I was hosting a Journey of Generosity (JOG) for my ministry board not too long ago. We were three hours in when the wife of one of my board members asked if she could share. “Of course,” I answered her.
“My husband has the gift of giving,” she shared. “But because of my fear of having enough money in the future, I’ve held him back.” She spoke from the heart, and her honesty showed that her heart was being stirred.
We host theses JOGs often – overnight retreats for the express purpose of talking about giving and generosity. A group of peers get together to consider this important subject we might not otherwise take time to think and talk about, and to encourage each other. Generosity can be life-changing, not just for the recipient, but for the giver too. It can bring freedom and joy and purpose. I could see this happening in this marriage.
Generosity can be life-changing, not just for the recipient, but for the giver too. It can bring freedom and joy and purpose.
I wasn’t surprised when this brave lady said, “The Lord’s love has shown me that I need to trust him and support my husband’s generosity.” She needed our prayers that she would be able let go of fear and join in her husband’s joyful giving.
Wow! She’d been living with fear, but still she was following the Lord. And he had spoken to her. Her husband’s generosity was joyful, and it was contagious. I thank the Lord that the joy of giving won out and brought this sweet couple onto the same page.
Scarcity mindset: It’s all about who owns the things you have
How much is enough? The Holy Spirit can lead couples to God’s heart for them and help them find the answer to this question. Fear says there is never enough, but faith says the Lord’s provision is enough. He himself is enough for us. This doesn’t mean we don’t plan well, but it does mean that we give up obsessing over “building bigger barns” to protect us from the future.
Remember the parable Jesus told about the man who, when he decided he had enough, started planning for bigger barns to store up for the rest of his life? He didn’t plan to share it. He didn’t give it all away to the poor. There was no need to trust God in his equation. But what did God say to him? “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
Then Jesus turned the story on his audience: “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God,” (Luke 12:20-21).
This parable Jesus unpacks is full of emotion, wisdom, and warning. He calls out a prosperous man for his foolishness: shortsightedness, self-indulgence and self-deception. The productive man thought he owned his possessions: “my crops, my barns, my grain, myself.” This farmer missed the obvious: The Creator of the soil, his soul, and the harvest, was Almighty God. This foolish man failed to be rich toward God by living for himself. Fear can cause the same lack of trust in God.
We need to place our trust in our large and in charge Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and trust in his blessings:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
– 2 Corinthians 9:8-9
Am I building my barns bigger? Or, am I making God’s world better? Subtly, wealth can simultaneously focus us on our need for stuff (and the fear of losing it) and make us feel our need for God less. How can couples overcome this obstacle to generosity and this lack of trust in God’s provision?
Getting on the same page
As followers of Jesus, if we focus on becoming more like Christ, others will see and learn something about following Christ. Those others may be people we’re doing business with or the people we help. They may even be our spouses. Being rich toward God is valuing what God values over ourselves, and we never know whose heart God might touch when we are generous.
But if you really want to work toward getting on the same page with each other and with God, here are some questions you can pray together as a couple to help you learn to be rich toward the Lord:
- Dear Lord, will you show me how you love me and how you want me to love others?
- Dear Lord, how can I build for your kingdom, and avoid building my own bigger barns?
- Dear Lord, as my possessions increase, how does that increase my need for you?
- Dear Lord, what is your desire for the possessions I manage for you?
- Dear Lord, how can I become more wise and not foolish in your eyes?
- Dear Lord, show me the peril to my soul of meeting the demands of building my own “bigger barns.”
- Dear Lord, show me how you are enough for me.
The alternative that Jesus offers in the parable of the rich fool, is that we be “rich toward God.” This means treasuring what he treasures: my relationship with him and other people, lost souls, hurting human beings. To be rich toward God is to be rich in good deeds, rich in generosity, and rich in your relationships.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
– 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Prayer: Heavenly Father, inspire and instruct me to be rich toward you, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Application: How can I become better in trusting God is enough?
For further reading: 1 Chronicles 29:14; Proverbs 3:9, 11:25; Matthew 6:2; Luke 6:30