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.