Thursday, October 31, 2013

Your money or your life #3: What money demonstrates about us

Here's my third question, after we've talked about the ownership and meaning of money (past 2 blogs):
  • How does money demonstrate our values? Habitual generosity is more an expression of life than an option or dreaded obligation for God's people. 
I'm going to be honest about our giving, not to boast (horrors) but to show what we've experienced. Paul said others would thank God because of the generosity of God's people: "You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (2 Corinthians 9:11) May you experience the pleasures of being part of God's flow of generosity to - and through - you!

Giving seems to be both learned and caught from others. My maternal grandma worked an extra job to support missions. My paternal grandparents helped many immigrants land on their feet, housing them, giving them money, and sharing food from their hobby farm. W's and my parents assumed that since everything belonged to God, we acknowledged that with a 10% tithe - off the top of our income, before spending elsewhere. Generous contributions were given above that for projects, the poor, etc.

My parents, relatively poor when I was born, became wealthier in middle age. They never flaunted their money to us kids. We didn't expect luxury items: Mom sewed our clothes. We kids rarely asked for money and worked to fund our interests. (I started teaching piano when I was 13.) Our folks built a house on a new - but average - street.

I remember the day Dad drove home with a new car. I was embarrassed because it felt too showy. What if my teen peers thought we were putting on airs? I complained to Dad about why on earth we had to drive such a big "boat." He smiled and said that people buying houses through his company wanted to see that he was prospering. His car expressed that.

When their money dissolved in later years, I asked Mom what she missed about being rich. "I don't miss being able to spend on ourselves. With less, it's true that life may feel uncomfortably pinched. I can live with that. But what I really miss is not being able to give during an appeal. We were generous without thinking much about it. Now we have to save and carefully monitor our spending on others. I miss giving."

That captured my attention because it reflected her heart and explained what I'd learned from my folks since childhood: it was fun to give, not just expected of us.

Giving reflects what is important to us. "Look at your checkbook and you will see your values," someone told me when I was in my 30s.

So I looked. Most checks listed the household, books, and donations. I taught piano while our kids were growing up. We'd purchased food, clothing, and kids' music lessons with that income. Called to serve at home and abroad, we tithed and helped fund cross-cultural projects as a normal expression of life.

Later, when I worked full-time for a while, it was pure joy to be a conduit of God's generosity to us! We supported many cross-cultural workers. Now others are investing in us. How cool is that? (Join our support team by asking for information here.)

Giving demonstrates what we believe, not what we say we believe. Let's get personal. Are you giving your life away or hoarding it? Living in community or living selfishly?

What would your friends and neighbors know say if they could see your expense records? What if they could monitor your outings and bank balance?

Does your management of God's resources demonstrate the values you talk about? Do your income and outlay align with the values you aspire to? With the future you dream of and hope for?

Why or why not?

Still thinking about it? Here's another post on learning to give by The Minimalist.

Read more:
*(Paul writes about giving and fundraising:) There is no need for me to write to you [Corinthian church members] about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you ... were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

Generosity Encouraged

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9 NIV

1 comment:

  1. Very challenging post Rose... and I dare say it steps on some toes! But in a good way... we all need to spur each other on to good deeds... looking at how we spend our resources and recognizing that our legacy should not be in the amount of $$ we leave... but in what those $$ of generosity could accomplish is indeed a lifestyle to cultivate. I respect your parents... their legacy of generosity to the body of Christ lives on. Thanks for a meaningful post.