Introductory Note:

In exploring our theme this week of the “blessing of blessing,” today we are looking at one of the most practical applications of this virtuous cycle: financial giving. In this excerpt from The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, Richard Foster prescribes a “lavish and joyful giving” as the antidote to low spiritual vitality, dusty words, and hollow, empty prayers.

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from The Challenge of the Disciplined Life

The grace of giv­ing is often a tremen­dous stim­u­lant to the life of faith. This is why the offer­ing is cor­rect­ly placed as part of the wor­ship experience.

In Isa­iah 58 we read of a very reli­gious peo­ple whose pious devo­tion count­ed for noth­ing because it was not matched with active car­ing for the poor and the oppressed. Is not this the fast that I choose,” pro­claims God, to loose the bonds of wicked­ness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isa. 58:6). Reli­gious piety is bank­rupt with­out jus­tice. If you want your fast­ing to have true spir­i­tu­al con­tent, then you are to share your bread with the hun­gry, and bring the home­less poor into your house” (Isa. 58:7).

If our spir­i­tu­al vital­i­ty seems low, if Bible study pro­duces only dusty words, if prayer seems hol­low and emp­ty, then per­haps a pre­scrip­tion of lav­ish and joy­ful giv­ing is just what we need. Giv­ing brings authen­tic­i­ty and vital­i­ty to our devo­tion­al experience. 

Mon­ey is an effec­tive way of show­ing our love to God because it is so much a part of us. One econ­o­mist put it this way: Mon­ey as a form of pow­er is so inti­mate­ly relat­ed to the pos­ses­sor that one can­not con­sis­tent­ly give mon­ey with­out giv­ing self.” In a sense, mon­ey is coined per­son­al­i­ty, so tied to who we are that when we give it we are giv­ing our­selves. We sing, Take my life and let it be, con­se­crat­ed, Lord, to Thee.” But we must flesh out that con­se­cra­tion in spe­cif­ic ways, which is why the next line of the hymn says, Take my sil­ver and my gold, not a mite would I with­hold.” We con­se­crate our­selves by con­se­crat­ing our money. 

Dr. Karl Men­ninger once asked one wealthy patient, What on earth are you going to do with all that mon­ey?” The patient replied, Just wor­ry about it, I sup­pose!” Dr. Men­ninger went on, Well, do you get that much plea­sure out of wor­ry­ing about it?” No,” respond­ed the patient, but I get such ter­ror when I think of giv­ing some of it to somebody.”

Now, this ter­ror” is real. When we let go of mon­ey we are let­ting go of part of our­selves and part of our secu­ri­ty. But this is pre­cise­ly why it is impor­tant to do it. It is one way to obey Jesus’ com­mand to deny our­selves. If any man would come after me, let him deny him­self and take up his cross dai­ly and fol­low me” (Luke 9:23).

When we give mon­ey we are releas­ing a lit­tle more of our ego­cen­tric selves and a lit­tle more of our false secu­ri­ty. John Wes­ley declared that if you have any desire to escape the damna­tion of hell; give all you can; oth­er­wise l can have no more hope of your sal­va­tion than that of Judas Iscariot.”

Giv­ing frees us from the tyran­ny of mon­ey. But we do not just give mon­ey; we give the things mon­ey has pur­chased. In Acts the ear­ly Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty gave hous­es and land to pro­vide funds for those in need (Acts 4:32 – 37). Have you ever con­sid­ered sell­ing a car or a stamp col­lec­tion to help finance some­one’s edu­ca­tion? Mon­ey has also giv­en us the time and leisure to acquire skills. What about giv­ing those skills away? Doc­tors, den­tists, lawyers, com­put­er experts, and many oth­ers can give their skills for the good of the community. 

Giv­ing frees us to care. It pro­duces an air of expectan­cy as we antic­i­pate what God will lead us to give. It makes life with God an adven­ture of dis­cov­ery. We are being used to help make a dif­fer­ence in the world, and that is worth liv­ing for and giv­ing for.

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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