The typical American in 2021 is one of the wealthiest individuals the world has ever seen. In fact, the United States is the richest country in the world. And yet, when we ask ourselves “How much is enough?” more often than not, our answer is, “I don’t know. But it’s a little bit more than what I have.”
I don’t point out our fortunate circumstances to impose guilt, but to encourage us to see the opportunity we’ve been handed! In this abundant life that God has given us to steward, let’s flip the script on that answer to say “Lord, this is more than enough. And as you bring more to us, we aren’t just going to grow our lifestyle. We are going to be obedient to your call for us to give (Malachi 3:10, Luke 6:38) by being even more generous.” So, how do we do that?
There will always be challenges or even barriers to growing in generosity. Yet they are easier to overcome when our life is structured toward obedience. As day eight covers in our 10 days of biblical generosity devotional, motives matter more than money. Our giving is a measure of our hearts, which God sees clearly. Obedient generosity is worship and a way to honor God. So, it just makes sense that we should be increasing in our practice of it.
Here are few ways we can reorganize our lives toward obedience and generosity.
Set a financial finish line
One way to combat the temptation of materialism is to adopt the concept of a “financial finish line” – a cap on your income or lifestyle at a predetermined point. Setting that finish line helps us become even more generous as God presents us with opportunities.
If you don’t plan ahead and an opportunity comes to be radically generous, it’s going to be harder to execute. Planning prepares us naturally and spiritually. Our budgeting ahead of time allows for giving, and our heart has time to align with what we believe God is asking us to do, thus equipping us to obey. Obedience with faith behind it really produces for those who believe in Christ.
Inventory your spending
Take a deep dive of your life and ask yourself if the things you’re accumulating, using, and doing are the things you really need. Ask God to reveal where you aren’t considering the highest and best use of your financial resources. Allow yourself to explore beyond writing checks by creating space in your schedule for volunteering, sharing your talents, or getting to know your neighbors. Is your giving going to organizations that support those Jesus says we should care for – like widows, orphans, and the marginalized? (Matthew 25:35-40, James 1:27) If not, it may be time to reorganize.
Consider your legacy of generosity
Mark and Sharon Taylor made a decision early on in their marriage. They wanted to build a generous family instead of bigger barns. Like the Taylors, you can discuss as a family how you want to prioritize your labor, influence, finances, and expertise. In your last days, when you think about your choices, will your family legacy be marked by gospel-motivated generosity and obedience?
Commit to a goal
In 2009, the only reason I swam, cycled, and ran day after day (after day!) was because I signed myself up for the Ironman triathlon. When we go about life with an ambition or a goal, it’s less difficult to be sacrificial in our decisions. A young NCF giver family I joyfully work with has committed, with another couple, to be responsible for translating the Bible for a specific people group. Their significant commitment to work with Wycliffe to complete an entire language of the Bible is going to inform their spending, drive their business decisions, and help them prioritize their time.
Oftentimes when we hear the word obedience, it gets tied to restricting our lifestyle. And while that may (and sometimes must) be part of it, it can also require being proactive. A significant first step is to read our 10 biblical principles to illuminate how God can use generosity in your life. Next, open a Giving Fund (donor-advised fund), or, if you have one already, consider non-cash giving or other creative ways to make the most of all God has given you.
It’s no mistake that God has placed you exactly where you are. Planning for obedient generosity is an act of living in faith of abundance rather than fear of scarcity. Our God is a God of abundance and generosity. When we organize our lives with this in mind, true generosity flows. When your family is ready to take the next step in generosity and obedience, contact me or your own local NCF team.