Wednesday, January 4, 2012

To Give...Or Not

To give, or not to give...that is the question. OK, that’s a bad rip off from Shakespeare’s familiar quote from Hamlet, “To be or not to be...” but it’s an area where we all struggle.

Do we give to charity or don’t we? Do we give to the homeless or don’t we? Do we tithe or don’t we? That’s right, I said the word...tithe. Depending on the church you attend this may be a common word in your vernacular or it may elicit looks of dismay, mumbled grumbling and a general sense of unease in the audience.

I’m not starting the year off with this post to stir up trouble or start a heated discussion about those who tithe and those who don’t.  (Although feel free to leave your comments below.) As I sit down to work through our personal financial budget for 2012, generosity has been on my mind.

It’s easy to be generous when the bills are paid and extra money is readily available. It’s easy to give 10% to the church and support other charities when it doesn’t affect our everyday the food we eat and the number of channels on our TV’s.

What about when the numbers just don’t add up? When you total your income and expenses and realize the final number is red, not black. How easy is it to be generous now?

The knee jerk reaction is to cut back in the areas where no bill collectors will phone us or send us nasty letters. Of course that’s the church and charities. These people aren’t going to call us up and ask us why they didn’t get any money this month.

I’ve volunteered on a few church boards and councils over the years. I can’t remember a single time when we presented a budget at the annual general meeting that wasn’t a “faith” budget. What does that mean? It means there was no way we’d ever generate that kind of revenue without relying on God to produce it.

So what about our personal finances? Do we do ourselves a disservice when we cut back in the church and charity areas? Are we limiting the amount of blessing and joy we get out of life by being generous? Should we approach it like the “faith” budget and trust God to move in our lives and provide for us through various unexplored opportunities?

I don’t have good answers for these questions.  I function with a highly analytical and logical mind and I have issues with seeing the colour red at the bottom of a column of figures!

But you throw faith into the mix and suddenly there are unknown factors in play – the “what if I give God a chance” or “do I trust Him enough to follow through on other opportunities and see what happens?” spring to mind.

What do you think? Are we too fast to cut back on generosity and giving in our personal lives? Do we limit God’s opportunities to show us what He can do for us?

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