My husband and I have generous hearts, but in reality, our actual giving is not so great. Do you have a plan to help people be more generous?
Generous But Average Giving
Dear Generous But Average Giving,
Your honesty is very refreshing! I think most believers would likely say the same. They have a willing heart but are not very good at increasing their generosity from year to year.
For 21 years of our marriage, Ann and I were average givers. At that time, Christians were giving about 2.6% of their gross annual income charitably. So were we. That includes all donations: church, school, hospital, or favorite charities. I was very content about this — but not Ann. Like you, she wanted to do more. Following our graduation from the Crown Small Group Study, she put her foot down and asked me to start giving a minimum of 10% of our gross annual income to God’s causes.
I remember asking her, “What decade would you like to begin?” I thought it would take at least 10 years to adjust our budget to such a dramatic change.
She replied, “I want to start now.”
I replied, “We would have to change everything regarding our lifestyle to be able to afford that.”
She looked at me with resolve and said, “Exactly!”
Meditate on God’s Word together
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come, no collections will have to be made.” (1 Corinthians 16:12 NIV)
We can take several lessons from this passage:
- Giving should be regular. Paul gave a plan to be ready to give “on the first day of every week.” This is not “spontaneous or emotionally-driven giving.” It is being very intentional.
- Giving should be personal. Paul said, “Each one of you should ...” It is the responsibility and privilege of every child of God, whether young or old, rich or poor, to give. God wants all of us to enjoy the blessings of generosity. Billy Graham said, “God has given us two hands, one to receive and the other to give.”
- Giving should be out of a private deposit. Paul said to “set aside a sum of money.” This means you are saving for this purpose. Too often, we set aside money for emergencies, retirement, or investment but do not have funds that are for giving only.
Make giving your priority
Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.”
This verse challenges me to ask myself, “Who am I honoring first with my income?” or “What is my first priority with the money that I earn?” Giving is a way of acknowledging that everything we have belongs to God, and we trust Him by giving away the first of our provisions, not the last.
We are not to tip God from our leftovers but to honor Him as first and foremost in our lives.
A simple plan for becoming more generous
If you and your husband will practice this very simple habit anytime you receive income, you will become far more generous in the years to come: give first, save second.No matter how or when you receive any form of income, the first portion goes towards giving. After that, you save a portion. What remains can be spent or invested, but this will establish the right order for managing money as God’s faithful stewards. Giving first honors Him and saving second prepares you for the future. They go hand in hand and in that order.
When we began to put this into practice, our hearts changed from focusing on the temporal kingdom of Earth to investing in the eternal Kingdom of God. We experienced more joy, more freedom, and more excitement from the promises of treasures in Heaven.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.