Generous and Joyful
About twelve or so years ago, I spent quite a bit of time with a dear friend attending her son’s soccer games. During the hours spent on the sidelines, I was a part of many conversations with the other soccer moms. Out of all our chats, one conversation has stayed with me over the decade. One mom was sharing a story about a woman from her bible study. The woman managed her family’s finances without much input from her husband. When, after some time, her husband happened to catch up on the family’s finance,s he was surprised to find that the woman had been giving half of their income to their church. When questioned, the woman responded, “Well, we didn’t need it, did we?” The husband agreed, the concern was dropped and they continued giving as they had been.
What struck me about the story was not the assumed amount or even the percentage that the couple was giving, but the joyful and generous attitude in the giving. And even more importantly, the solid faith in Christ that he could and would meet the earthly needs of the family.
Reflecting on myself, I am acutely aware of how I can be more like the religious Pharisees and leaders of Jesus’ day; calculating percentages and budgets and ticking off boxes to display piety. I am familiar with the thoughts of figuring out the minimum I can give while still meeting my own “standards” of being a “good Christian.” Why do I fail, even in my giving?
I am a sinner.
Those attributes of giving mentioned before (joyful, generous, faithful) are not something I can conjure up on my own. As a person effected by the fallen and depraved world, I cannot in my own power produce faith and joy. I need Christ. Desperately. Although redeemed, my sanctification is not complete over night. It is a process, sometimes painful, that will continue throughout the rest of my earthly life. I can trust that God will complete that work within me; and meanwhile, it is my responsibility to lean into the sanctifying work of the Spirit, even praying for it.
As we enter the season of stewardship, I am reminded to pray for sanctification in my giving. This is my prayer: “Oh Lord, You alone have the power to give and give freely. I know that I cannot produce faith on my own. Lord, I ask that You increase my faith in You, faith that is grounded in You and Your promises. Produce in me joy and a generosity that only comes when giving You glory is my primary purpose. Let no unbelief make me waver concerning your promises, but grow my faith as I give glory to You.” (Romans 4:20)
by Emily Gooch, Hope Church member