found that great salvation now have a solemn obligation to tell others about it as well.

While this OT story obviously has a direct bearing on what we as Christians should be doing with the gospel message, there are other implications as well. Anything which God has given us – talents, wealth, knowledge, possessions, abilities – must be used for Christ and his Kingdom.

We dare not sit on them or refuse to use them. God’s gifts to us are never an end in themselves. They are always meant to be passed around to others. Again, the implications of this are manifold. They are so many applications of this truth.

For example, believers have the truth of not just the gospel, but of all the key issues of the day. For example, we have – or should have – the truth about things like the sanctity of life (abortion, euthanasia, etc.), about God’s plans for family and sexuality, his means of living a successful and fulfilled life, and the like. Do we know these truths? Are we sharing them?

What are we doing with all that God has given us? Are we passing it all around as freely as we have received it? We better be. Remember what the four lepers so wisely said: “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.”

We believers all have so much good news and so many great gifts. Are we doing right with them, or are we just keeping it all to ourselves? All of us need to take stock here. Remember, one day we will all give an account of the many good gifts we have been given.

[1090 words]

6 Replies to “Why Do We Hoard What We Have Been Given?”

  1. Hi Bill,
    In my opinion this is a crucial message for this time, as we have vast resources available for us at this time. Never have we had greater access to Theological resources, Wealth, Cheap travel, Communication etc. Surely we are without excuse.
    In terms of wealth we should be living in reverence and fear when we receive wealth as “for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” Deut 8:18. Looking to invest it wisely in the gospel in the same way that a good investor will search for fruitful investments.
    I fear that typically Christians continually divide their life into secular and sacred categories. Sunday is viewed as sacred, mon-sat is secular, their work/studies are secular, their money is secular, family life can be secular etc. The only exception seems to be those who are in full time ministry and those going overseas for mission etc. Until this view is broken we will continue to see people hoarding what they are given.
    Jono Bertuch

  2. Hi Bill,

    I’m wondering if you have any thoughts in terms of guidelines for us with how we should give in terms of money?

    A big issue I see is that I think it’s Biblical to pay our debts (Rom 13:8 I believe), that we shouldn’t spend money on anything but repayment (in giving or otherwise) if we owe someone for something. This presents an immense problem for every Christian who has a mortgage. Should we stop giving until we are debt free?

    I think yes in theory (although in practice, I have some debts but I still allot some for giving), in which case we have a Biblical injunction to avoid debt if possible in the first place to allow freedom with giving.

    The nature of debt in modern society is an immense problem, and one i fear we often don’t think Biblically about. It feels like we’re enslaved to the monetary credit system in many ways to tell the truth.

    God bless,
    Isaac Overton

    PS. your main point of sharing the gospel is well made, and a great challenge – thank you.

  3. Thanks Isaac

    Hey that would require at least an entire article to begin to answer some of your questions. Good questions though, so stay tuned. Will see what I can do.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  4. Isaac,
    God takes first fruits. So before the mortgage comes out and before the tax you give based on your whole income (gross) then live on the rest.

    How much to give is dependent on what the Holy Spirit has pinged you for. But you must be consistent and cheerful with your giving. I tend to see 10% as the floor to start from. OT giving amounted to 25% for each Israelite minimum.

    Remember all your money is God’s so its not a case of how much of MY money I give but how much of HIS money I keep…

    Michael Mifsud

  5. I take these passages as also an invocation to capitalism. That is, don’t hoard your wealth and treasure it too much, but go out and do something with it (which always involves some risk). Invest it so that it creates wealth not only for yourself but for others in the form of jobs, better products, R & D, etc. You don’t have to give money away to do good with it.
    Damien Spillane

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