Many of you have probably heard the quote the Jesus talked more about money than heaven and hell. I am not sure that is particularly helpful but I think the point intended is to remind us that the stewardship of our financial resources is both reflective and symbolic of our obedience.
1Tim. 6:17-19 is an exhortation to those of us with the means to give, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” Giving generously is a matter of discipleship.
Through our giving, we participate in the ministry to which we give and we as givers are the ones who are blessed! Paul praises the Philippians because of their generosity in Phil. 4:14-17,”Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” This verse has made it so much easier (note I did not say easy) to raise funds as a missionary!
Paul says as we sow generously, we will reap generously in 2 Cor 9:6 and following. Why then do Christians not give generously? Matt Bell in a blog post on Sound Mind Investing wrote a blog post today, “Why are we more generous?” He is reviewing the book Passing the Plate and quotes the author as saying that 77% of Protestants who regularly attend church give less than 10% Why is that? Here are four reasons Christians are not generous with their giving from Passing the Plate that Bells cites. I place them here with my own words describing what these reasons mean
- Objective resource constraints—we lack the means to give generously
- Subjective resource constraints—we think we lack the means to give generously (need to save more, build up our retirement, pay off debt etc.).
- Unperceived Needs—we are unaware of legitimate needs.
- Normative ignorance—we do not understand that giving generously is a key element in our life with God.
Next Monday, I will redo a post on how generosity is an antidote to envy.
Debit cards save us from carrying around cash and are less stressful. Well, I am not sure about less stressful. Last time we were home, my wife often asked me, debit or credit and she was referring only to the debit card. I didn’t think there was a difference but now I discover that there are big differences for visa, banks, and the merchants and of course for us!
According to an article by Andrew Martin in the NY Times on Jan 4, merchants pay significantly higher fees when we use our debit cards like credit cards as opposed to when you punch in your pin. Some merchants don’t even make you sign when you are using your debit card as a credit card. Have not figured that one out yet. But, whether you sign or not, punch in a pin or not, the money is coming directly out of your bank account. Better to punch in that pin.
But, according to another article by Terry Cettina on readersdigest.com, debit cards are not protected in the same way as are credit cards. She writes, “Many people wrongly assume that debit cards offer the same protection against fraud as credit cards. But when a debit card is stolen or copied, there’s no grace period while you contest the charges. Your cash has already been electronically zapped from your checking account.” You may be able to get your money back but apparently it will come from the merchant and not the bank issuing the debit cards.
Not only that, but merchants often place a “hold” on your debit card for a minimum amount–Cettina says often there is a $75 hold on gas transactions which may not be removed for a few days. Sounds unfair to me–but she said holds are a “common practice in the “travel and hospitality business.”
So, she suggests that you use credit cards when shopping online or eating out. Or, if you must use your debit card, be sure to key in your pin rather than just swiping your card.
Hope this helps and I welcome any correction or confirmation on these practices.
Maybe I should have bought visa stock when it went public a few years ago! Seems like they have a racket going.
“But more importantly, and the reason why I’m interested in this story, I think it goes to show that fame and fortune alone can’t make you happy. Tiger’s a reported billionaire, at the top of his game and he’s got a host of problems to deal with now.
Let that be a lesson to those of you how think more money is the answer to your happiness.”
That said, an article in the New York Times does tells us that money does indeed bring happiness, even if it doesn’t guarantee it.
Saw this piece about Monkey Economics on Kruse Kronicle. What caught my interest is when they said that they obtained “economic outcomes not through sitting down and negotiation, but through feeling and emotion.” Sounds a little like what we learned about in our counseling and member care seminar last week.
Their conclusion on the broadcast, “It’s the law of supply and demand played out along the neurohormonal pathways that deal with emotion in the monkey brain.”
People are in need all around us. This is an issue for all of us, not just those of us who live in Asia. I can still see the homeless people living under the bridges in Houston. If I am honest, I sometimes avoid those places in which I may encounter those most in need, encounter those begging. My lack of compassion is troubling. Two very challenging posts from John Piper on “Giving to the one who begs from you,” out of Matthew 5:42 do not make me feel any better.
Piper discusses reasons why we would not want to give to beggars: maybe they are being dishonest, use drugs or involved in other sinful behavior; we may not be sure if there is a real need; will we create dependency?
He tests my heart with such radical love. And in my heart I see my selfish, unloving impulses that do not want to part with my money, possessions, time, or convenience for needy or evil people.
Piper points out that He asks us to do this not because of what good may happen in the lives of the people we help but simply because we are sons of our Father in heaven (Mtt 5:45). As Piper says, we show that we are God’s children by “the stunning—some would call foolish—way we show generous kindness toward undeserving evil people—the very kindness we’ve received.”
I am afraid that I too often fail miserably in this call to “radical, gospel generosity.” Pray for me that I might give freely just as I have freely received. Picture below is from buhaypinoy
Some thoughts to reflect on regarding “things” and detachment. Or to use another word: simplicity. From Nouwen email newsletter.
To be able to enjoy fully the many good things the world has to offer, we must be detached from them. To be detached does not mean to be indifferent or uninterested. It means to be nonpossessive. Life is a gift to be grateful for and not a property to cling to.
A nonpossessive life is a free life. But such freedom is only possible when we have a deep sense of belonging. To whom then do we belong? We belong to God, and the God to whom we belong has sent us into the world to proclaim in his Name that all of creation is created in and by love and calls us to gratitude and joy. That is what the “detached” life is all about. It is a life in which we are free to offer praise and thanksgiving.
I am not sure if Mark Steyn originated these words for today’s current generation who will be inheriting the massive debt that the U.S. is currently incurring but I fear that they will fit for those of my grandchildren’s generation and beyond. A glimpse of the gloom Steyn writes about.
We thought you’d say that! God bless the youth of America! We of the Greatest Generation, the Boomers, and Generation X salute you, the plucky members of the Brokest Generation, the Gloomers, and Generation Y, as in “Why the hell did you old coots do this to us?”
Because, as politicians like to say, it’s about “the future of all our children.” And the future of all our children is that they’ll be paying off the past of all their grandparents. At 12 percent of GDP, this year’s deficit is the highest since the Second World War, and prioritizes not economic vitality but massive expansion of government. But hey, it’s not our problem. As Lord Keynes observed, “In the long run we’re all dead.” Well, most of us will be. But not you youngsters, not for a while. So we’ve figured it out: You’re the ultimate credit market, and the rest of us are all pre-approved!