Are you prepared to be generous? That sounds kinda funny, doesn’t it? Usually, I tend to think of generosity as a spontaneous thing.
As I’ve grown older, I find that generosity is becoming more and more important to me. And it’s been interesting for me to balance because up until a few months ago, I was in debt and hadn’t ever had a full time job. Unfortunately, that also meant that I couldn’t be as generous as I wanted to be. I still gave a tithe at church, and would give a few dollars here or there, or buy a friend’s meal on occasion, but I always wished I could do more.
A few weeks ago, I was reading my Bible, and was struck by the intentionality prescribed toward giving.
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
1 Corinthians 16:2 (ESV)
For a bit of background, Paul was regularly taking money from one church and bringing it to help with other churches’ needs. Typically, when Paul was getting ready to leave for a church in need, the local church would collect donations. And that was good.
But here, Paul is exhorting them to give preemptively. Everyone knew that a need would arise somewhere, sometime. Why not plan to give? By giving a little bit over time, when the need actually arose, people would be able to give more generously and abundantly to meet the need than they would otherwise.
I also like that Paul doesn’t say how much to set aside. He just says to make sure it’s proportional to your income. It’s more important to set the giving habit in place than to hit a certain amount given. Once the habit is there, it’s easy to scale appropriately.
When the proportions are right, giving generously should hurt a little. It shouldn’t ruin your life (probably shouldn’t be giving away all that you have), but neither should it be unfelt. I try to give a little bit more than I’m comfortable with, just enough to make me think. It means that I slow down on my savings goals a little, and I don’t get to eat out or go to the movies as often. Ultimately, it means that I don’t get to simply blow past it.
Giving will always be a part of my life. It’s part of my value system, and it’s part of who God created me to be. Why not set up a system so that I can give generously?