What do your mindset and actions say about how much you trust God? Many of us profess faith in God, but what we do when our faith is tested is a veritable reflection of our convictions. One area which glaringly demonstrates how much we trust God is our giving. Many of us can count the altruistically generous people we know on one hand because giving has more to do with our mindset than how much we have. Yes, we need to blend wisdom with generosity, but often, we use shrewdness as a facade for stinginess and greed. If we are honest, many of us will admit that despite our claims to trust God, we possess a scarcity mentality which eventually manifests in our struggles with giving. Today, as we face a global economic crisis, we have an excellent opportunity to deal with the root problem and put God to the test [2 Corinthians 9:6-11].
Many often find generosity easy until it becomes inconvenient. I have found the price of giving to be a significant differentiator between those who give from the flesh and those who do so with spiritual understanding. Even at a national level, citizens of wealthy countries are generally happy for their governments to provide aid to poorer countries until it requires an increase in taxes or fiscal cuts. I believe one of the reasons for that mindset is the fallacy that we should only give when we have more than enough – an ideology which is the way of the world but is contrary to the Scriptures [Proverbs 11:24]. Until that paradigm changes, we’ll struggle to obey Jesus and enjoy the benefits allocated to a generous spirit [Philippians 4:19].
One way the devil robs us is by polluting our minds with a scarcity mentality until we become tight-fisted because, in that posture, we cannot receive. So, throughout Scripture, God’s people are instructed to keep their palms open by giving so that He can continually bless them with more [Luke 6:38]. Generosity isn’t our idea. As you peruse the Bible, it becomes increasingly clear that God is a giver; He provides us richly all things to enjoy [1 Timothy 6:17]. He understands what it means to give out of love, even when it hurts [John 3:16], and the implications of giving to your enemies [Matthew 5:45, Romans 5:6-8]. Essentially, we cannot claim to be His children and refuse to be generous. Living that out requires grace because it’s anathema to how the rest of the world behaves.
I’m learning that to be a faithful, cheerful giver requires discernment. The first step to becoming God-like in our giving is to understand that generosity is a principle. God gave His Son because He knew that in doing so, He would reap a harvest of many sons [Romans 8:29]. The same idea was evident when Abraham gave up Isaac because he trusted God and received descendants as numerous as the stars in the skies in return [Genesis 22:16-17]. A similar principle operates in the law of sowing and reaping [Galatians 6:7]. But in God’s economy, the harvest is always multiples of what is sown. Once the generosity principle is understood, we must wrestle with it until our understanding goes beyond mental assent to a conviction that dictates our action through mental transformation [Romans 12:2]. This second step is predicated on how much we trust God and believe His promises, not our circumstances.
There’s a curious story in the Gospels of Jesus watching people give money to the Temple treasury [Mark 12:41-44]. At some point, He pointed out a poor old widow who dropped a penny in the offering box to His disciples. They were others who had given far more, but Jesus noted that the lady was the most generous because she gave all she had. So, giving is more about quality than quantity. As Cain’s story teaches us, God cares more about the heart behind our giving than the size of the gift [Genesis 4]. Such a heart originates from realising that what we have actually belongs to God – we’re stewards, not owners [Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10], and we have because God gave [John 3:27, 2 Peter 1:3]. Just as important is recognising that we cannot out-give God. His justice system will not permit it. So, though it isn’t stated explicitly in the Gospel, I believe that the widow in the Temple, just like the widow of Zarephath, received in return full measure, press down, shaken and flowing over [1 Kings 17:8-16, Luke 6:38].
The world stops giving when it becomes inconvenient, but God calls believers to give cheerfully and faithfully with understanding and wisdom at every opportunity [Luke 6:30]. We’re to be conduits, channelling heaven’s abundance to others in the knowledge that God’s got our backs [Psalm 37:25], and He’ll more than replenish our resources [Ephesians 3:20, 1 Corinthians 2:9]. Besides, we don’t always know the recipients of our gift and what doors our generosity might open [Genesis 14:18-20, Genesis 18:1-15]. If, like me, you struggle with giving selflessly, especially when you seemingly don’t have enough, it indicates that your relationship with God needs to go deeper because you either don’t know Him well enough or doubt His promises. That’s not easy to accept, but remember that God doesn’t condemn us [Romans 8:1]. However, we cannot violate His principles and excel righteously.
My charge this week is a call to examine through the quality of our generosity how much we trust God and believe His promises. If we find our ideas on giving warped by ignorance, fear or even human shrewdness, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to transform our minds through God’s word [Psalm 51:10]. Then, slowly, our perspective will shift from the scarcity mentality of the world to the abundance reality of God’s kingdom.