Generosity Starts with the Heart, Not the Checkbook

Is your congregation stuck seeing generosity as what they cannot give rather than why or how they give?

Generosity is a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values, and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with recognition of God as Creator of all things, and our position as steward of some things.

As stewards, we are in charge of the possessions God has given us – an authority that is real, but secondary to God’s ultimate ownership.

When we get these two ownerships mixed up, problems follow.

One solution to help you grow and develop generous givers in your church is by encouraging them to examining their heart first before you ask them to give.

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THE QUICK SUMMARY – Generosity: Moving Toward a Life that is Truly Life

How would you like to raise the tide of generosity in your life and in your church while discovering greater spiritual maturity through giving?

Generosity was designed to help you do just this. Churches are using Generosity in powerful, creative ways to change the money conversation. People give generously when they reflect on God s generosity, and this book will help you and your church do just that.

Let award-winning author Gordon MacDonald show you how in this four-week devotional, with 100,000 copies in print, that uses Scripture to demonstrate God’s desire for each of us to live a generous life. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Giving is such a sacred and worshipful act that it should not be thwarted by a person’s wrong relationship to another. God so values showing mercy and achieving reconciliation that it justifies temporarily postponing the act of giving. This makes the gift and the worship more meaningful to the individual and more pleasing to God.

God seeks generous givers. But, first, He seeks generous givers whose hearts are right with Him and with others.

Jesus puts a condition on gifts in Matthew 5:23:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.”

Here is Christ, in effect, saying that giving must be preceded by certain actions that are inherently spiritual and relational. In fact, He appears to be discouraging giving if one has not given careful attention to other issues…such as the quality of relationship between the would-be giver and his or her “brother.” You have approached the altar with your gift, He says, and suddenly you are caused to remember that there is a broken relationship out there….with your “brother.”

In this case the “brother” may be a relative, a friend, a working colleague. You’ve offended him; there is a significant breach in your relationship. Before you can give, you must repair the relational damage. Jesus’ remedy: Leave the gift in front of the altar, find your “brother,” reconcile, and then come back and complete the “transaction.”

Jesus regards giving as a whole-person event. The gift on the altar is not impressive to Him if it is not preceded by a “gift” of another kind in another part of life. In this case: the gift of reconciliation whether it means asking forgiveness or giving it. Leave your gift where it is and go to your “brother.” The temptation, of course, for the generous giver is to think that a major gift covers a lot of small issues in another part of one’s life. And that might have been true for the religious leaders of those days and, perhaps, even of today. A large gift can close a lot of eyes. But not the eyes of the Lord. God apparently would rather have the giver stay at home with his gift, if he is planning to approach the alter while there is resentment and hostility in the background.

Gordon MacDonald, Generosity: Moving Toward a Life that is Truly Life

A NEXT STEP

Personal heart change is a necessary first step toward personal life change. That principle is at the core of Jesus’ teaching.

In the Matthew 5 passage referenced above, we are called to place interpersonal reconciliation above correct ritual. While we cannot guarantee that another person will agree to be reconciled with us, we should make every effort “as far as it depends on you” (Romans 12:18).

As the leadership of your church begins with the leadership of yourself, how have you recently applied this passage to your own life? Are there un-reconciled relationships between you and a staff member or church leader?

What is the relational health of your staff? Are their offerings hindered by unhealthy relationships with one another or other church leaders?
It will take courage, but engage those closest to you in humility and a posture of grace. Begin by asking forgiveness first, then opening the door for relational repair.

As your leadership climate becomes healthier, grow a culture of generosity church-wide by creating a safe environment to talk about what matters the most. If healthy stewardship conversations cannot happen among the staff, it will never become cultural among the congregation.


Closing Thoughts

Because a giving God expects a giving people, the generous Christian should be a joyous giver. We give as an expression of our new nature and life in Christ.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 30-3, December, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

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