It’s the second quarter of the global pandemic and I made the mistake of looking at my retirement account statement. Why did I think this was a good idea? Why this month? I rarely, as in maybe once a year, review these statements. Boy, did these losses feel like a sucker punch to my stomach. Yet my paper losses are nothing compared to the increasing number of friends who are experiencing first-hand the disappearance of the hard-earned financial comfort of a regular paycheck and stretching a less-cushioned, if any saving at all, saving account. Many are losing their security blanket.
I pondered with a few running friends the security blankets we tightly grasp. We came up with a few: Spouse (to never feel alone); Education (can always take care of self); Money/Assets (provide for self and others); Home Ownership (shelter and protection of a roof overhead); Retirement (better days yet to come); Association with like-minded groups (voice is heard and accepted); Looking Youthful (being desirable and attract companionship), even a Pet (unconditional love). All are great options to blog about, yet from the minute God handed our team the word SECURITY, I knew He wanted me to write about money. And you know what, that made my stomach uncomfortable too. I wondered what past trials or new tests of faith God would prompt (Matthew 6).
From my earliest earnings, I was taught to save, putting a portion of my babysitting money and retail paychecks into a savings account. As my career began, I opened a 401k and ETRADE investment account. All three gave me security that I was making it on my own. I enjoyed the Boom of Y2K (it was thrilling to look at the investment accounts those months!) and rode the bear markets following 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2007. But it wasn’t until 2016 that I began learning what God says about giving. Plus, He totally has a sense of humor, providing me double schooling at church and at work.* Don’t get me wrong, I believed in giving of my time, talent, and treasure. I volunteered at non-profits and made contributions to worthy organizations. However, my husband and I didn’t fully tithe, giving the first 10% of gross directly to the Church, nor did we have a strategy to whom to give a donation (Proverbs 3:9-10).
Over the course of the next couple of years, Marcus and I were making strides in intentional giving, which I shared over a manicure with my friend Heather. While chatting, Heather asked how we decided whom to donate money. I answered honestly and didn’t think anything more about it. Fast forward six months, Heather and I were in a couples Bible Study together and she asked me to explain our giving plan. I paused and looked to her for direction, trying to get a better feel for what she wanted me to share. My pause launched her into telling the others about how our family changed our focus to a posture of generosity – that we give some to the church (ear-noting our resources to bundle with others’ monies to rescue sex-slave individuals in India), an American family on mission in Nicaragua, a child we support in Nicaragua, how our children give away part of their chicken-egg profits, as well donations to local organizations. As she went on, I was amazed and flattered, she was verbatim sharing that brief conversation over getting our nails done, which clearly was much more meaningful to her than I realized. She desired tithing to be part of her family too.
‘“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,’ says the Lord Almighty.”’ Malachi 3:10-12
Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest… read more at Luke 12:15-21
“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”. Luke 12:48
‘”As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”’ Luke 21:1-4
You may wonder what giving money away has to do with the security of a substantial balance in your bank account. Circuitously, it does. When we sacrificially give, much is given back to us. Unlike the ways of the world, which tell us to save, hoard, and save some more, God’s way is completely counter-cultural. He teaches us to understand it’s not “our” money, and that He will use it to benefit the well-being of more of His children. The beautiful part of giving can start small: skip your next hair-cut, stop buying coffee on the go, reduce some movie channels, and give that amount away. You really won’t miss it, yet you will bless someone immensely.
As we release some of our account balance to help others, our hearts are filled to full capacity, and sometimes our finances are replenished too – cash arriving in an unmarked envelope, or an expensive repair that is surprisingly under warranty, even a new business contract for the exact amount we just gave. I especially love reading about anonymous donations – the humility that must exist by donating and declining your name to be associated with it! Sometimes the blessings are the realization we really didn’t need some of the excesses we cut and feel freer without them (maybe a lower maintenance hairstyle, less distraction of multiple movie options, the joy of creating new coffee drinks with family). The best blessings come from KNOWING we are being obedient.
Be forewarned, once God starts softening your heart in this area, He will continue to nudge you to run your household on less, and to give more. He still wants you to give your time and talent and is making sure your Treasure hasn’t become an idol. (Like it had for the rich young ruler – Mark 10:17-31). God might even convict you for the full tithe, 10% on gross income, bonus, home sale, and recognized stock gains, etc. instead of net.** Do a quick calculation, the first time will feel like a huge amount of money. But once you start giving it away the beginning of every month, you really won’t miss it. I’ve watched families receive tremendous blessings from their giving. I imagine these are the times when God is pleased. He truly is an adoring Big Daddy in Heaven and wants to spoil His children. Only in God’s economy could you be wealthier by giving away your treasure!
When I began penning this blog, I wondered if God was going to put me through the financial ringer, testing my faith to provide a real-time scenario to share. Instead, He prompted this Good Word to give me the visual of how much work He has done in our lives. Yes, our account balances are lower than if we were going at life with an all-for-us approach, yet our dividends are far richer and farther reaching than we ever imagined. Our stress is lower, as we are confident in the Lord to provide our retirement community and eternal playground. The excavation is still in process (read other areas He is peeling back), but our ears are open to hearing where our hands are to share.
God’s way is completely counter-cultural to the world. Instead of being a slave to your security blanket, how can you receive freedom by letting them go? Instead of trusting in self, how can you let God be your Rock? (Psalms 18:2, 28:1, 28:8, 62:7). Love Him and listen as He leads you to bless those around you. Our true inheritance is the love He desires to show to 1000 generations of our descendants! (Exodus 20:5-6). If I learn nothing else from this crisis, I can clearly see if held too tightly, all of these security blankets are actually false senses of security and can become idols. In a poof of a moment, any of them can disappear from a stock market crash, threat of war, weather catastrophe, medical emergency, or health pandemic.
Have you felt God tugging at your security blanket? Is there an area in which He is asking you to put your trust solely in Him? Let Go – He loves and cherishes you.
Prayer – Lord, you are a generous Daddy. Thank you for loving me and teaching me Your economy. I am so thankful that You removed the grip money had on my family and allow us to be part of your story. Please continue to strip away the worldly imitations that dilute Your full joy and strength. I pray you continue to lead me in obedience to your ways and use my voice to share Your wisdom to friends that are interested in hearing. Amen
* Crossroads Church Huddle Training – Generosity, along with learnings from Dave Ramsey (https://www.daveramsey.com/).
** The Blessed Life: Unlocking the Rewards of Generous Living, author Robert Morris.
First Published on Good Word Project