Wednesday October 18, 2023 From Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving
Through God’s Eyes “Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
— Romans 12:1-2, The Message
Vibrant, fruitful, growing congregations thrive because of the extraordinary sharing, willing sacrifice, and joyous giving of their members out of love for God and neighbor. Such churches teach and practice giving that focuses on the abundance of God’s grace and that emphasizes the Christian’s need to give rather than on the church’s need for money. In the spirit and manner of Christ, congregations that practice Extravagant Generosity explicitly talk about the place of money in the Christian’s walk of faith. They view giving as a gift from God and are driven to be generous by a high sense of mission and a keen desire to please God by making a positive difference in the world.
The notion that giving rightly focuses on our need to give rather than on the church’s need to receive is not a money-raising strategy, but a spiritually powerful truth. The practice of tithing benefits the giver as much as it strengthens the mission and ministry of the church.
Americans live in an extraordinarily materialist and consumerist society. We are immersed in a culture that feeds acquisitiveness, the appetite for more and bigger, and that fosters the myth that self-worth is found in material wealth and that happiness comes by possessing. Thirty-year-olds feel like failures because they don’t already have the kind of house that their parents own. Couples struggle under oppressive levels of debt that strain marriages, destroy happiness, and intensify conflict and anxiety. As one radio show host says, “We buy things we don’t even need with money we don’t even have to impress people we don’t even know!” (The Dave Ramsey Show).
At root, these are spiritual problems, not merely financial planning issues. They reveal belief systems that are spiritually corrosive and that lead to continuing discontent, discouragement, and unhappiness. We can never earn enough to be happy when we believe that satisfaction, self-definition, and meaning derive principally from our possessions, and we can never trust our sense of self-worth when it rests on treasures that are material and temporal. A philosophy based principally upon materialism, acquisition, and possessions is not sufficient to live by, or to die by. At some point, followers of Jesus must decide whether they will listen to the wisdom of the world or to the wisdom of God.