“I’m a student.”
“I don’t yet have a good job.”
“I’ve got debt.”
“I need to establish myself first.”
“I have ____ to pay for and ____ to save for.”
These are familiar and logical reasons people have for not giving financially to the church – both the institutional church and the broader work of God. Logical, yes, but God isn’t logical. In fact, the kingdom of God is very often the opposite of what we would expect.
I want to draw our attention to an encounter Jesus has in Luke 12:13-21. A man asks Jesus to tell the man’s brother to share their father’s estate. And the familiar parable ensues: a rich man made a large profit so he decided to build bigger storerooms to keep his wealth. Very logical, isn’t it? This thinking and approach falls in line with familiar advice about saving for one’s future by investing to maximize returns.
But what does Jesus say? Well, unfortunately for those of us who like security, Jesus calls him a fool. Nothing in this world can go with us to the next and it’s about having a rich relationship with God.
What I’m interested in is why the man wanted to hoard his wealth, a temptation that I often fight. I’ve recently left my job of 10 years to pursue another career and that has meant that I’ve been focusing on gaining experience over making money. There’s nothing like living off savings with no income source in the foreseeable future to foster a scarcity mentality.
As I’ve reflected on why money is on my mind so much, I’ve realized it’s about control. There’s security with stable finances. We know we can pay our rent or mortgage, buy groceries and heat our home. We can plan for the future and even give a little to others. Often our priorities are in that order. Jesus would perhaps call us fools. Logical, yes, but not in God’s perspective. So the big question is, where are we putting our trust? Giving is a Lordship issue, not a financial issue.
Giving causes us to look and live beyond ourselves. It acts on the belief that everything we have is a gift from God. Giving more than we think is ‘reasonable’ forces us to pray and listen to God about how he wants us to use our money. Once we have a sense of that direction, giving generously causes us to exercise faith that God is our ultimate provider and source of sustenance.
Sometimes people think they need to be mature in their faith to be able to give. I would argue, however, that giving while one is young or young in faith is an action that matures us. It establishes us in knowing that all we have is from God. It encourages Kingdom-focused money management rather than being self-focused. And it enables the giver to be a part of ministries and thereby connects them with the broader and global church.
Generosity is a muscle that grows in size and effectiveness with increased use. Just like building physical strength, it involves re-training ourselves to understand money from a Biblical perspective and growing our faith in God as our source of everything. So maybe it is logical after all.