Wealth that is stored up on earth ‘where moth and vermin destroy and where [Ponzi schemers] break in and steal’ (Matthew 6:19) doesn’t stay wealth for long.
In fact, storing up wealth out of greed or fear not only hurts us spiritually, but also human institutions can wage war against this behavior. Put your money today in a CD for a year, and the best interest rate you can find is 1.34%. Even inflation of 3% will leave you in December 2011 with a net loss.
Or take an extreme case from the early 20th century, when German theoretical economist Silvio Gesell proposed something called ‘stamp scrip.’ Essentially a tax on currency that the government believed was being hoarded and designed to encourage its ‘velocity’ in the system, stamp scrip deducted 1% of the note’s value each month it was not spent. Therefore, if you didn’t spend your money in a reasonable time, thus stimulating the economy, it eventually would turn to valueless paper. In German, this was called schwund geld, or shrinking money. (My mother used to tell me as a child that ‘money was burning a hole in my pocket’ because I spent it so quickly. Had I lived in Germany in 1919, I would have been vindicated!)
The Gospel, on the other hand, rejects my hoarding what I consider to be my scarce resources (an individual behavior resulting from Capitalism), as well as rejecting the State’s forcible distribution of abundance (an organizational behavior resulting from Fascism). The Gospel says we should manage the abundance God gives us (Genesis 1:28) and give out of the scarcity that we sometimes feel (II Corinthians 8:2). When you stop and look at Jesus Christ, you see a God who distributed his abundance (his body and blood) freely for our gain. This gain is abundant life now in terms of spiritual fullness, and it is everlasting life in the world to come. In view of the eternal life we now enjoy and anticipate more of, even what seems scarce to us is not really so.
Therefore, as we enter the final days before Christmas, let us offer our gifts to the King, freely out of the abundance he’s given and out of the full assurance of eternal life, as an act of worship.
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