This past Sunday, our pastor at Oasis Church gave a truly powerful message on the importance of generosity, and how giving leads to a better life. The idea of being a giver and being more selfless has been something God has placed on my heart more and more, and probably always will. I used to be afraid to give too much, especially financially, because as a young, 20-something, starving artist in LA, just taking care of myself can be quite a daunting task at times.
When I really decided to give my life to Christ, finances were probably the most difficult thing for me to trust God with. This lack of faith kept me in jobs that I hated, left me just barely scraping by, made me selfish, and made me a bit of a money hoarder. Now-while it is extremely wise to save, we shouldn’t be saving because we don’t trust God to take care of us. Even further, we shouldn’t be saving and hoarding money away when we could be helping and blessing others with what God has given us. That was an extremely difficult thing for me to let go of and open up to.
Our pastor explained to us that becoming a genuine follower of Jesus will require giving in many areas…
Being generous with:
It all really comes back around to gratitude. Ungrateful people tend to be quite disappointed with life. Haven’t you watched our culture as we are constantly seeking the next best thing? Our pastor laughed as he talked about how you can have an amazing home, and still, there is a magazine called “Better Homes” that will beautifully display to you what you still need and what you still don’t have.
What really became a wake-up call for me was to realize that if my goal was to be more Christ-like each day, I couldn’t do that without being a cheerful and grateful giver. Why? Because God Himself is a giver. John 3:16 tells us God loved us so much that He gave.
It wasn’t easy for me to open up my heart and be willing to give financially. I was living in so much fear and so much doubt. I didn’t even really know that I was trying to bargain with God, but my philosophy was that once God provided me with more, than I would bless others. However, I learned the hard way that God doesn’t use the same logic or the same mathematical equations that our world lives by. He doesn’t expect us to give what we don’t have, but we are all able to bless others with what we do.
Finally, my stubborn heart gave up. I decided to try doing things God’s way. I made a commitment a long time ago to always tithe even when I’m afraid, even when money is tight, even when I’m doubtful. Then, last week I felt God so strongly put on my heart that I should sponsor a child and use some of my income each month to help bless and take care of a little girl (Carola who lives in Bolivia), and provide her with food, water, and education. The more I felt God put this desire on my heart, I felt like God had a pretty wild sense of humor. You see, there are weeks that money is so tight that I couldn’t buy groceries for myself! I didn’t understand why God thought I was capable of caring for another human being. However, I decided to be faithful and felt so called to loving this girl, and I made the commitment to sponsor her.
Since I have fully put my faith in God regarding finances by quitting the job that wasn’t His call for my life, giving regularly, helping others, and sponsoring Carola, I have been getting so much more work and God has blessed me abundantly. While I was amazed by this and completely grateful, I didn’t understand it. Why would God take such good care of me? Then, it all made sense when our pastor said:
“God doesn’t promise to make anyone rich on earth. But He will provide what you need. If God knows that you are using your life and finances to bless others and build His kingdom, He will provide you with more than enough to continue doing that.”
God saw me finally answering His call to build His kingdom, and He doesn’t want me to stop doing that. He is a wonderful provider and He blesses us as we are a blessing. That being said, it’s a cycle. It’s easy to get extra income and fall back into old habits by hoarding more than we need, but Ephesians 4:28 explains so well how and why we should work in the first place:
“But all must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
We don’t work just to make money. We don’t make money just to hoard it. We are here to work not only to provide for our own needs, but to share our blessing with those who need it as well. The lyrics to “The Desert Song” that I love that truly say it best…and I will leave you with this thought to meditate on:
“This is my prayer in the harvest,
When favor and providence flow.
I know I’m filled to be emptied again,
The seed I’ve received I will sow.”