“Preaching to the choir…”

“Preaching to the choir” means expressing an opinion or argument to people who already agree with you.  I’m not betting on that. While I know this article pretty much has an audience of “church goin’ folk” who have heard similar content before and may even believe at least in the scripture references, believin’ just ain’t quite followin’ if you know what I mean. What I have to say here will be unsettling for some readers. I’m gonna talk about the correlation between our faith/trust in God and our degree of surrender to Him as his property managers. Maybe it’s time to look at that.

Our faith, our trust in God has a lot to do with the degree of our expression of generosity. Reading these words may be about as far as some of you choose to go before you click to YouTube, but the subject of giving really is something we need to consider. We need to look at this from a “heart” perspective and see what God’s mirror may show us, for this truly is a matter of the heart. Sadly, financial giving is a subject many households fail to discuss among themselves, choosing instead to leave as a mystery what their response could or should be to the generosity of God towards them. It’s a teaching point.

A commendation Paul gives to the Macedonian church (2 Cor. 8:2+) sets the bar pretty high. But their motivation was the key behind such comments as “out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” Did you catch that their giving was not out of an abundance or excess of resources, or from leftovers as we often give, but while in trials and need? And they were happy!  Paul goes on to say “they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”  Now how does one do that?  These believers pleaded for the privilege of sharing their resources. Does that sound like the American church? Does that sound like you? Here’s the key, the motivation: “They did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us.”  No wonder Paul admired them. They had given and entrusted themselves to the care of the Lord.

This is what is at the core of giving by faith. When we mature to the understanding that everything is ultimately God’s – “All things were created by Him and for Him,” (Col.1:16)we begin to have an understanding of what stewardship or managing God’s (not our) resources is all about. These believers gave generously to others, trusting that God would continue to provide for their own needs. Our natural tendency is to think, “When I have more, I’ll give more.” (And that seldom happens in proportion to the rise of one’s resources) The principle of giving by faith says, “I’ll give out of what I have and I’ll trust that God will continue to provide for me.” Paul told the Philippian believers “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:9) Giving by faith means that we give even though we cannot see all the details of how God is going to take care of us. Is this the practice of your household? Faith is believing what God says no matter how things look.

Rejecting the practice of giving by faith leaves two alternate and often practiced motivations. Both are rather ugly and I hope you don’t know anyone like this. Fear may be the motivation. Not believing that God can indeed be trusted with one’s financial wellness to the same degree we trust out eternal souls to Him.  Essentially, being wiser than God and sensing I know how to do what’s in my best interest and security. So much blessing is forfeited if one adopts this mindset. The second is equally lethal. Simply stated, it’s selfishness. Insuring that I (don’t miss the “I” part) take care of myself and do what I can to be sure I have “enough.”

Jesus clearly addresses our hearts when He directs our attention to what we really treasure. “For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” (Lk. 12:24) This scripture is true stated in reverse, by the way. My intention of bringing this to your attention is not to produce guilt, but sobriety. Jesus calls us to look at what is most important to us and how we are investing our time, talent and treasure. May I encourage you this week to consider this matter carefully. Take time before the Lord and examine your practices generosity. If you are married or have a family, make this a matter of discussion so there can be a sense of direction and agreement in your giving. God honors our planned, proportional giving. Don’t believe me? Then read Luke 21:1-3. Generous people are energized by talk of generosity. Are you? Think About It.