I want to talk about passion. Don't worry; I'll keep it pretty safe. What is it that really excites you? What experiences have you had that you really enjoyed; children, grandchildren, pets, vacations? What do you see that gets you really upset? Beyond riding my motorcycle, I enjoy helping others. I get joy from giving. God has given me the ability and passion to do things for others, why in God's name would I not do that?
I believe there is a great deal of difference between happiness and joy. I am happy when I have my favorite meal or see a pretty sunset. Joy is that feeling of peace and contentment when my baseball team loses and I fall and hurt my shoulder but know that nothing can change my relationship with God. I have hope and joy regardless of how my day goes.
Our heart follows our treasures. We talk about the things that interest us the most. Show me your checkbook or visa bill and I’ll tell you what matters to you. I will tell you where your heart is. Suppose you buy some shares of General Motors stock. Don’t you suddenly develop an interest in what is happening at GM? You check the financial pages and read every word you can, even though a month ago you would not have done so. We have a lot of money managers out there and I like most of what I hear, but ultimately it seems to be a heart issue. Every time we spend our time and talents and treasures, we make a statement of what we value.
We all know people that have so much more than us. I don´t believe that God has blessed me so I can have a better lifestyle. God has not blessed me so I can find more ways to spend it or so I can indulge myself and spoil my children and grandchildren more, or feel more and more that I don't need God in my life. I am blessed so I can bless others.
Giving is about priorities. When we fail to consciously decide what we value and then align our spending habits accordingly, a thousand other things stand ready to define our values for us.
Many people give to the church and other ministries because they love what these organizations do and want the life-changing ministries to continue. They want to make a difference in their neighborhood, their community and the world for Christ.
People give when they understand and agree with the mission of the organization, see that the organization is really making a difference that the organization really needs the money, and the donor has high regard for the fiscal oversight of the organization.
Too often when God speaks to someone about a new way to meet needs, the wrong question is asked. People wonder if they can afford it. We should be asking, “Is this what God is calling us to do?” Not if only we had more, we’d be happy to be involved. Remember the apostle Paul and all that he suffered to share the good news of Jesus. The weaker he became, the more God filled him.
All that we have belongs to God. All the things that we have come to us through the skills, talents and opportunities God has loaned us. Yes, I said loaned. 100 years from now, will your name still be on the deed to your home or the title to your car? We care for and manage things that belong to God. In most cases, when someone manages something for someone else, the manager has a legitimate right to receive something for their management, but there is a limit to what we take from the owner.
If you send something to someone, you address it and give it to the mailman or FedEx person. What happens if they take it home and open it and decide to keep it and enjoy it. The package does not belong to them. They are just the middleman. Just because God puts something in our hands doesn't mean that it has to stay there.
People give when their goals and values and purposes align with those of a church, ministry or individual. I want to be a part of what God and others do in this world to relieve suffering, help people to trust God and move a little closer to God. My giving is motivated by love. God has loved me so much in so many ways I look for ways I can help his kids.
The people who listened to Jesus had a lot to worry about; the crushing military might of an occupying army, imminent poverty dogging their every step, injustice all around them, sickness and death as a daily occurrence. That's why Jesus´ sermon about worry was so tough to hear, and even more difficult to believe—until Jesus added a twist—worry is futile. It accomplishes nothing. Nothing that is, except making people more prone to worrying more. When it continues, fear-based anxiety becomes habit that seems to push away most other experiences in life.
Fear keeps people locked up with a scarcity mentality—the idea that the more of something that you give away, the less you will have for your needs. Where else in life do you gain more as you keep giving away? What assets do you never run short of? God will give you rewards far in excess of what you give. Fear has always been one of the principles of a growing faith. We need to see that nothing good can come from anxiety, and how it changes us into something that we may not like being around. Sometimes I am concerned that worry has invaded the way that part of our congregation works and thinks.
Living abundantly is not really a matter of having something to live on, but something to live for. Purpose, connection, love, service, friendship, family, generosity—these sustain contentment.
Contentment is learning to be satisfied with what you have, rather than feeling distracted by what we lack. Give what you have, don't feel bad because you can’t give what you don't have. How much you give is not the question, but what’s the proportion of the gift to your income? Giving in proportion to income suggests that giving should be a priority in our lives. The real joy in giving begins when we make giving a priority.
As we release our control of our money back to God, God will replace our financial stress with peace and abundant living as we come more and more to develop mutual support and knowing how to love and be loved. Contentment arises from seeking that which truly satisfies.
There are a lot of financial gurus out there and they seem to be saying the same thing. The first 10% should go to your church and other valid ministries. The second 10% should go toward paying off all your debts other than house or business and once this has been dealt with it goes into savings. We use this money to pay cash for cars and other major expenses. And the third 10% should go into long term savings. We aren't going to be able to work forever. Regardless of who you are, we can live off of 70% and give and save the rest.
If you aren't where you and God feel is a good place for you to be in giving to others, maybe you need to take a step of growing a percent per year, or even a dollar a week.
Why do I support my churches and other ministries? First, I believe that God has given me enough to do this so that programs of ministry and outreach can take place. I do it because I believe that I was created to help others.
It’s not about who has the most to the end of the game. It’s about who you love and who loves you. I pray that God would give us eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to care and hands to help God’s children everywhere that we go and that we might find true joy in giving.