3 Ways to Use Money to Meet Needs
Perhaps there is no more poignant story in the New Testament than that of the Macedonian believers giving to help others in need. According to Paul’s writing, a famine in Judea had caught the attention of the Macedonians. Paul and his companions were receiving an offering to support those affected by the famine. Due to the poor financial condition of the Macedonians, Paul expected them not to contribute much, if at all. He explained it like this:
“During a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity. I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability, they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves especially to the Lord, then to us by God’s will” (2 Corinthians 8:2-5, HCSB).
We live in a culture heavily influenced by money. We are rarely encouraged to live lives of contentment. We are encouraged to give to an emotional appeal accompanied by heart-rending photos or stories. It really is sad that we are left to be motivated by those kinds of images.
What if we strove to meet the needs of others because it honored God and demonstrated the ethics of His kingdom?
As my son Nick and I were writing this unit, we thought about it like this:
Some of us are good at setting a budget and even sticking with it. Others of us have good intentions and we keep telling ourselves we need to live within a budget, but fail to do so. The budgets we set speak volumes about who we are. Where does giving and meeting the needs of others fall into our spending?1
Certainly there is nothing wrong with budgeting, especially when it helps us be better managers of all God has entrusted to us. But, if budgeting only serves as a more efficient means of accumulating possessions, we might need a spirit check.
Here are three ways to make sure our giving to others remains a priority in our financial lives:
First, remember that the Owner can shift His assets as He pleases.
If God owns everything, then He has the right to move those possessions from manager to manager as it fits His kingdom purposes. If we are not obedient financially, then we actively hinder the work of God.
Second, remember that giving is part of our budgeting.
Reducing debt is important, especially debt we incurred through unwise choices. But, let us not limit the purpose of budgeting to that end alone. We need to strategically give as well. Giving should be a priority in our budgeting.
Third, remember that giving should bring joy.
Giving was birthed in the heart of God, and giving reflects that heart. Giving, as Paul noted, should not be done because we are forced. It also should not happen in a way that our hearts begrudge our giving. “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – not reluctantly or out of necessity, but God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, HCSB).
Let us plan to give, prepare to give, and then give with joy! God will be honored and we will be an active participant in His divine generosity.
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