‘Tis the season! Many churches are in the midst of providing opportunities for us to make a commitment to God through the church as we estimate our giving for the coming year. For some, this is a time to reflect on all of the gifts that we have received from God and to prayerfully discern what percentage of our financial blessings we will return to God, the giver of all good gifts. For others, this may cause some sort of anxiety, stress and sometimes even rejection and anger. Why is this?
In Bishop Robert Schnase’s book Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving; we are reminded that “Giving helps us become what God wants us to be. Giving is not merely about the church’s need for money but about the Christian’s need to grow in generosity. Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit, a sign of our spiritual growth. God uses our giving to change the world for God’s purposes, and God uses our giving to reconfigure our interior lives and to change us!”
I have recently reflected on people who I know to be generous in all sorts of ways. As I reflect on their character, it makes me want to be more like them. Generosity is not a gift that can be acquired without actually practicing. I suspect that many generous people may have started as one who gives because they were taught that it’s what good, faithful people do. There may or may not have been joy in the initial practice, but over time as we give and reflect on our blessings, it makes us want to give more and we are able to grow into doing so cheerfully. As we give, God reconfigures our interior life and we become more Christ-like.
Even if you are not a part of a church that encourages making a commitment as to how much you estimate giving in the following year, I encourage you to enter into a time of prayerful discernment anyway, and make a commitment to God. ALL that we have is a gift from God. Let us open our hearts to allow God to lead us in how we are cheerfully being called to give.
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Claire – Giving as a Spiritual Practice
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