Monday, March 26, 2018

The Heart of Giving Series - A Change is in Order

(Image credit: Steven Depolo, flickr creative commons)
We can't take it with us, yet many hoard it as if we can. We can't out give God so it seems many don't make the effort. Somewhere between these two extremes, we wrestle with our attitude to giving our money.

When I started this series, I thought about my church experience over my lifetime. There's usually an unplanned need that precipitates a giving challenge or there's a noticeable lack in giving regardless of the income levels of the congregation. So I wanted to ensure that I had the right heart attitude around giving based on what the Bible says. I wanted to discover why Christians seemed to be entrenched in the financial principles of the world vs. the giving principles in the Bible (there are at least 250 verses if
not more on money and possessions in the Bible). I wanted to understand why many seem afraid to give. I was not hung up on Old Testament vs. New Testament as a determining factor in my heart toward giving as I believe the entire Bible is for my edification.

Since the inception of this series, I've  discovered through research and conviction:
  • Regardless of income level most don't give 10% of their income to their local church. 
  • There are cultural differences in terms of giving. We are heavily influenced by the dominant culture which is a combination of "prepare for a rainy day" while getting everything you're entitled to.
  • Science supports the benefits of giving.
  • For rich and poor alike - a generous heart is a blessing.
  • The ability to give and give well can be an indicator of our faith not just our affluence.
Yet with all of our giving, we still have so many whose needs are unmet that it may seem that we are not making a dent.

When it comes to our money our money mindset determines our approach. There are three types of mindsets according to the book God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer.

A Spender: Pursues the greatest possible present consumption, even if mindful of the need to save.
A Saver: Someone who strives to limit consumption to some extent, focusing instead on increased wealth accumulation.
A Servant: Orients their life around limiting both consumption and wealth building, focusing instead on giving the most money they can to blessing others with no significant personal loss.
Spenders maximize value today, savers maximize value in the future, and servants maximize value in eternity.

We're all familiar with the first two but the third one may be a surprise. While I wasn't aware of the term servant as it relates to money, it was actually the impetus and goal for me since doing this study. Reading that brought clarity to me because servants view their money as a potential blessing to the world in Christ's name desiring to make the most of its potential for positive impact. With this mindset, giving takes priority over saving or spending.

Giving results in an eternal benefit whereas saving poses a risk to our soul. We can easily become like the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 12:15-21) - who thought he had so much but "this night his soul was required of him." He epitomized the saver by laying up treasure for himself and was not rich towards God. In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23) seeds are planted on four types of soil by God the Ultimate Sower. Many of us would be like the seed that falls on the thorny soil - where we are entangled with the cares of this world: wealth, anxiety and lust which keep us from knowing God's Word.

It is only the seed that falls on good soil that produces fruit - "Still, other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." God gives, I give more and produce more. That's what I want for me; for Christians. I want to be fruitful ground with everything He has given me. Can you imagine what this world would be like if we were all producing 30 times more with our income? It wouldn't gratuitous but we would have hearts of gratitude while being generous and grateful. Generosity begets generosity. As Christians, we would be more impactful.
That's radical. But all of Christianity is radical - we should look and act differently empowered by God's love and sovereignty.

Once the heart changes usually there are actionable steps that follow. Here are some suggestions so that you are a better sower of what is given to you:
  • Give your age as a percentage of your income annually (
  • Change your thinking from "how much do I have to give?" to "how much do I need to keep?" The answer to this question may surprise you. When we embrace that everything truly belongs to God it liberates us.
  • Live within or below your means joyful and intentionally accounting for all of your basic needs then strive to give away the rest.
  • Give in line with your personal mission - it may take you awhile to find your personal mission but it usually comes from some unidentified need in your own life or something that moves you because you see the unmet human need. Keep praying and reading, but when you identify it, don't be afraid to act.
  • Give to your local church; make their causes your causes.
  • Don't give to receive glory from man - remember Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 4:35-37; Acts 5:1-11). 
  • Give in community. Perhaps create the equivalent of your own Personal Board of Directors for which can help you make wise financial decisions while providing deeper spiritual accountability. As you find like-minded givers in your world, let iron sharpen iron.
  • Don't just write a check to an organization. If you can, follow up to ensure that the deeper eternal need is met. 
  • Start a Giving Ministry at your local church for those that have the gift of giving (Romans 12:4-8) or for those who wish to be better givers.
  • Bless newlyweds with seed money for a down payment on a house.
  • Become the godmother for unwed single mothers - provide necessary items but also be willing to be a part of their lives.
  • Work with children whose parents are incarcerated - send gifts at Christmas or special times.
  • Use your money to affect systemic change.
  • Remove the money taboo. Talk about giving and generosity as frequently as you talk about purity or fornication.

Jesus was not wealthy by our standards, yet he was generous with everything He had right down to his life. We don't need a lot to be generous - here in America, the poorest of us have more than most of the world's population. The poor will always be with us. Those living on the margins of our society will have greater need. The 'least of these' benefit from our generosity. We have an obligation to help others: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). By ministering to the 'least of these', we are touching the heart of Jesus (Matthew 25:34-40).

Remember we can't take with us and it all belongs to him; we are simply stewards of what He has given us the capacity to receive. If we sincerely believe this, then our mindset around what is ours begins to be transformed (Romans 12: 1,2). You'll begin to see, that regardless of your income level the more generous you are the more blessings come your way. We cannot sow seeds with clenched fists; we must open our hands. So when you clench your fist no one can put anything in your hand.

Heart changes aren't formulaic. Love is not formulaic. We are still to exercise wisdom with what is entrusted to us without forgetting God's sovereignty. Some will be blessed with great sums and others will not even with a generous heart, but they will be blessed. As Christians, we are God's representatives and we can do great good with our possessions that can spread to the ends of the earth. As we gain in our understanding of God's word may we be emboldened to give boldly, give generously and give faithfully.  As we are informed and transformed by God's Word may His love be the force that guides us to be generous givers. Let's live out our faith by giving out our faith. Let's make the necessary change.

Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can - that's the servant mindset as shared by John Wesley.

Additional Resources:
God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer.
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Plan for the World by Timothy Keller
The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose by Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson
250 Verses on Money

Read the rest of the series:


Thanks for reading. Please take a moment to share using the buttons below and also please like my Facebook Page. Don't forget to subscribe. Stay Encouraged!


  1. Wow! This is a big one ... "how much do I have to give?" to "how much do I need to keep?" Excellent post!

  2. You brought it right to a head. Good post.


I love reading your comments; but please be kind. Unkind comments will be removed.