Hold it Loosely, Give it Generously
by Mike and Elizabeth Murphy
Very few topics make people more uncomfortable than money. If you want to make people squirm, talk about giving. People will ask all sorts of questions about how much to give, what to give to, and whether to give off of the gross or the net, just to steer away from the heart of the matter – why give at all?
When we, as ministry leaders, pour ourselves out in every other way, why can’t we hang on to the little money we have? Giving is not a financial decision, it’s a spiritual decision. Few things will hold us back in our spiritual growth more than holding on too tightly to worldly wealth.
Growing up, giving was something we were supposed to do. Our parents smiled while we put a portion of our allowance in the offering plate each week. As teenagers with jobs, we both stopped giving. The world had become all about pleasing ourselves. After college, life seemed so expensive so giving money made no sense. Our perspective only got worse with marriage, a mortgage, and children. We thought our earned money was ours to do with as we pleased. We couldn’t have been more wrong. It wasn’t until we participated in a Bible Study called Crown Ministries, that we learned it was God’s money to begin with, and that giving was an act of worship. Our giving finally became about pleasing God.
Financial Decision or Spiritual Decision?
The world tells us to take care of ourselves, our family, and our future first, and IF there is any left, give it away. We were looking at things from the wrong perspective. We needed to begin with truth, that giving is a spiritual decision based on the fact that God is the owner of it all and we are His managers. God reoriented us to His perspective, and we have continued to give even when it’s very hard.
Time versus Money
It’s so easy to ask God to let our time be our offering. If time were a biblical substitute for money, a family in ministry would be among the biggest givers. However, God instructs all of His people to be faithful stewards with worldly wealth. The idea of substituting time for money is so common and yet so wrong. Money is addressed in Scripture more often than any other subject; the practical God we serve knew it would be a struggle. Financial giving is the first step toward loosening the grip of materialism in our lives.
Give Off the Top
If you are waiting for just the right time to give, don’t. We would like everything to add up on paper, but somehow it never does. This is especially hard for Mike, who likes to cross his T’s and dot his I’s, when it comes to the budget and the bills. Even when we can’t, God stretches what we have to meet our needs - after we’ve given to Him first.
The example we see in Scripture is they gave first to the Lord. When someone gives to God “off of the top,” before any other bill is paid, somehow things work out. This can be a huge step of faith. We encourage you to take it.
Grow in Your Giving
We check ourselves to see if we are growing in our devotional life, our prayer life, etc. When was the last time you checked to see if you were growing in your giving? Only you and the Lord know how much you should give. If you find yourself in a difficult situation, caused by poor judgment or circumstances out of your control, don’t let that stop you from giving; start with something, regardless of the amount. God will bless whatever the amount is and you will be blessed for your obedience.
We have wonderful godly people in our lives whose expenses began to decrease although their income didn’t. They kept what they needed and gave ALL the rest away. That’s a spiritual goal to which we aspire. Don’t miss out on the joy of giving to the Lord. Remember, it is a spiritual decision.
Money is simply worldly wealth. Hold it loosely, give it generously, and worship God fully – starting small and starting soon.
For a biblical approach to giving see www.generousgiving.org