Did Jesus Not Call Us to Give Everything?

An interesting topic came up at the Bible study I attended tonight and challenged a long-standing belief of mine. Though I thought this was a fairly common belief, I was apparently the only one at the Bible study who believed it. For that reason I’ve pondered it quite a bit this evening, and though I don’t necessarily plan on changing my views, I’m wondering what perspectives other people might have.

The passage that sparked the discussion was James 4:13-17:

13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

Specifically, verse 17 was the verse that sparked the discussion: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Personally, I’ve pretty much always believed that Christ calls us to give up everything we have and give it to the poor, which ultimately means to give it to Him. This then, combined with the above verse, leads to the conclusion that not giving up everything we have is a sin in itself, which I do believe. This is what my Bible study friends seemed to struggle with; they did not believe that it was necessarily a sin to keep any material possessions for themselves. They didn’t necessarily see anything wrong with storing up or consuming more than they truly need. And they seemed to believe that it was possible to be “entirely sanctified” (without sin for a period of time) while still owning more than the bare necessities, and not giving up everything to the poor.

Granted, as humans we do have needs, but God wants us to come to Him for our needs, and tells us that He will provide for us. Matthew 4:1-4 reads:

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Jesus’ response does not mean that we should refuse to eat; it simply means that food is not the most important thing in our lives. Instead, God is the most important, and bringing our needs to Him will always ensure that they are met, whatever they are. I believe that we are closest to God when we are self-sacrificing, and I believe that giving everything we have to the poor is likely the best way to remove the distractions that we have in our lives that keep us from spending time with Him. It is obvious that we are closer to God in times of need; why is it so difficult to grasp the concept of God asking us to give everything away to remove our obvious distractions?

I realize that this is a pretty unrealistic requirement, but what does Christ call us to do that isn’t unrealistic by the world’s standards? Christ calls us to be perfect, as He is perfect. In the words of Jesus, Matthew 5:43-48 reads:

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The end of this passage reads “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If we have any “luxuries” in our life (meaning anything that we don’t truly need or has the potential to distract us from God), I believe we are called to give these away, so that we may strive to be perfect as Christ was perfect. Christ had nothing more than He needed, and calls us to do the same.

So why don’t I get up myself and give away everything I have? Because I lack the faith. Because I’ll never be perfect, like Jesus. Although, the more I think about this topic, the more I want to give away myself, and the less interest I have in any material possessions. I truly believe Jesus has called me to give away everything I have.

So then, here are my questions for you:

  • Do you believe that you would be closer to God if you had less material possessions? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe that Jesus has called you to give away all material possessions?
  • Do you believe that Jesus calls all Christians to give away all material possessions?
  • Do you believe that it is possible to be “entirely sanctified” (without sin) without giving away everything you own?

Feel free to answer any or none of these questions, but I am very interested in your thoughts on the topic. Please let me know in the comments!

This entry was posted in Culture, Faith. Bookmark the permalink.

74 Responses to Did Jesus Not Call Us to Give Everything?

  1. Jim Paradise says:

    Hey Jason,

    I think I have figured something out, it’s not what you have or don’t have, but your attitude about it.

    I used to have a friend who have a lot of money, he was rich. He used to give to everyone and everything, that would advance the kingdom of God, he would buy old houses, fix them up and sell them to people who could not afford them, by giving them a mortgage that was so low and terms to fit whatever they could afford. He did not care if he made money, only that he helped them. He used to tell me, that he could never out give God and the more he gave, the more God would bless him with. If you think about it, God has his people in every church who help when someone needs a car, or a place to live or some other need. Where would the church be without them?

    I have learned to be content with whatever God sends my way, He will never give me a lot of money again, because I have demonstrated that I can’t handle it, but I don’t want it either. I feel He is telling me to just be aware of the man next to me who is hungry or the family who needs help, that’s his work. I have made it clear to Him that it’s all His to take away any time He wishes, and I am OK with that. However, I have recently found Him blessing me more and more, so I would say it is just our attitude about money that is the problem. However, I have to say, I have chosen to live with much less these days, I have no interest in being part of this world, or its lack of values, what a trap it can be, I think for a lot of people, this recession, has taken a lot of stuff, but has made them much closer to what and who is really important. Maybe it’s God’s way of saying look up here!

    Thanks for your website, and a place where Christians can help each other!

    Jim

    • Jason Carr says:

      Much agreed, Jim; it is definitely all about our attitudes. I’m like you, though, I’ve all but proven that I can’t handle much wealth. Thanks so much for your thoughts; they’re a great addition to the post. :)

  2. Alistair says:

    Hi Jason, thanks for the post, here are my answers for you

    Do you believe that you would be closer to God if you had less material possessions? Why or why not?
    –> It would make no difference, God is stronger than all the material possessions in our lives

    Do you believe that Jesus has called you to give away all material possessions?
    –> Not all of them; but I understand that a harvest of my wages is needed. Some material possessions I have and understand to be things God wants me to have and use, others exercise hold and so I am separated from them from time to time, others just mean nothing…

    Do you believe that Jesus calls all Christians to give away all material possessions?
    —> if necessary, there are lovely cases where all apostles shared all their possessions Acts 4 and warnings about hiding your possessions Acts 5.

    Do you believe that it is possible to be “entirely sanctified” (without sin) without giving away everything you own?
    —-> Completely, however if it is necessary then cut one hand off before it drags you to hell

    • Jason Carr says:

      Alistair, to be honest, I think you’re missing the point here a bit. Material possessions can certainly be distractions in our lives. God is stronger than all material possessions, of course, but we’re not. That’s the whole point. Material possessions can get in the way of our relationship with God.

