I believe the only way to break the power of materialism is first, to see ourselves as stewards that God has entrusted these money and possessions to, and second, to give. Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). As long as I still have something, I believe I own it. But when I give it away, I relinquish the control, power and prestige that come with wealth. At the moment of release, the light turns on. The magic spell is broken. My mind clears, and I recognize God as owner, myself as servant and other people as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me.
The New Testament offers guidelines for giving that can help us fight the pull of materialism:
1. Give. Giving affirms Christ’s lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me and transfers my center of gravity to Heaven.
2. Give generously. How much is generous? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. If you’ve never tithed, start there—then begin to stretch your generosity.
3. Give regularly. Stewardship is not a once-a-year consideration, but a week-to-week, month-to-month commitment requiring discipline and consistency.
4. Give deliberately. Giving is at its best when it’s a conscious effort that’s repeatedly made.
5. Give voluntarily. When we catch a vision of God’s grace, we will give beyond our duty.
6. Give sacrificially. We don’t like risky faith. We like to have our safety net below us. But we miss the adventure of seeing God provide when we’ve really stretched ourselves in giving.
7. Give excellently. Paul says, “See that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7).
8. Give cheerfully. If we’re not cheerful, the problem is our heart, and the solution is redirecting our heart, not withholding our giving.
9. Give worshipfully. Our giving is a reflexive response to God’s grace. It doesn’t come out of our altruism—it comes out of the transforming work of Christ in us.
10. Give more as you make more. Remember: God prospers us not to raise our standard of living, but to raise our standard of giving.
11. Give quietly. Showiness in giving is always inappropriate. (But sometimes our acts of righteousness will be seen by men and even should be.)