2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." As with any decision in our lives, our choices can either pull us towards God or away from God. But have you ever considered giving as a spiritual discipline? In the same way, reading the Word or prayer is a habit that improves your spiritual health; giving can also be a choice that, when done regularly, can reap benefits not only to us but to the people and organizations to whom we give.
Giving Can Be Tough
But in today's economy, that can be tough, especially in a marriage. The effects of Inflation have skyrocketed food prices, gas, and other necessities. It is easy to tighten our belts to survive the storm rather than hold our possessions loosely. Our children and homes still have expenses that must be met. Good stewardship requires us to meet their needs and our needs, too.
The Acts 2 church, however, gave generously to everyone despite their own needs, and the Lord blessed them in numeric and spiritual growth as a result:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the people's favor. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The church in Acts focused on the needs of others, and in so doing, God multiplied their number, which meant their needs would get met, too. Despite the ominous threat of persecution, they gave all they had, sacrificing their creature comforts and luxuries for the sake of others. Because they did so, they never worried about food, shelter, or water because God took care of them in His provision.
In a marriage, there are expenses, too. But when you give to others, God will also care for you. Here are six ways you can give generously as a couple:
1. Check Your Attitude
As the above Scripture in Acts describes, not only should we give, but also give generously. This doesn't mean, however, that because you don't feel like giving, you shouldn't. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, "everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." God allows us to choose to give or to withhold his blessings only for ourselves. Where is your attitude when it comes to giving? Do you give freely or keep your wealth piling up in the bank?
2. Budget It
Just like you distribute your earnings to pay bills and meet basic expenses, make giving a budget item that is an essential part of expenditures. If you don't know where to give to, start with your local church. So many churches are struggling to recover from the pandemic; they can't meet bills to pay mortgages or other building expenses. Many are closing because they have a deficit from which they can't recuperate. When you give to your local church, you are helping them spread the gospel message by giving to overseas missions and local people who go out into their communities and meet their needs.
3. Be Passionate about It
If you give to a charity instead of the local church, donate to a cause you are most passionate about. Take a day and spend some quiet time with the Lord. Figure out where your passions lie. Do you have a heart to stop sex trafficking? Put food in local people's pantries? Give clean water to a third-world country? Figure out what sect of the population you think your funds might benefit the most and give generously. We will never know on earth what our actions done both in secret and public will do to make this world a better place. Heaven may also be filled with people whose lives you saved because you gave generously to a worthy cause.
4. Obey Scripture
Scripture says much about our obligation as Christians to give to those less fortunate. Jesus surrounded his entire ministry around helping meet the needs of those around him. The prophet Isaiah 58 says it best: "and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."
When we give generously to others, God promises to take care of us in return. It doesn't mean to give a little, but to give sacrificially, knowing God will see our deeds and honor us by meeting our needs; with God, there's no need to withhold our wealth, but rather give it away, knowing God will distribute it as He sees fit. He sees needs we don't. Give what you can, and God will do the rest.
5. Sacrifice It
Giving is easier than you think. But often, it is how we allocate our funds that make the difference. Take a hard look at your finances. Where are you overspending? Are you eating out too much? Make a lifestyle change by stopping all the extra takeout and instead make your meals or lunch at home. Instead of multiple streaming apps, choose to invest your money into one app or vow to scrap cable altogether. By watching less TV, you will be able to use your money to give to more places (and maybe spend more time as a couple in the long run.) By making some minor changes to your budget, those small expenditures could add up to big bucks.
6. Divide It
After making changes to your lifestyle, if you still feel it's a stretch to give generously, pledge to divide the cost rather than giving it out of one paycheck. For example, if you both work, vow to give $25 of each paycheck to make your $50 contribution rather than taking $50 out of one check. An old-school method of saving money for a rainy day is to label a set of envelopes for different aspects of your budget. Purchase a budgeting book and ensure you are only spending the amount the financial expert says to use towards that bill. Label an envelope as "giving" and take the cash out of the bank from each of your checks. Put it aside, so it doesn't get spent on other areas.
Giving to charity reaps benefits for you and those you donate. When you give to others, it helps your emotional health by giving you peace in knowing God will care for you because you give to others. It also benefits your spiritual health because by obeying God's commands, He promises to be the ultimate provider. The demonstration of your faith in Him moves you into deeper intimacy. Best of all, the most significant benefit is to the charities because as ones dedicating their life to helping others, you move them one step closer to realizing their dreams.
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