Every week, ministry leaders are planning services, deciding on graphics, songs, sermons, and yes . . . who is going to give the offering talk/appeal/2 second head nod.
How frightening would it be if a teaching team or a weekend service team sat with Jesus planning out a service? You’re preaching and Jesus volunteered himself to talk about “the offering” for the coming weekend.
What would Jesus say if you gave him the mic?
There are some interesting insights that might help us see and step into what Jesus might say. One text, in particular, that is very interesting is Luke 21:1-4.
“Generosity has little to do with money.”
In Luke 21:1-4, Jesus tells a story of what you might think a typical church service looks like. An element, most churches have, is an opportunity for people to give. What isn’t normal is that the wealthy religious people are making fun of this poor widow who gave very little. I have found that Jesus will often help us realign our thinking and show us that “this” is actually about “that.”
I’m not sure why we think people who make the most amount of money will instinctively be the most generous with their money. When I was a teenager, my youth minister would tell me that it’s often the people who made middle-class incomes that would willing to support your mission trip. He was right.
I wonder if Jesus would have church leaders get away from the notion that people will always or only give to a clear and compelling vision?
Yes, I want to give to a clear and compelling vision. I want my money to mean something to someone and I want it have an impact. Selfishly, I want to give to something that is healthy, growing, and making an impact. Our motives are rarely, if ever, 100% pure. It’s fun to be a part of something that is making a difference.
I think Jesus would have us see that that giving is about the heart. If a heart is growing, in its maturity, you will have continual generous givers vs. really pushing hard once or twice a year to give to a project or end of year giving.
Jesus values the heart of generosity more than the checkbook of generosity
“There is generosity at all levels of giving.”
What’s interesting about this text, in Luke 21, is that the religious leaders gave more. However, Jesus ascribes generosity to this poor woman. It doesn’t make sense . . . if you think of generosity in terms of dollars.
The heavy load regular church people carry is this notion that you’re not generous if you don’t give 10% percent. It’s an all or nothing approach. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jesus isn’t calling the wealthy generous. Think about it. I don’t think Jesus would thank a family, for being generous, if they gave 3% of a 80k – 100k household income. It might look generous, but it’s not a generous disciple. Generous doesn’t mean a willingness to give. Generosity means a healthy, growing, and willing heart excited about what God is doing.
The woman who gave 15-20% of her 20k income is called generous. Our generosity is tied to our theology of Jesus. She came to church with heart settled and eager to give because of who she believed Jesus to be. There was something, that Jesus sensed in her, that what she was giving was out of an overflow.
Our generosity is tied to our theology.
“A generous heart is developed, in us, for endless possibilities.”
It’s likely that Jesus might say this because we relate to our giving in Old Testament terms. This is a very sterile, objective, and a check-off the list approach to giving. I don’t really see Jesus talking about giving a certain percentage in the New Testament.
What I do see is Jesus turning water into wine at a really fun wedding! I do see Jesus telling us that the Kingdom of God is more. It’s bigger than what we think. His resources never run out on us . . . even if it’s a need for good wine at a wedding. That may seem like a small thing, but don’t tell the bride.
I also see generosity in the story of the prodigal son where the father gives the son his portion of the inheritance. When the son spends it all and is down on his luck, he returns to his Father. We can’t ever really out give God can we? We can’t really take the blessings of our salvation and kind of do our own thing and become a better God or provider than God.
Generosity is an ongoing conversation. The New Testament seems to replace percentages with conversations and relationships.
We can’t really take the blessings of our salvation and kind of do our own thing and become a better God or provider than God.
“A generous heart will always outgrow an income.”
A ministry friend recently told me a story about wondering if he would have enough money to marry his girlfriend. After his girlfriend told him that they didn’t have enough money, he took that as a challenge. He went home and created a budget. To his surprise, his girlfriend held the same position. He didn’t have a plan for giving to their local church. He was surprised to say the least.
For a while, it felt Old Testament. It felt like something he had to do. Over time, God grew his heart and not only are they generous givers, they have it in their budget to help others whom might be in need.
If we limit our generosity to a percentage, we can miss out on all the fun of helping others in need, surprising a friend, or sending someone a gift card “just because.”
If given the mic, I’m sure Jesus would say more. He would offend and comfort us. What I am learning is that there is a story to be told and experienced and lives to be changed. I do know that if we are not generous, we don’t have a shot at seeing His kingdom come.