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2009-04-23

Whose Money Is It Anyway?--Developing a Generous Heart

Whose Money Is It Anyway?
Image by dbking

Our family is on a journey. A journey to financial freedom, baby! (A la Dave Ramsey.)
  • We've completed baby steps one through three.
  • We eat beans and rice and rice and beans most of the time.
  • We drive a clunker.
  • We've learned to tighten our belts--sometimes it feels like the belts can't get any tighter!
  • We've looked for ways to bring in a little extra since we really can't pare down much further.
All in all, it's been, well, fun! The journey isn't without its challenges, but it can also be invigorating.

There is something along the way (and even before we started this) that I've found difficult. I am not by nature a generous person. My husband on the other hand? He's generosity itself.

We do give. We tithe to our church. We sponsor a little boy in Peru. We also give periodically to other organizations we believe in.

But. The truth is that, for me, this kind of giving feels easy. It feels easy because it's in the budget. It's a line item. An obligation. (*Gasp* That sounds so bad!)

It's the spontaneous giving my husband wants to do that is so hard for me. When someone has a need that arises and Keith is aware of it, he is always willing to give sacrificially. I'm not. And that's just the plain, sad truth. I don't want to be that way. But it is indeed very, very hard for me. I don't want to deviate from our budget. Or mess up our baby steps.

But here's the thing I'm trying to understand more clearly: Everything I have doesn't really belong to me. It belongs to God. I'm just the person He has asked to handle His money.

Whew. When I look at it from the proper perspective, it really does change things. I want to hold everything He has entrusted to with an open hand. I really want to be like the Macedonians Paul writes about in II Corinthians 8-9.
"Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints." (8:2-4)
Later on Paul says this:
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (9:6-8)
My frugal tip for today is: Be a generous giver--it's not yours anyway! It might seem like a paradox, but the truth is that God's economy doesn't work like the world's economy. May He continue to work in my heart in this regard!

For more money saving tips, please visit Frugal Friday at LifeasMOM!

Does giving come naturally to you? Can you share how you have learned to be more generous?

6 comments:

5intow said...

Great thoughts! I recently read the passage where David insists on buying the ground for the temple rather than allowing someone to donate because, "I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing."

That made me catch my breath.

I also ran into this site that got me thinking:
http://www.generousgiving.org/

A while back I posted some other thoughts if you are interested:
http://delightinginhisrichness.blogspot.com/2008/04/frugal-friday-why-live-frugally.html

I think you have the right basis, holding everything with an open palm, knowing it belongs to God. The rest comes as the Holy Spirit keeps working that deeper into your core and tinting your sunglasses with it.

I haven't thought about this in a while, but I think it's time again.

Thanks,
Erin

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

My hubby would say I am the complete opposite---I am always giving!

Start simple...take someone a meal if they have a lot on their plate or are sick, visit someone lonely or shut-in, drop off some dog and cat food at the shelter, etc......

:)

I find that by using coupons with sales and signing up for freebies I can give a lot more, even when it isn't in the budget!

Bev said...

What an honest post! Thank you for reminding us!

Kirsty said...

Great post. And you know, I have found that I have never been worse off when I give even when on paper I really can't. It's quite remarkable over the years I have been compensated 10 fold for any "sacrifices" I have made. Giving is a great investment ;)

Raising Olives said...

My husband and I are also on this giving journey. I could have written this post. According to the IRS our giving is way above and beyond what it "should" be for our income. However, I do not feel that I am a generous person.

I have posted a little about our journey and have some more posts brewing in my mind. This is an area where God is currently teaching and stretching us. I'm so thankful that He loves us enough to point out our weaknesses and push us to grow to be more like Him.

Blessings,
Kimberly

RG said...

This was a neat post. I tend to be a more generous person when it comes to meeting others' needs. I am miserly as concerns other areas of finance though! I haven't really considered this for a long time, but now that it has been brought out, I think my giving attitude goes back to when I was 9 years old and my sunday school class was going to have its picture taken on Easter. Our teacher encouraged everyone to dress their best. There was one girl who got a ride to church every Sunday from one of the other families who had a kid in her class, because her parents weren't interested in church. My Dad and I usually picked her up because her house was way out of the way, and it was too inconvenient for others to take the time since Sunday mornings tend to be hectic. It wasn't a bother to him. Anyway, as we drove home I was mopey, knowing I wouldn't have a brand new Easter dress like all the others. When Jodi climbed into our car she got busy retelling all the stories and singing all the songs to my Dad. I started thinking how I had never seen her wear a dress. I thought about how I saw her wearing basically the same grubby hand me downs every week,(I always wore hand me downs too, it isn't a slam, mine were just cleaner) and as I glanced at her, I noticed holes and stains in her clothes, and that they didn't match. I just had never noticed before because she was such a bubbly talkative personality, always with a story or joke or bright question. After we dropped her off I asked my Dad why she always wore the same old stuff, he told me her parents couldn't afford much, and that a dress for Sunday was low on their priority list. We discussed how I could give her a couple of my dresses - I had 5, she had none - sounded reasonable to me. So on Saturday I had her over to my house for the day. I proudly brought out the dress I had selected to give to her - the one that was my least favorite and didn't fit right. She smiled and squealed and hugged me and said I was the most stupendous friend ever. As we went outside to play, I said, "Did you see that Dad, I was REALLY generous, wasn't I!? God is probably smiling right now!" I will never forget what my Dad said. "Honey, Jodi smiled because it was free. God smiles when it is your best. David said it isn't your best unless it costs you something. Only you know if God is smiling." He wasn't condescending or critical. He just has that uncanny way of knowing what is really going on. Before Jodi left that day, I also gave her my very favorite dress. As we had our picture taken as a class the next day, I was so glad to see her in my favorite dress. Every Sunday for a long time from then on she wore those two dresses, and each time I remembered the difference in my attitude when I gave my least favorite, and when I gave my best. To this day, I know the difference, even though I don't stop to think about that incident. I definitely agree with David, and my Dad. :)

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