Sunday’s sermon was on the importance of sharing our blessings with others. Hopefully we all increase our generosity as time goes on, whether that is how we spend our money, give our time, and manage other aspects of our life.
Sometimes when Christians speak about giving, they will argue that God will “bless” you the more you “give.” This implies that God will reward givers for the sacrifice with some kind of material blessing. In the worst cases I’ve witnessed, I was under the impression someone argued that God would bless the generous with a winning lottery ticket!
I’m uneasy about this line of reasoning and think it distorts the true message of scripture. God never promised us worldly fame or fortune. In fact, following Christ is actually very costly! We surrender our will in exchange for God’s. We hopefully refuse to worship idols like money. And as with our service this weekend, by being a Christian, we are to live a life of generosity.
Nevertheless, I do think there are many “blessings” we can experience if we give. These blessings look different than what we might expect. They certainly don’t look like indulging our greedy tendencies (i.e. praying to win the lottery!). These “benefits” might not even look like good things compared to how our sinful world operates. But note what I’ve learned through studying scripture, pastoring, and managing my own life…
Giving forces you to budget
This “benefit” deals with how we might be generous with our finances and even our time. If you commit to giving a 10% tithe between charity and the church, then you are “forced” to plan to only spend 90% of your income. I’ve written before how many people struggle with issues like debt and living above one’s means. Giving generously to others can help you be more mindful of how you spend.
Also consider if you commit to volunteering your time. Too many times we let the days waste away, wondering where the time went, or running out of time to do things that truly matter. Our time can absolutely be eaten away sitting in front of a TV or staring at a phone screen. Committing to feed the hungry at a soup kitchen or mentor a struggling student will force you to plan your week wisely. Time is something we need to “budget,” too!
Generosity can free us from materialism
We frequently define ourselves by a bank account balance, the square footage of a home, or the kind of car or truck parked in our driveway. Materialism is the belief that physical belongings matter most, and this toxic viewpoint is everywhere in our culture. If you are generous in your life, I firmly believe that allows you to step away from materialistic tendencies and instead, embrace Godly living. Personally, I’ve noticed that extremely generous people tend to be less concerned about material things because they focus on God’s commandment to serve our neighbor.
Giving allows you to join in on what God is doing
If you regularly “invest” in your church through consistent tithing, I think you have a “front row seat” to witness what is going on with God’s kingdom! It is truly wonderful to see how God is already active in our world, whether that be supporting partner nonprofits, supplying food pantries, or leading transformational ministries at the local church. I personally do not think giving our resources should be a miserable experience. Instead, it is rather exciting to see what God does with a church offering, Advent collection, or goods drive!
Giving can witness to others
The book Passing the Plate notes a troubling statistic in American Christianity: The majority of churchgoers give either nothing or less than 1% of their income away. It goes without saying that we live in a very selfish world. Likewise, generosity is truly countercultural. Perhaps it might even be one of the best witnessing tools to address our selfish world.
When we give to others, that has such incredible potential to witness to God’s love. In Genesis 12, when God calls Abram, the culmination of the covenant is that all the families of the earth will be blessed because of Abram’s family. Hopefully we never lose sight of the truth we must share God’s goodness with others.
This week as you ready yourself for Thanksgiving, I hope you’ll take time to consider how to be more generous. Indeed God offers us many blessings when we open our hearts and lives to others. Hopefully as we thank God for the many blessings we have, we develop a passionate desire to share those blessings with the whole world!