You’ve probably heard of generosity projects, like a church handing out a hundred bucks to everyone in attendance to give away, and then asking them to come back with an inspiring story of how God used it.
It all seems like a fun idea, right? Well, maybe. The first time someone gave me a $25 gift card to give away it was not so fun. I felt nervous because I wanted to make my generosity story a “good one.” Subconsciously, I was thinking If I’m going to be unexpectedly generous, it better be YouTube worthy. So much for pure motivation to help my fellow man.
Another time, my company gave us $100 worth of cards to give away in place of a Christmas present. I couldn’t wait to get rid of them. Not because I was excited about getting to bless people, but just because I wanted to get through the exercise and move on with my “normal” life.
Not only did you have to give the gift card away, but you first had to pray and ask God who He wanted you to give it to. This added a whole other layer of complication to the project. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t want to carry the responsibility of daily listening to the Lord about where He wanted me to be generous.
Even if you haven’t participated in a generosity project, I think we can all relate to feeling hesitant toward giving, especially when that giving is inconvenient to you or disrupts your daily life.
Here are a few reasons I think we feel that hesitation.
1. We’re Control Freaks
“It all belongs to God anyway.”
We’ve all likely heard that before, but when God asks me to give a sum of money that sounds too big, I hesitate. “God, You really don’t mean that, do You? That would not be a good steward of the resources that You have given to me!” I argue as if somehow I am the one who is owns it all, and not Jesus.
Most of us like having a certain amount of money in our bank account, and it’s easy to freak out a little if it dips below a certain point. Letting go is hard, really hard. Because letting go of control actually forces us to do what we say we believe—to walk out our faith and trust that God actually is good, loving, kind and certainly wiser and more qualified to make decisions then you or me. Or, as Proverbs puts it, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
2. We Feel Pressured to Give Instead of Free to Give
I hate feeling pressured by organizations or churches to give money. But often, when I do feel led by God to give, I hesitate because I don’t want to give too much. I find reasons not to give more by worrying that my donation will make the ministry dependent on my giving. Maybe giving them this donation will cause them to treat me differently or change how they operate.
Since I’m not at the stage in my life where tithing 10 percent of my income will single-handedly fund the whole charity’s budget, I don’t think that “overgiving” is really my issue.
It’s almost as if we need to give ourselves permission to be lavish in our giving like God has been lavish to us. We don’t have to give; we get to give. It is an honor and privilege to reflect the generosity of Jesus to others. Once you loosen your grip on your money, you will experience incredible joy and freedom in being generous.
3. We’re Waiting on Lavish Wealth to Give Lavishly
We have this idea that generosity has to be large sums of money—the more generous we are, the more zeros we add to our charitable donations. We tend to think only really wealthy people can be truly generous. You’ve heard people say it, “If I won the lotto, I would help so many people.” But maybe generosity is just listening to the Lord when He prompts us to help this person, or give to that ministry, or bless that cause.
Maybe it’s not money at all, but our time, our goodwill, our connections, our friendship or our expertise.
Jesus Doesn’t Want Your Money; He Wants You
God isn’t this cosmic kill-joy that demands taxes from His subjects. He doesn’t need our resources to be happy or successful. He does, though, ask us to be like His Son, and Jesus was incredibly generous.
The key is using giving as a way of drawing closer to the Lord. Giving is a privilege; a constant conversation between you and the Lord about where He wants you to invest. Isn’t all of our life supposed to be like this? Aren’t we constantly supposed to be listening to the Lord and obeying the things that He says? Aren’t we supposed to always give up what we want for what He wants (which is always better anyway)?
Yes, Jesus wants obedience, but at the end of the day, Jesus desires you. He wants to know and walk with you through each day of your life. He wants to speak and be heard. He wants to let you in on the secrets of the Kingdom of God.
However, my communication line to the Lord is often clogged with worries and distractions, so when someone gives me a gift card and reminds me to listen to the Lord about who to bless, I am jolted back to reality.
My prayer for us is that we would be reminded that God wants to walk with us and speak to us every single day. I pray that we would seek His face for guidance about how to leverage our lives and resources for His Kingdom and His glory.
Maybe that looks like doing that seemingly scary thing that you believe the Lord has called you to, and trusting Him with the results. Maybe it means picking up a $25 gift card and asking the Lord who He wants you to give it to. Whatever it looks like for you or me, I pray that we would seek out the voice of God and trust Him through any surprises.