By: Ben Allsop
I’m convinced that generosity is a clear distinctive of a healthy Christian life, and in the time I’ve been working in fundraising I’ve come to see six really good reasons why giving is so important to a healthy faith. Especially when times are difficult.
1) Giving is a Vaccination Against Greed
I love technology and we live in a world where technology has become an idol to so many. Until a few years ago, I would find myself looking through catalogues or wandering through an electronics store and trying to justify a new phone, a new tablet or a coffee machine.
Then I realised something.
There will always be something more. Something else. Something newer or shinier.
I’m utterly convinced that one of the best ways to vaccinate ourselves against greed is to give.
Giving as a regular practice can help us course-correct the selfish tendencies in our daily habits. When Paul calls us to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1–2) he’s calling us to be a model of God’s goodness in the world. In a world that desires money, power, possessions and attention, our reaction is to be in distinct opposition. Our reaction is to seek humility (Micah 6:8), to be servant-hearted (Mark 10:43) and to be generous (Corinthians 9:6). A regular commitment to giving helps us to practice these values with our money and to challenge the temptation to keep it to ourselves.
2) Giving Activates the Depths of Our Faith
There are moments in our lives where the deepest injustices of this world get lodged in our skin like splinter. Maybe its global poverty. Maybe it’s human trafficking. Maybe it’s homelessness. Maybe it’s domestic violence. There are injustices and evil in this world that makes our soul burn with righteous anger.
Equally, there are moments where our hearts beat a little faster, our mind races and our imagination lights up. For me, these moments happen when I consider the potential of a new idea. The opportunity for a woman facing poverty to earn enough money to send her children to school fills me with hope. The potential that exists when a water point in a community means hundreds of hours a year can be allocated to education and productive purposes instead of carrying water to the home is really exciting to me.
I’m convinced that in each of these moments, God’s spirit is at work — convicting us of the passions that He’s placed within us. Convictions that demand a response.
I‘m absolutely convinced that giving in response to these passions is a hugely significant part of the Christian walk.
3) Giving Invests in God’s Kingdom
If the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13–21) reminds us of anything it is that our wealth means very little in eternity. Our earthly resources are a provision for our needs, but beyond that we need to think really carefully about what we’re using our money for. Although it’s tempting to look at real estate brochures and ‘dream’ about life in one of these homes, I continually have to remind myself that there is nothing in these brochures that will come close to matching what God has in store for those who love Him (1 Cor 2:9).
Perhaps more significantly when we read Luke 12:21 the warning is really clear:
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
I don’t want God to call me foolish. Or a fool. I don’t want to make decisions that benefit me in the short term, only to be proven foolish in eternity.
I am incredibly wealthy by global standards. Recognising how much I have access to convicts me to find more and more ways to release my money and my time to invest in a heavenly kingdom. ‘
4) Giving Declares Our Trust in God
I suspect that one of the reasons we can find it difficult to give is because of our past experiences. There are many people who don’t experience the comforts that I enjoy in suburban Australia.
Remarkably, I’ve met some incredibly generous people in my life, many of whom have very little to give by western standards. In these communities, people have little chance but to trust God. They don’t have a superannuation fund. They don’t have a savings account. They don’t have an education and regular income. They have a moment — often just a moment in the day — to gather what they need and to trust God for the rest. When these people give it’s an act of obedience and faith in God.
It’s also an example we see in scripture.
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.” — Mark 12:41–44
The widow gave all she had. Her faith in God was so great — her relationship with God so deep — that everything she had, she offered in obedience. She recognised that God’s use of that gift would be far greater than her own.
I honestly struggle to understand how to apply that in a modern day. One thing is for sure. Giving like that requires enormous faith. Faith which is especially challenging to many of us who live in the wealthier parts of the world.
To have faith in God requires us to give Him room to move in our lives. If we continually plan and purchase without thinking — without leaving Him the space to work in our lives — then we will not see Him work in those areas. Our finances can so often be like this. If we meticulously plan, or if we carelessly spend, we rarely see God at work. But if we take steps of faith and generosity — small or large — it’s those times where we see God move most powerfully.
5) Giving Brings Joy
Working in the fundraising sector, I’ve met some of the most generous people I’ve ever come across. Without exception, their giving — knowing that they are meeting the needs of others — brings them joy. Giving for them is part of pursuing God’s Kingdom and God’s plan in their lives and they enjoy it.
It has taken me a long time to understand just how joyful giving can be. How satisfying and uplifting it is to feel a part of the work that God can do when we give to others what he’s given to us. It might be something simple — a cup of coffee or a meal for a local family. It could be something more substantial — like an annual donation planned in advance.
It’s often the more sacrificial that the labour is, the more satisfying the giving is. Whether it be my own joy, or the joyful experience of others, we should not underestimate the power of giving to bring joy into our lives and the lives of others.
6) Giving is Measurable
So many areas of our faith are difficult to assess. Am I trusting God more this year? Is my prayer life healthier this year? Is my worship more heartfelt?
I’m convinced that giving is essential to a healthy faith is because it’s measurable. We can see it growing or dwindling. We can invest in it, or we can neglect it. We can succumb to temptation, or we can give obediently and sacrificially. And as we measure those dollars, or the proportion of our income, or proportion of our assets, there’s the ability to continue to challenge ourselves to be more faithful.
Article supplied with thanks to Ben Allsop.
About the Author: Ben Allsop lives and works in Melbourne, Australia, and is passionate about helping people find the connections between faith, finance and philanthropy.