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Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Musings - Generous Giving

You know how sometimes a certain subject just keeps coming up over and over again - from a variety of sources and under different circumstances - and you start to think, maybe I should pay attention to this?  God has been speaking to me about generosity and giving a lot lately.  It has come up in conversation, in my Bible study on James and in my daily reading which has me going through 2nd Corinthians right now.  A friend recently messaged me and asked me if I would be willing to share with her my thoughts on money and how we handle it in a way pleasing to the Lord.

Well - I approach this subject with a lot of humility and with some fear (the good kind) and trepidation.  I am by no means an authority on this subject.  I have lived long enough to have learned a thing or two and I have some really great examples in my life of stewardship - namely my parents.  I have also observed a good many other people in my life that I have learned a great deal from.  I have also made mistakes and I am still learning what this looks like in my own life. 

With that being said, how do we determine how to use our money - what to keep, what to give, what to save and how to use it?  I think whether you have a lot of money or only a little - these questions still apply.  I will also say that no matter how much money you have (whether you perceive it to be a lot or a little) there is always someone else who has more and someone else who has less.  

As I read through scripture and live out life, 
I have come to realize that how we handle our money
 is much more a matter of the heart 
than it is a matter of the almighty dollar.

2nd Corinthians 8:12 talks about the "readiness" to give.  It wasn't so much about the amount or about an exact need - it was their readiness to give that Paul complimented.  

Are you ready to give whatever the Lord asks of you?

The Lord isn't asking you to give what you do not have, He asks you to give out of what you do have.  The value of the gift is not its monetary value, but in the heart of the giver.  Selfishness and stinginess can be true of someone who has little or someone who has a lot. 

2nd Corinthians 9 also has quite a lot to say about our money and our willingness to give generously.

Sow sparingly ---- Reap sparingly   This is not a statement by a stock market analyst - but perhaps the same principal applies.  When we hold back on God and on our generosity to others (and this includes a whole lot more than money) we miss out.  There is tremendous blessing in giving.

God LOVES a cheerful giver -- Do you wince when you give?  I hope not.  There is such joy in giving.  There is such privilege in hearing about a need, feeling that nudge from the Lord to meet it and taking that step.  It isn't a pride thing and if your giving is showy, it truly detracts - but it is a soulfully joyous thing.

Look at the amazing news of verse 8:

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

When you read on to the end of the chapter, you can not help but get really excited.   

God gets the glory.

He is the ultimate Giver.  

James tell us that "Every good thing and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of Lights in whom there is no variation of shifting shadow."

He is the Gift.

So, when I am looking at my finances and my giving, I have to take it before the Lord, first and foremost.  I have to listen to His voice and follow what He tells me.  I have to be willing to obey.  James 4:17 says, "To the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin."

So, here is a HUGE problem when it comes to this subject.  Our tendency to judge others.  Does judging others make us feel more comfortable?  

There are several books out right now that deal with this subject and they are very good.  BUT each one must apply these principles to their own life. You can not apply those principles to someone else's life.  Scripture speaks to our tendency to judge one another just about as much as it speaks about our money.  We have to be very careful.  You can find yourself in a mess of pride before you know it.  We can actually be prideful because we have so little or because we have so much.  Remember - God is the Provider.  What you have is all from Him.  He is your Security - not your money. 

I've got to tell you, spirituality is not tied to your bank account or lack there of.  It is tied straight to your relationship with Jesus and your willingness to be obedient in whatever direction He is calling you.

I will also say that we have to watch ourselves - that we do not overindulge - that we are not all about ourselves and not about anyone else.  Keep a watchful eye on your heart and be accountable to someone else.  We are called to be good stewards of all that the Lord has given us.  You need godly wisdom to do this well.

Give all you can.

Don't compare or judge.

Hold onto what you have loosely - 
with the readiness to give it away.

Use everything the Lord has given you - 
big or small - for His glory.

This is not in any way an exhaustive writing on this subject, but it is just a few of the thoughts that have been running through my mind as of late.  Truly, let the Holy Spirit be your guide.  My prayer is that this will be helpful and encouraging to you and perhaps allow to you pause, think and evaluate where you are in this area of your life.  I'm still learning and I am grateful for my Jesus Who gives me a lot of grace along the way.


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