When I was young my mother remarried and shortly thereafter I met my stepfather’s mother, my new grandmother. She was the first “real” Christian I ever met. She told me about salvation and redemption and introduced me to Jesus Christ. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I really gave my life to Christ, but my grandmother made the introductions 🙂
My stepfather’s parents were different from anyone else I knew. For them Christianity was more than just religion, and they made Christ real to me.
The thing is, I remember one aspect of their faith that made a real impression on me – Giving.
They were not wealthy people, though in retrospect I realize now they were comfortable (my grandfather was a country doctor). One day my grandmother put an envelope on the window sill and I asked her what it was. She explained that it was their “gift” to the Lord.
Before my mother remarried we were pretty poor. I remember not having a lot to eat back then. So when my grandmother explained that they were just giving money away I could hardly believe it. I remember thinking that their faith was real if they believed in it enough to actually but money into it!
That experience shaped my attitude toward giving.
Giving (for me) is a way to “keep it real”. I don’t give because God needs the money (obviously He does not). I also try not to think of it as a “good work” because that leads to comparison, judgement and sin. The way I think of giving is as a confirmation that I believe in Christ enough to put my money where my mouth is. Like an investment (which is a bad analogy because I’m not foolish enough to think I’m buying my way to heaven, or stupid enough to think God wouldn’t notice).
When you are presented with an investment opportunity you need to ask yourself whether you can afford the risk and you need to judge the soundness of the investment. If you believe in the investment you commit resources to it. If you don’t believe in it you won’t.
When I give it has to be enough to matter, so that there is commitment to the investment, but not so much that I’m being irresponsible or foolish. I also try to be consistent so that it is a practice (like what I preach 😉 ), a habit like exercise.
The other thing is that if you are part of a family your giving has to be something you both agree on. Money is a big cause for stress in marriages, and making that “investment” has to be something both parties are comfortable with and committed to. Otherwise it is just religion.
And that’s a waste of money.