As the financial world seems to be collapsing all around us, you’ve probably been tempted to get stressed out and worry about your personal or ministry finances. I know I have!
I feel this pressure from our culture, and it feels like the weight of the world on my shoulders. I also get it from a verse I believe could have been translated better: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8).
Since this is not Greek class, let me simply say the word translated, “provide,” is actually not the Greek word for “provide” and this word may better be translated, “think about” or “care for” (Phil 2:3). We need to be people who “think about” and “care for” those around us and especially our loved ones, by unselfishly sharing what we have.
In America today double-digit unemployment and crumbling investments have left everyone knowing someone who is struggling. Society says, “Hoard what you have!” because times are tough. If I considered myself the “provider” for my household, I guess their words would sound like good advice, but I’ve come to learn that I’m not.
Where do our financial resources come from? One source: God. God is our provider (cf. 1 Tim 6:17).
Perhaps the clearest Scripture that illustrates the posture of dependence God wants us to have is found in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us today our daily bread” (Mt 6:11). In teaching His disciples (and us) to pray in this manner, Jesus wants us to ask the Father to provide what we need. With faith like little children, we must be people who simply and completely trust God to be our Provider.
This is the critical first step in understanding and practicing Christian generosity. Why? It impacts how we relate to all we have, and what we do with all God provides! Let me explain.
If your giving flows from what you think you provide, it will be limited to the finite supply in your shrinking asset pool or salary that never seems to be enough. I would argue that you would struggle to give sacrificially and miss out on the privilege of imitating the generosity of Christ.
Conversely, if you give from what you realize God has provided, you are set free from the bondage of fear to distribute richly God’s resources to the things that matter to God because His supply is infinite. You empty your wallet or purse realizing God filled it before and can do it again.
You’ve seen people who get this. They care for needy neighbors around them, support the church, give to missionaries, sponsor starving children and the list goes on. They aren’t positioned to do this because they are necessarily “loaded,” but because they know God is!
Want this perspective to sweep through your home and those you serve in your church or ministry? I do, and I’m not alone. Interested in joining the growing movement of leaders who desire to grow in their understanding of biblical stewardship and practice of Christian generosity?
If so, step one in that spiritual journey is trust in God to be your Provider. From there we must model the generosity we want others to grasp. As God supplies resources in the form of seed, let’s sow generously for the glory of God.
Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D. provides spiritual and strategic counsel for ministry leaders for encouraging Christian generosity. To receive his daily Meditations, which are quotes from saints through the centuries linked to biblical stewardship and Christian generosity, visit www.generositymonk.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year at the CLA National Conference in Dallas we are honored to have Dr. Gary G. Hoag leading us in the daily devotionals. We hope you will join us for this annual event April 14-16, 2014. If you haven’t already registered, you can do so today.