      • Alistair says:

        If I had more possessions and was tempted by them then God would be close to me helping me give them up, if I had less then I would just have less and God would be close to me doing something else. If I give away all my possessions but do not have love then I am nothing. That phrase over the last two days has certain been tilting me away from Give Everything to Give Freely

  3. kum says:

    Well, I don’t know these days God asked me to give all the money away which I’ve been keeping to make my life dream come true. I have already given before also when God told me to do so. I don’t have much money, but the amount of money that I have barely enough to pay off my dream. To be honest, I’m struggling a lot as I have lack of faith. I listened to each and every single one by discussing this issue. I know God has the best interest in his heart for me when he asked me to do this. Naturally it’s so unfair and it doesn’t make any sense to me giving all I have to that person which she merely need that money for something less imporant . My dream is so important to me than their personal needs. Please someone help me. I just wanna obay him.

    • Jason Carr says:

      kum, wanna talk about it? Email me at jasondavidcarr@gmail.com.

    • Christian says:

      All good gifts come from above and God is please to give to us His kingdom and freely gives us all things for our enjoyment. We have to seek first the kingdom of God and ALL this things shall be added unto you. God wants us to be a good steward of the things entrusted to us.
      One more thing is not to be greedy.

    • Christian says:

      Sister God don’t need your money to give up to Him. God owns everything and the God who is more than enough.
      What God wants is to give yourself to Him, your old nature so that He can transformed you to the image of His Son Jesus Christ . And your love will be focus on God and not the things that you possess which are all temporary but rather things that are eternal.

      • KUM says:

        So true, AS i did what God wanted me to do he is going to do great things in my life very soon. I know he has a plan for my life not to harm me but to prosper him. very soon I will testyfy hhis goodness, loving kindness and grace through my life. His name will be gloryfy forever!!!!

  4. Cristy says:

    Mark 10 does say the Rich young ruler left sad – it was like he didn’t pass the test. My dad tells a story of a man on a donkey. God asks for each item individually and the man gives things up to God willingly at first. He puts them about 10 feet away. Then almost at the end the man has nothing. He feels a sadness but God then asks – will you give me yourself as well? So the man puts himself in God’s pile – 10 feet away – right next to his stuff. Now they are all Gods :-).

    I love that story.

    My life is for God yet some choices I feel were for me – long standing choices – who to marry, to have children or not. And sometimes I feel pulled by those who are in my life – or even a huge garden I didn’t know we purchased with the house (could have read the papers). Hours have gone into that garden – yet, it brings Glory to God – the signs I put up. Do I feel hindered by these things? Sometimes – Agh the weeds – agh a child not being perfect. But do my everyday struggles lead me closer to God? Yes.

  5. Cristy says:

    Yet I ponder Mark 10:29-30. The disciples say – we left everything to follow you. And Jesus says, “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” I don’t think the disciples received these things nor wanted them. But maybe in the afterlife? Is our reward in the afterlife going to be that much better.

    So Kum – I ask you – after you gave when God asked you to – were you glad you did? And do you believe God knows your deepest desires and wants to fulfill them? This is the God who also asked Hosea to marry a prostitute who wouldn’t be faithful. I also struggle with faith and if God is looking out for me or if I am part of the big pictures and will get swallowed up Ps 42:7 says it. I also search for meaning – and struggle with the desires of my heart.

    • KUM says:

      Hi Cristy,
      Yes I am glad I obeyed him. I know God is working for me event thought I haven’t seen any explosive blessings straighter way. My breakthrough is just around the corner. My life has begun to change little by little as I am walking by faith. He is God of order and in his perfect timing everything will come to pass. He is bigger than my dreams and heart desires. Actually it’s not about the blessings and my dreams; it’s about the love that that he shows for me. I know I passed the test. My reward is with him. All my struggles and my pains will come to an end sooner as I stand in faith. My pay day is closer. I know he has the plan for me which I never dreamt of. Anyway Cristy, Your comment is like a confirmation for me, Thank you, I know sometimes it’s hard to keep the faith as we live in this world, so spend time with him he will show you the wonders which is hidden in the darkness. (1Corinthians 4.5).

      KUM

  6. I think Jesus is literally calling us to live a life of sacrifice for Him and others. I think it is a sin for a Christian to literally have two coats when others go without. Another way to look at it. Every time you keep something for yourself you do not need it is storing a treasure on earth. Giving to someone in need is storing it in heaven. This is just plain dumb to the worldly person. But God will provide. He is not calling me to leave my job. Can I keep a few toys for my daughters? Would I give a toy to a poor person in a third world country. How much would I send? That will help me come up with What god wants me to have.

  7. What if living as a Christian meant that we took pleasure in helping others. Making food for them, crafts, clothes, sharing our resources. And that was our occupation instead of pleasure seeking. Then we find that we love Jesus and other more and become more and more selfless.Few people realize that enjoy actually means to give joy. God gives us things to enable us to give joy away. Just another way to look at it. I hope this helps. I went looking for this blog because I believe that I haven’t given up everything for Him. Is it because the He isn’t valuable enough for me to sell everything I have and invest everything in Him. I am still counting the cost. I hope I have another day to make this decision. To follow Him I mean.

  8. The Truth says:

    Who the hell is Jesus?

Leave a Reply