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If it doesn’t feel a little bit like dying, then it’s probably not good.
Those words have been ringing in my ears over the past month. I heard them while watching a video on adoption; the man being interviewed was talking about the challenges that came with adopting a child with special needs.
Was it hard? The question was asked.
The answer for him was an emphatic yes. In many ways, it felt like dying. Like saying “no” to certain dreams, expectations, ideals, and personal comforts.
And that’s how he knew it was right and good and worthy of pursuit. Because, though it was difficult, it was also very rewarding. It kind of sounds counterintuitive, right? But it’s true.
When it feels like dying, it’s probably worth pursuing.
In the Bible, Jesus said that if anyone wanted to follow him, that person must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him (Luke 9:23). This language is so common in Christianity that its radical nature is often overlooked.
To follow Jesus means to say “no” to what comes naturally, to what feels good or comfortable. Why is that?
The short answer is it’s because we’re naturally rebellious toward God. In other words, when we pursue the opposite of what God has said is a good idea, we’re rebelling against what’s right and good and worthy of pursuit.
So I’ve been asking myself this question: How am I dying to my own wrongheaded desires? What am I saying “no” to that will allow me to say “yes” to something God has in store for me? What drastic measures am I taking? What am I sacrificing in each area of my life?
When Life Happens
A few weeks ago, our furnace gave up the ghost. It was pretty sad, especially when my husband and I started getting estimates on replacing it. I’m pretty sure I threw up in my mouth a little bit when they told me the numbers.
I’m sorry…you mean, like…dollars? Isn’t the satisfaction of a job well done enough for you? How about if my toddler pays you in smiles and Hot Wheels instead?
I looked at our finances and wondered what things we could cut out in order to offset the cost. And you know what came to mind first?
Cut the giving.
When Giving Hurts
We’ve all been there. There are always a thousand reasons not to be generous with what we’ve been given. And honestly, most of those reasons seem pretty legit.
I’m a student, I don’t have a regular income, I’ll give later when I make more and have more stability.
I’m a parent, my children take all my regular income. I’ll give later when I’m not surrounded by tiny moochers.
I kind of need to eat this week. Or pay that doctor bill. Or replace that furnace. I’ll give later.
Later, later, later.
Why Giving Matters
We humans are experts at justifying whatever we want to do. Heck, we can probably even find out-of-context Bible verses to backup any of our desires, even the worst ones. But if the Bible tells us again and again to trust God with all of our hopes, dreams, and desires (like in Proverbs 3:5,6), then shouldn’t this apply to our bank accounts as well?
The Bible is full of challenges to trust God with our money. Jesus actually talks about what we should do with our money more than any other subject in the New Testament.
So I want to offer three reasons that giving—financial giving—ought to be a regular part of every Christian’s life.
1. Giving is an Eternal Investment
As Christians, we know that this world is not all there is. Scripture is constantly pointing ahead toward heaven, our true home. Because of this, we are intentional about where we put our money in this life. We don’t maintain extravagant lifestyles because we know that no material things we have will even matter after death. We make investments that will outlast ourselves. We give to our local church and support local and foreign ministries because we want to fuel the work of meeting practical needs and, most especially, telling people the good news about Jesus.
2. Giving is an Act of Obedience
If we look throughout scripture, there are no exception clauses for giving. You’ll never read, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, unless, of course, one’s furnace needs replacing.”
Instead, scripture makes a direct connection between giving and God being glorified. We are called to give even when it doesn’t seem to make financial sense. Giving when it’s hard is not only an act of obedience, it’s an act of trust. It’s saying, “This might not make a whole lot of sense to me right now, but I know God will provide—for me and through me.”
How awesome is it that our obedience in generosity is a tool that God uses to advance his kingdom? Check out the promise of 2 Corinthians 9:10,11:
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
In other words, God will give us what we need so that we can continue blessing others with our generosity—for the ultimate purpose of advancing the gospel and bringing glory to God. The more we give, the more we are able to keep giving.
3. Giving is a Little Like Dying
Giving sacrificially hurts. And guess what? It should. A great example of this is in 2 Samuel 24. King David was preparing to make a sacrifice to God because of sin in his life. The space and animals David needed in order to complete the sacrifice were offered to him free of charge. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? But look at David’s response: “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”
David knew that making such a sacrifice would really be no sacrifice at all unless he had to give up something for it. And when you think about it, this makes perfect sense. When we love someone, we’re willing to do hard things and make sacrifices because we realize there is something more important at stake than our personal desires or comforts.
When my son was born, I left a job I loved so I could start another job I love as a full-time mom. But you’d better believe that choice felt a lot like part of me was dying. And many days, it still hurts. But I know and trust that God is using my investments now to teach my son and daughter how to follow Christ. And isn’t that a sacrifice worth making?
God Always Provides
But we can’t give sacrificially on our own. Thankfully God has provided a way for us to follow him, despite our best efforts to rebel. God was the ultimate sacrificial giver when he gave his very life for ours. That’s good news! That’s the gospel!
Jesus, though he deserved all the riches and rewards in the world, gave up everything (even his own life) so that we could have his riches and rewards, instead. He gave sacrificially first.
And when we believe in his sacrifice, and trust that it can apply to our lives, that enables us to give sacrificially ourselves. Now we can give sacrificially because Jesus first gave sacrificially for us
If Jesus didn’t hold anything back from us, then why would we try to hold something back from God, including our money?
A Final Challenge
You may have heard that GPCC has set a goal of raising $200,000 by December 31st of this year. The number of clients we’ve seen from 2016 to 2017 has increased by over 35%. God has blessed us with growth, and we want to keep moving forward.
This goal that we’ve set is so crucial to that growth. We believe that God is giving us a voice in Greensboro to reach women and men facing unplanned pregnancy. And we know that he will provide what we need.
In light of this, I’m asking you to consider what kind of sacrifice you could make to help us reach this goal. Consider what you could say “no” to in order to say “yes” in advancing our mission and ultimately the gospel.
Scripture says that each person should, “Give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).
This is all we are asking. Give what you’ve decided and give joyfully.
Here’s a final thought on giving from C.S. Lewis:
I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little.
If you want to learn more about the Care Center’s current vision for 2018 and how your gift can help fuel the mission, head on over to gsocarecenter.org/endofyear.
We hope you’ll consider partnering with us as we seek to share the sacrificial love of Jesus with the city of Greensboro.
Mary Holloman is the Communications Assistant at GPCC. She has a ruggedly handsome husband, two ridiculously cute kiddos, and an unfortunate weakness for Diet Mountain Dew. You can read more from her at her blog, AllMySpringsBlog.com.
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