Monday October 16, 2023 From Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving
There Is Always a Way One poor widow came up and put in two small coins. . . . Jesus . . . said, “. . . All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
— Mark 12:42-44, The MessageFor hundreds of generations, the practice of tithing has sustained growth in personal generosity. To tithe means to give a tenth, and involves returning to God ten percent of income. It’s simple, concise, and consistent. Write down your income for the month, move the decimal point over one place, and write a check to the church for the amount you see. Do it first thing when you are paid, and you discover that the practice dials down appetites, reshapes priorities, and that all other expenses, needs, and savings will readjust. What could be easier?
A friend told me that the first time he wrote a tithe check, it felt like he’d swallowed an avocado pit!
For most people, tithing is not easy. It takes time to learn and adapt and grow into the practice.
Some people perceive the tithe to be nothing more than a left-over from an Old Testament law-based theology. They think it is an arbitrary rule with little relevance today.
And yet Jesus commended the practice, even among the Pharisees whom he criticized for making a show of their self-righteousness. The early church practiced the tithe, and so have Christians in every generation since. John Wesley tithed and expected early Methodists to give regularly and generously at every class meeting and chapel service. Their gifts were meticulously recorded so that people could hold themselves accountable to the practice of giving.
The people whom we admire and respect for their generous spirits, spiritual wisdom, and deepheartedness invariably have practiced giving in such an extravagant manner that it has reshaped them. God has used their long-term patterns of giving to form in them the spiritual qualities that cause them to be our mentors. They give extravagantly according to their means, and many beyond their means, and most practice or exceed the tithe.
Name one person you admire and respect because of all they keep for themselves. Name someone you consider generous and spiritually mature who constantly complains about giving, or who always seeks to give the least amount required. Largeness of spirit leads to an eagerness to give our utmost and highest.
Despite the outward challenges and inner struggles, and the countercultural nature of generosity, where there is a desire to give, there is a way. The two coins dropped in the treasury from the hands of the poor widow, noticed by Jesus and recorded for all time as a model of Extravagant Generosity, forever reminds us that there is always a way. Giving helps us become what God wants us to be.