Here’s a money quiz. 4 quick questions about the average American household.
How much credit card debt does the average American household owe? $7,000. How much car loan debt? $28,000. How much student loan debt? $48,000.
We have become so accustomed to spending more than we earn. Debt is just a way of life. I’m not arguing against debt or declaring it evil. It can certainly be appropriate.
Rather, here’s me point: we’re quite comfortable living beyond our means. We don’t have a problem assuming we will be able to handle debt in the future, making payment after payment. We live beyond our means.
Yet, God has not promised us the next paycheck. Nowhere in the Bible does God promise the college graduate a high-paying job. There are exactly zero divine promises that would encourage us to be comfortable living beyond our means.
But what about giving in a way that seems beyond our means? We call that sacrificial giving.
Now, the cynical sinner in us would love to write off the topic of sacrificial giving as the greedy church asking for too much, too often, from too many of the wrong people. But hold on.
In the Bible, we see that sacrificial gifts were never made under compulsion, but out of cheerfulness; never out of fear, but out of faith; never out of obligation, but in response to an opportunity provided by God.
Don’t you want to be a person full of cheerfulness and faith, who seeks and seizes opportunities from God? Then lean into the practice of sacrificial giving.
Sacrificial giving is giving in a way that, to human reason, stretches us beyond our means, perhaps even foolishly. The apostle Paul taught about it by pointing to the sacrificial giving of some Christians he knew.
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Corinthians 8:2,3).
So there are three levels of giving. 1) Less than your ability. 2) According to your ability. 3) Beyond your ability. Which one involves God the most?
Park this teaching in your heart and mind, and we will take it for a drive on Monday.
PRAYER: Dear God, part of me wants to be selfish and greedy, keeping for myself what you want me to give away to others and you. You have given me an ability to give, and you even make it possible for me to give beyond my ability. Encourage my faith to trust in what that means for me this week. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Meditate in prayer today, reflecting on your giving to church and charities. Would you describe it as less than your ability, according to your ability, or beyond your ability? Ask God in prayer if your evaluation is correct.