Going to the doctor is not something I enjoy. I’m always thinking, “I feel okay, but…what if there is something wrong that I’m not feeling? What if the doctor tells me something that I don’t want to hear? What if he says I need to lose weight? What if he says I need to eat better? All these questions produce some anxiety in me which is probably why my blood pressure is usually high when I’m in the office waiting to see them!
Getting a heart checkup as a follower of Jesus is something we all want to do regularly, especially when it comes to generosity. The Psalmist writes, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV). When we think about living a more generous lifestyle, it all starts with our hearts being renewed, more surrendered, and more devoted to Jesus. As our hearts are impacted by all that God has done for us, generosity becomes more natural, and it grows in us overflowing into the lives of others.
The local church is like the doctor’s office, in that it helps us grow our generous hearts. When you connect with a group of people that you are walking with and who are walking with you, God can use them to help you grow in generosity. There are many great ministries and organizations where you can give, but they’re not helping to nurture your heart and disciple you as a follower of Jesus. That’s why our generosity should always start with giving to the local church. Good output or generous giving and living comes because of great input. The local church is used by God to facilitate great input through regular gathering and teaching, life-changing relationships, and surrendered living.
Maybe you’ve been following Jesus for just a short time, or maybe it’s been a long time, but you’ve just not given financially. Maybe you just didn’t understand this part of surrendering your whole life to Jesus. We believe that generosity is something we get to do; not that we have to do. We believe that generosity is something God wants for us, not from us. Let me invite you to start today. Listen to the prompting of God’s spirit and open your heart up to this area of discipleship and see what God does!
You’re someone that gives occasionally, when you attend, or when there is a special need. It’s hard to see a change in a medical condition if we just follow the doctor’s orders haphazardly or take the medication occasionally. The same is true as we follow Jesus. The truth is that regular and consistent giving changes us as disciples of Jesus. It reflects a heart of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us and a trust in all that He wants to do in us and through us.
When you look around at church, you can see that there is so much going on. People are accepting Jesus, taking the step of baptism, becoming part of a small group or a Home Team, volunteering, and you’re hearing stories about lives being changed. It's exciting to know that God never calls us to a life of stagnancy. He calls us to a life of growth and movement. Our giving is always another opportunity to be more surrendered. Perhaps that is where you are, and I’d encourage you to ask God what your next step is in your generosity journey as a Christ-follower.
For some of us who give online, it’s easy to just get on autopilot if our giving is being auto drafted out of our bank account or credit or debit card. We need to evaluate our giving and decide whether it is still changing and challenging us. This is a heart question about our relationship with Jesus: Is our relationship with Jesus on autopilot? How could a step up in giving truly change and challenge us? That is the heart of a surrendered disciple.
Have you ever just decided to pay it forward in the line at Scooters or Starbucks and pay for the order for someone behind you? Maybe one weekend you really loved the message and you thought, “I’m going to triple-give today because the sermon was just so awesome!” Those moments are great, and we really want to embrace them and lean into them when God is speaking to us to give more than usual. Sometimes, the flip side of that can be when we don’t feel like giving, we don’t give. Our relationship with Jesus is so much more than a moment or a feeling. It’s a choice to follow Him where He leads and become more like Him each day, even when the feelings aren’t there. Let me invite you into this type of giving today, next week, or the next time you give. Show Jesus that you are committed to Him, no matter what.
For some of you reading this, it may bring up hurts or wounds from the past—possibly a time when you felt that all the church wanted was your money, or possibly a wound from something financial in your family life right now that is difficult. God loves a cheerful giver, not a hurt giver, or not a wounded giver. He wants to heal you of your past wounds and wants you to experience joy in your giving because it’s from your heart. If you’re struggling today in your generosity journey, take some time this week to contact a pastor or your small group leader to allow them to help bring healing.
Wherever you are at this point in your checkup, let me encourage you to allow God to change your heart. You’ll never be sorry, and you’ll never regret allowing your changed heart to grow your generosity.