To kick of my budget boot camp series, I want to talk about something that you might not think is very compatible with the idea of a budget, saving money, and getting out of debt quickly. I want to talk about giving your money away.
As you read this, remember- Mike and I are not wealthy people. We are not making a whole lot of money right now. In fact, I’m pretty sure we qualify at the federal poverty level. We also probably qualify for every possible excuse in the book not to give. But you know what we’ve discovered? There is power in giving, and you really can’t afford not to give! Did I just step on some toes? Let me explain…
Dave Ramsey talks a lot about how his Baby Steps are designed not just to get you out of debt, but to actually change your mindset toward money. He says 90% of gaining and keeping financial freedom is about our attitude and behavior, and that real wealth can only be built when there is a heart level change.
I think that is true, and in fact, I think that is true in just about every area of life! The truth, when it is allowed to settle into your heart, will set you free.
Here is our story about how we have learned the secret power of giving:
A couple of years ago Mike and I heard a sermon about how the Lord can release power through finances. The sermon highlighted some amazing stories of how God used extraordinary circumstances to prove His sovereignty over our money.
In the end Mike and I were convicted to start living a lifestyle that reflects the truth that nothing is our own. Even more than our desire to become DEBT FREE, we desire to become extravagant givers. We don’t do it perfectly by any means; we’re still on the journey of learning what it means to really surrender everything, including our finances, to the Lord. But we’ve made some concentrated decisions concerning our money to work towards that goal of becoming extravagant givers.
You know what? Without this encounter with Jesus at the heart level there are several ways this journey to becoming debt free could become a god in our life:
- We could become enslaved to the idea of becoming debt free, forgetting that God is the author and creator of this desire within us.
- We could become worshippers of our budget, trying to “please” it monthly by getting it perfectly right.
- We could become followers of the religion of great wealth, letting our lives slip away as we chase more and more and more money and the “security” that it tells you it will bring.
- We could even become prostitutes of giving, giving and giving and giving as a way to validate ourselves and make ourselves feel good.
Whoa. May that never happen.
However, with that in our minds, we prayerfully consider our budget, and we prayerfully consider ways that we can be extravagant givers, even when it seems we have nothing to offer.
I love 2 Corinthians 8 where Paul is talking about the Macedonian church, for whom “in the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (vs. 2). He exhorts the Corinthian church to, “excel in this grace of giving” (vs.7b). It really is a grace, isn’t it?
I think one of the main reasons we are commanded to be givers is because it does two things to our hearts:
- It teaches us to not count on the “security” of money and gives us a practical way to exercise our faith to that end.
- It forces us to be dependent on one another, and ultimately on God.
By supporting missionaries we, in an act of faith on both sides, commit to allow ourselves to become funnels of God’s finances. God doesn’t need us to be extravagant givers, but He gives us this awesome chance to become the blessed vessels by which He blesses others. Oh, and it guarantees us a few extra-diligent prayer warriors when things get a little tight financially. 🙂
On the other side, we have also learned that our neediness (and our public admittance of that neediness), has allowed others in the Body of Christ to become the blessed vessels whereby God can meet our needs. This week we received an anonymous $50 gift card to Wal Mart which will cover almost half our groceries this month! We also were so blessed by two good friends who opened up their home to us for a night, watched over our sweet daughter while we went to the house of prayer, fed us a rich dinner and breakfast, and nourished our weary souls with encouragement.
Those and the many, many others who have been the hands and feet of Christ to us are racking up blessings in heaven, and we are learning firsthand just how connected we are and are meant to be. God is so smart, isn’t he?
Tomorrow I am going to continue this post with some practical ways that we have learned to give generously. I want to share what we personally have committed to, albeit rather imperfectly at times. I hope that it encourages and inspires you, wherever you are on your journey to freedom.
How have you learned to give generously? How have you encountered freedom at the heart level? Let’s run with perseverance the race marked for us, and let the truth come set us free!
Go to: My Budget Boot Camp Day 2