On July 3, 1977 the first MRI exam was performed. This was a revolutionary moment as it provided doctors with one of the first non invasive methods for examining internal body structures and diagnosing diseases. This was a tremendous advancement, because it gave doctors the ability to see the interior of the body and provide medical care based upon their discoveries.
Similarly, in Luke 12:34 Jesus gives us an “MRI” exam. He gives us something that we can use to see what’s happening in our hearts. His goal in doing this is not to bring us harm, but to lead us to greater wellness.
where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”(Luk 12:34 ESV)
What Jesus is saying here is profound. He is telling us that there is a direct correlation between what’s going on in our hearts and what’s happening with our finances. Wait! Don’t click off this post. I know that talking about giving can immediately cause us to feel things like “I already know I’m supposed to give, but I’ve got this other stuff going on and thinking about giving stresses me out” or “I don’t want to feel guilty, so I’m going to stop reading.” We can feel all kinds of things when the subject of giving is brought up. But isn’t that Jesus’ exact point? What we feel about the subject of giving is a diagnostic tool to see what it is that we are truly loving. There was a church consultant who was famous for asking church leaders to tell him their church’s mission. Routinely, they would proudly answer with their carefully crafted mission statement. He would then respond by asking to see their budget, so that he could tell them what their mission really was. How we use our money shows what we truly value. And so Jesus talked about money a lot, not because He needs our cash, but because He does want our hearts.
Ultimately giving is about the gospel
We don’t give to get from God, but in response to what God has given us. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2Co 8:9 ESV) Jesus came and impoverished himself by taking on our sins on the cross, so that through faith in Him we could experience the riches of salvation. We can never out give God. He gave everything for us. But in response to the lavish generosity of the Gospel, we can worship God, by giving generously in response to the Gospel and for the furtherance of God’s mission.
Practical Tips to Grow in Generous Giving
- Develop a conviction about generous giving. God wants us to give from our hearts. God loves a cheerful giver. (2Co 9:6-7 ESV). Read through scriptures like 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Malachi 3:10, Proverbs 11: 24-25, Proverbs 21:26, 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Meditate on them. Pray through them. Let God’s word define how you think about finances.
- Spend your whole paycheck, but not by buying stuff! Budget where each dollar goes by taking your paycheck and allocating it to various categories where you are going to spend it that month (rent/mortgage, utilities, food,etc…) Start by “spending” first on giving to the Lord. We miss Jesus’ point if we budget for everything else and then try to fit Him in at the end. Commit in your heart what you are going to give to God and then let the rest of finances be determined after that. If you need help with budgeting, Mint.com offers a great app. Also, any of us pastors would be happy to help you set up a budget . Talking about money can be awkward, but it is part of discipleship. So if you need some help, please reach out. If we don’t give our dollars a purpose, then we can’t be purposefully generous. So make a budget.
- While there are all kinds of wonderful ministries to give to that honor the Lord, Biblically there are three categories of giving shown: the local church, the poor and world missions. The local church is God’s ordained means of reaching the world as the very body of Christ. Therefore, the church should be the first place we are investing our finances that God has entrusted to us. The poor represent vulnerability and God has a special place in His heart for vulnerable people. Now it is very easy to give to the poor in a way that hurts more than it helps. Giving needs to be done with a holistic approach of trying to help the person better their situation. Uninformed giving can unintentionally enable ongoing poverty. This is why we encourage giving to the poor through donating specifically to our benevolence fund as a church. This allows us as pastors to use these funds to care for material needs of the poor in our church and neighborhood, while also caring for them holistically as a person. Or if you want to give to the poor in other areas and/or countries, think about how you can do that through partnering with local churches in that area. This is why we love Covenant Mercies, because they accomplish their mission of caring for orphans in the developing world through partnering with indigenous churches. Finally, world missions is also a category that should be present in our giving as we seek to bring the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and race.
remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (Act 20:35 ESV)
May you experience more of God’s spiritual blessings this year and you trust in his promise that it is more blessed to give than to receive.