When it comes to money, “enough” is one of culture’s most loaded terms.
Because even if you don’t have a lot of extra cash currently sitting in your bank account (and are maybe even carrying some debt), if you have access to clean water, never fear going hungry and have a place to live, on global terms, you’re actually doing really well. And if you have a Netflix account and a smartphone, you are one of the more privileged people on the planet.
In fact, not only do one in 10 people currently survive on less than $1 a day but, if you make more than $32,400 a year, then you are in the top 1 percent of earners currently alive.
That’s right, there’s a pretty good chance that you have the ability to be in the top 1 percent if you’re not already.
In the book of Luke, Jesus told His followers, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Hint: If you’re reading this article on your own electronic device, He’s probably talking to you.)
However, the numbers tell a different story when it comes to American Christians’ commitment to giving. Even though 247 million Americans identify as Christians, just 1.5 million tithe. (Tithing is the biblical principle of giving away 10 percent of your earnings back to God.)
The good news is though, no matter how much you currently give or don’t give, no amount is ever “enough”—because giving and generosity isn’t about a number: It’s about your heart and your willingness to trust God with what you been given. The additional good news is that there is grace: Even if you haven’t done great with giving, it’s never too late to start, and you shouldn’t feel shame about it.
Here’s a look at four ways to be generous—because not having “enough” is never an excuse.
1. Take the “First Fruits” Approach.
In ancient Israel, part of the law was that tithes to God shouldn’t be the leftovers. Even if farmers could pull together 10 percent of their harvest from gleanings, God wasn’t interested. He wanted the “First Fruits”—the first and best offerings of the harvest.
If you apply this to your finances, tithing becomes an exercise that isn’t dictated by how much you have leftover each month. When you see each paycheck, automatically assume that the first 10 percent will go to a church or charity. Then, plan your other expenses. Sure, it may leave you less to spend, but it ensures that your priorities are in the right place.
It’s not that God needs your money—it’s that He wants you to know the benefits of true generosity that prioritizes giving to others before worrying about your own needs. It’s a spiritual principle with a very tangible practice attached to it.
2. Think Beyond Your Wallet.
Yes, tithing, spending money to help others and donating to charities are all important, but they aren’t the only ways to be generous.
Generosity isn’t simply a discipline or an exercise—it’s a lifestyle.
Be generous with your time and your talents. Volunteer at a local charity. Teach a Sunday school class. Coach a little league team. Or just start by taking more time to actually listen the needs of others in your life.
Once you start giving from your bank account, you’d be surprised at how quickly you find other ways to give of yourself.
3. Create a Sustainable Financial Plan.
Millennials are one of the most indebted generations in history, and much has been written about the economic conditions that have in many ways stacked the deck against them financially. However, there are tools available that can help you create a financial plan that allows you to save, give generously and invest no matter what your current situation is.
The bottom line is: There are tools available to help you get your financial house in order. Even though for some people that may seem overwhelming, big change starts through a series of small steps.
4. Get Involved in the Causes You Care About.
Want to get more inspired to give? Visit the people being impacted by the support of others and truly learn about the communities that you can help.
Watch this video from the Preemptive Love Coalition which works on the frontlines of the refugee crisis. Or this short film from charity:water which provides in-need communities with clean-water wells. Or this clip from Homeboy Industries that helps former gang members find new lives and new jobs. Visit a children’s hospital. Spend an afternoon at a soup kitchen.
Once you truly see and understand the impact that real generosity can have, giving no longer seems like a chore or a burden—it becomes the ultimate privilege that we get to take part in.