An Irrational Financial Act

Of all the things we can do with money, giving it away seems completely, utterly irrational, doesn’t it? After all, we work hard for what we earn. And after paying all the bills and putting a little aside for the future, there just isn’t anything left to give, right?

Well, it turns out that generosity is an essential part of a financial life that works well. Here are three reasons why.

Generosity is part of our design

The Bible says we were each made in God’s image, and since God is endlessly generous, that means generosity is woven into the fabric of our spiritual DNA.

When we don’t give, or give only token amounts, or give from a sense of guilt or obligation, we deprive ourselves of one of life’s great joys. But when we give generously with grateful hearts, we live in concert with our design. It’s no wonder that researchers who study human happiness have found that generous people are generally happier and find life more meaningful than those who are not generous.

Generosity reminds us of our priorities

The Bible says,

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” – Matthew 6:21

I remember a time when my wife, Jude, wanted to give some money to a friend doing missionary work in a country that I wasn’t sure I could find it on a map. Up to that time, I never thought of that country. It wasn’t on my radar screen at all.

However, after we started sending some money there, I noticed every time the country was in the news. And I took great interest in each letter Jude’s friend wrote about her work.

My heart went there because some of our money was going there.

Giving regularly and generously to support God’s work in the world is a very powerful way to keep our hearts focused on God.

Generosity leads to blessings

My friend Michael was in the alley in back of his home one morning when he saw a homeless man picking through the garbage. Prompted by a message he heard in church the previous weekend, Michael struck up a conversation with the man. Then he offered him some money.

As he reached into his pocket, Michael was dismayed to discover that all he had was a fifty-dollar bill. That was a lot more than he intended to give. But since he had already committed to giving the man some money, he gave it anyway. Clearly, it was a lot more than the man expected as well, because when he saw how much money it was he cried.

Later that morning Michael was at a building supply store purchasing materials for some renovation work he was doing. As he waited in a long line, a store employee approached him and unexpectedly gave him a certificate for 10 percent off his purchase. Michael was the only one in the line to receive a certificate. When the cashier rang up his purchase, it came to $490. Michael was stunned. The 10 percent savings covered all but $1 of what he gave away that morning.

Now he was the one with tears in his eyes. Out of the many customers in line, why was he the one given a discount? Why would he get back almost exactly what he had given away that morning? He doesn’t know for sure, but all he could think of was that maybe it was God’s way of expressing his pleasure at seeing Michael’s kindness toward the man in the alley, and encouraging him to continue down the path of financial generosity.

Giving from the heart

I am very confident that giving in order to get something from God is nothing less than an affront to God. I want nothing to do with the prosperity gospel.

Biblical generosity is motivated by gratitude; it’s a response to God’s generosity.

Still, many passages of Scripture clearly state that there are blessings that flow from generosity, such as Proverbs 11:24:

“One man gives freely yet gains even more. Another withholds unduly but comes to poverty.”

Some people trace material blessings to their giving. Others experience blessings related to their health, relationships, sense of peace, and more. Still others find it easier to live within their means and experience financial freedom when they start giving.

It seems irrational. It doesn’t make sense on a spreadsheet. It’s one of those hard-to-explain but impossible-to-deny realities that there is a link between generosity fueled by a grateful heart and blessings. We were simply designed to live generously, and our lives work best when we live as we were designed to live.

Those are three of the key factors that motivate our generosity: We were designed to live generously, doing so reminds us of our priorities, and it leads to blessings. How about you? What motivates you to live generously?

If you haven’t done so already, why not subscribe to this blog? Twice a week, you’ll receive ideas and encouragement for using money well.

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2 Responses to An Irrational Financial Act

  1. Connie Grotenhuis March 26, 2024 at 4:35 PM #

    I find that blessings I derive from giving far outweigh the blessings I get from receiving. I recently became aware of an organization that gives Bibles and Christian literature to prisoners. I am very impressed with that and am endeavoring to make that part of my regular giving. I think if the written word through the work of the Holy Spirit can change lives then I want to be a part of that.

    I think when we are willing the Lord will open our eyes to see how we can be of benefit to others. That shifts our focus off of ourselves and onto the needs of others.

    • Matt Bell March 27, 2024 at 10:25 AM #

      Amen to all of that, Connie! One of the greatest joys is joining God in some of His life-changing, eternity-shaping work.

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