Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with a number of very wealthy individuals. Many of these people are genuinely happy. Yet the key to their freedom, joy, and confidence is not their money. Having the cash to buy or do whatever you please does not guarantee contentment.

Likewise, the secret to financial freedom is not couched in wise investments, meticulous budgets or debt-free living. All these things are valuable — yet even the highest investment return or the most carefully constructed budget affords very little in the way of real confidence and joy if one key ingredient is neglected. That one ingredient — and the ingredient that makes true freedom possible — is generosity: the willingness to use your time, talents, and material wealth to benefit others and impact eternity.

I have spent more than a quarter-century studying financial and investment strategies. I’ve written several books and spoken to countless people via television, radio, and in person. I am often introduced as “the guy with all the answers.” But if I could boil down everything I have ever learned into one sentence or thought, it would be this: Generosity and financial freedom are inextricably linked.

The Bible supports this principle. “Give, and it will be given to you,” promises Luke 6:38. “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing,” says Proverbs 28:27. And, according to 2 Corinthians 9:6?7, “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously…for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Many of our firm’s clients are living, vibrant examples of this truth. The folks who enjoy genuine freedom and joy are those who give the most, relative to their incomes. Giving is more than just a way to use your money. It’s a lifestyle, a way of living that allows you to hold all that you own — including your time and your talents — with an open, generous hand.

To me, one of the most significant verses of the Bible is Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your treasure is the thing that is most important to you. Maybe it’s a job The Secret Ingredient to Financial Freedom, page 2

Promotion, a new house, or a new car. Maybe you want to get married or have a child. Maybe you just need a vacation, and you dream about soft white beaches and vibrant sunsets. Regardless of you particular passion, your treasure is what you think about, what you go after, what you want to attain. It’s where your heart is.

What about you? God knows your heart can’t be devoted both to him and to wealth or material pursuits. You cannot, as Matthew 6:24 puts it, serve both God and money. God does not say it’s difficult, to ser both. He does not say we should try really hard to serve both. He says it’s impossible to serve both. You must make a choice.

God asks you to give because he want’s your heart. Your behavior says a lot about what you truly believe. How do you feel about giving? Do you really believe God loves a cheerful giver and that he will reward your generosity? Can you hold your treasure — your money, your possessions, you time, your talents — with an open hand? Are you willing to give him your heart?

If your answers to questions like these point to the need for a change, you need to know that the transformation will come as a process. Generosity doesn’t happen overnight. But God does promise us this: if we seek him first, and keep on seeking him first, everything else — food, clothing, and all of our needs — will be taken care of (see Matthew 6:33).

I want to challenge you, philosophically, to evaluate your willingness and ability to give. If you have not done so already, start stockpiling your treasure in heaven. Send it on ahead. You’ll be glad you did — and all the more as you begin to watch God’s miracles unfold.

Adapted from Generous Living by Ron Blue.

Copyright © 1997 by Ronald W. Blue, published by Zondervan, used with permission.

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