It brought me overwhelming joy to read your comments about giving last week. Truly. I was traveling and checking my email at every stop just for the great feeling of connecting with your generous hearts. I loved reading every word that you wrote!
There were are few comments mixed in that made my heart ache, though. These were comments that made me aware that sometimes we give based on misconceptions about godly giving.
I heard you echo something I’ve said many times–“I need to give without expecting anything in return.” I know exactly what you mean. You want to give without mixed motives. You want to give even though there’s nothing in it for you. I agree!
But I believe that sometimes we take that thought too far, and it causes us to give unwisely. Here’s a truth that I believe:
Think about the difference between a gift and an investment. A gift may be given one-way with no expectation of any reward, but investing is done with the express purpose of a return or reward.
Think a little counter-intuitively with me for just a minute. We think of generous giving in terms of not expecting a reward, but I believe that when we give we should always expect a return or reward.
About now you may be thinking, “Where in the world is she going with this?” and you might even be ready to hit the “unsubscribe” button, but hang in there with me for just a few more minutes before you write me off.
First let’s define and separate the terms “giving” and “investing”. Let’s use the word “investing” to express times when we give to an individual or organization to help instead of just celebrating or treating someone.
Giving can be fun, spontaneous, and one-sided. It should be done without expecting a return, but…
Investing should be purposeful and should expect a return or outcome. What kind of outcomes should we expect when we invest in an individual or an organization?
We expect a work to be done in us. My whole blog post will be on this point next week, so hang on tight for this one!
We expect a work to be done in others. I can look back sadly on some times that I haven’t expected this, and I think now that it wasn’t truly godly investing. I’ve given to organizations willy-nilly based on my emotions without asking them to prove that the money was going to good work and that was producing good outcomes. That kind of investing isn’t generous at all. It’s squandering.
I think about times that I’ve given to people just because I thought I should without ever seeing any fruit in their lives. Maybe you’re in those shoes. There’s a family member who needs money from you every month, but they refuse to look for a job. There’s a beloved friend who is always falling short and needing help but always seems to have enough for the next pair of cute shoes. Or another who demands that you’re always there for her but is inevitably scarce when you’re hurting. There’s a child who is happy to cash the check but never has time to say “thank you”. I’m sure you could help me list more examples!
God is full of compassion and mercy forgives us over and over, but in His wisdom, there’s always a natural consequence for our sin or foolishness. This consequence is designed ultimately to teach us so that we don’t come to greater harm. We need to consider this part of God’s character as we invest as well as His generosity.
You can see that I’m not talking about a financial return, a return gift, or effusive thanks, but we should be keeping a look-out for fruit from our giving.
We expect an eternal “payout”. True investing, or godly giving, has divine rewards attached, but unwise investing often forfeits these rewards. Investing reaps abundance.
Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Proverbs 11:24, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”
I want to be quick to say that I’m not peddling prosperity theology. No way! Most often than not these rewards are much richer than dollars. Our “payout” comes in terms of joy from being in God’s will, closeness with Him as we express more of His generous nature, forgiveness that’s in the context of the Luke passage, or a thousand other spiritual blessings that God has to distribute.
Do you see what I mean now? Godly giving is really investing.
This is a fresh way to evaluate our giving rather than pouring our time, talents, and treasure into a black hole of “takers”. Finally let me give you a few questions to ask as you evaluate your present giving:
- Is it consistently draining you instead of building you up? (More on this next week.)
- Do you see fruit in the other’s life and/or whether it’s an individual or an organization? Is it measurable in some way? (If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out the book Measuring What Matters: Accountability and the Great Commission by Dave Stravers.)
- Do you see glimpses of eternity and God’s rewards?
Note: I completely forgot about the giveaway from a couple of weeks ago, so I have two winners to announce today! Ronda (10.25.16 5:54 am), you’re the winner of a copy each of Breaking Up with Perfect and Taming the To-Do List. Courtney (11.4.16 2:32 pm), your’e the winner of Same Kind of Different as Me.
Congratulations to both of you! I’ve sent you each an email, so if you haven’t heard from me, please check your spam folder. I hope you enjoy your books!