Intentional Giving

Summer is a great time of year. Backyard barbecues, running through the sprinklers, feeling warm breezes on bare arms and legs—most people claim summer as their favorite time of year. But if you’re trying to run a ministry, or meet a church budget, summer is a time of scarcity. People on vacation aren’t home to make donations or mail checks, and we rarely put something in the offering when we’re just a visitor somewhere else. Ministries that run on donations know that summers make them tighten their belts, so they send out scads of donation appeals. My mailbox is full of them.

Being on a limited income, there’s no way we can send money to everyone who asks. (When Jesus told the disciples to do exactly that—see Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:30—I often wonder if he had our era of mass communications in mind!) The problem is that they’re all worthwhile causes. How can I possibly choose between puppy-eyed orphans, rescued slaves, starving families, unborn children, our local homeless shelter or food bank, refugees, and entire people groups without any knowledge of Jesus? Indecision leaves me paralyzed.

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Spontaneous Generosity

Giving away money should be fun.

In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Cheerful could be translated hilarious. Yet, how often do we end up with a big smile when we drop our tithes and offerings into the plate? Most of the time, we give because it’s what we do as believers. We don’t put all that much thought into it. In fact, I know a couple who arranged for their tithe to be automatically deducted from their bank account. While that certainly simplifies things, it somehow lacks the personal involvement and excitement I believe God desires.

At the beginning of every year, my husband, Pete, and I sit down to figure out our giving for the next twelve months. We list all the ministries we want to support, starting with our local church. Then, we look at our projected income and budget. Of course, things can change, but you have to start somewhere.

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