WHAT + WHY
It’s easy to have misconceptions about the relationship between financial generosity and our spiritual lives. There are three main ways we can miss the point of generosity.
First, it’s easy to think of it as a bonus. Many people think about giving my time, or my unique contribution, and on top of being a good person, and going to church, making a financial donation is something that is the icing on top. I get extra points if I practice financial generosity.
Second, it’s easy to think of financial generosity as a rigid requirement. There’s a number we’re challenged to give and we don’t think much beyond the numbers of it all. We make it a math equation, trying to nail the exact percentage that lets us live the way we want but still “check the box” for giving.
Third, it’s easy to think of financial generosity as a tool. Your church needs a facility project. The para-church ministry needs to make an expansion in ministry. There’s a project on the radar…and it costs money. Our giving is a tool to get something else done.
But that’s never how Jesus talks about financial generosity. Jesus talks about the intentional giving away of our resources as something that’s tied directly to our hearts.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)
According to Jesus, financial generosity isn’t a rigid requirement, a tool to accomplish something else, or even a bonus for the really good disciples…it’s a practice that shapes our hearts.
Prayer shapes our hearts to listen to God’s voice. Sabbath shapes our hearts to delight and joy and trust. Financial generosity is a similar practice that shapes our hearts to see beyond our own needs and to challenge our tendency towards self-reliance. In fact, the consistent, intentional practice of generosity is such a counter-cultural way of living that we can’t help but rely on God instead of ourselves.
If you want to engage this practice, think of it as a journey and ask “what’s the next step on my generosity journey?” Here are just a few “next steps” that God might be asking you to step into:
- Becoming an Initial Giver: This step is about deciding to trust God for the FIRST TIME. Something we’ve not done before.
- Becoming a Consistent Giver: This step is about choosing to give regularly. This step comes when we decide that this practice matters enough to make it a habit.
- Becoming an Intentional Giver: Rather than simply making giving a regular habit, this is when we put our generosity into the context of all of our finances. We choose to give on purpose, rather than with whatever we have left over.
- Becoming a Surrendered Giver: This step challenges us to think about what we are sacrificing so that we can give more. We can think about “what else” should be part of our giving why we’re surrendering more to Verizon than to God’s mission.
- Becoming a Lifetime Giver: In this step we’re thinking about planting a garden that blooms beyond our own lives. We let go of control of our own lives and think about the long-term impact of our generosity and how that mentality can govern all of our financial decisions.
Every one of us can take a step forward in this spiritual practice, but it takes some intention as it won’t just happen accidentally. What’s your next step?