God created each of us with the willingness to give—to God and to others. We’re hard-wired to be givers; we need to be generous. Yet there are two “voices” that war against our God-given impulse toward generosity, tempting us to keep or hoard what we have.
The voice of fear says, “If you give, there may not be enough left over for you.” We are afraid to be generous because we are afraid of what might happen to us. What if we don’t have enough to fill the gas tank or buy groceries or pay the bills?
This voice may have been particularly loud and convincing during the last couple of years, as many of us have been unemployed and watched property values decline. I have friends and family members who have endured financial hardship lately.
But I must implore you to not give fear the power to eliminate generosity from your life. Fear, along with a misplaced idea about the true source of our security, can keep us from being generous and lead us to hoard what we have. Yet the truth is that hoarding offers us no real security in this world.
The voice of self-gratification says, “If you give, you won’t have enough money to buy the stuff you need to make you happy.”
I don’t have to tell you that we live in a culture that prizes abundance of possessions and pleasurable experiences above all else. We are convinced that a new car or a bigger house will make us happy. Giving away our money means that we won’t have enough to buy the latest and greatest electronic toy or take a lavish vacation. We don’t want to “miss out” or deprive ourselves, so our self-gratifying tendencies cause us to clutch our money tightly.
So, how do we defeat the voices of fear and self-gratification?
In a sense, they are defeated the moment we put our faith in Jesus Christ. Although we still may wrestle with the voices from time to time, we are able to silence them more readily and effectively the more we grow in Christ.
And the more we grow in Christ, the more generous we become. One of the ways we can cultivate spiritual growth, and subsequently grow in generosity, is to realize that our entire lives belong to the Lord. Here’s a simple prayer I use that helps me commit all of my life to Christ:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rand me with whom thou wilt;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and heartily yield all things to they pleasure and disposal. …
—“A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition” in The United Methodist Hymnal
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