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27 October 2017

Good question: should we give more than we keep?

Good question: should we give more than we keep?

The ultimate challenge. Most of us have moments, even sustained periods, when we give our all - in money, time and commitment to causes. But how much do we hold back to stay comfortable; and what does God ask of us? Laurence Singlehurst, previously national director of Youth With A Mission, and now director of Cell UK explores for us…

Giving, the secret power of the universe. This is a big statement but I believe it's true. At the heart of the universe is a God who gives, shown by creation itself and His love expressed through Jesus. Giving is at the heart of all that is powerful and wonderful.

Working as a live-by-faith missionary for over 25 years, I saw and experienced amazing giving.

A knock on my door one day saw a delivery man with an expensive home computer. This was certainly not in our budget, and I thought he had made a mistake. No mistake the man said. As I stood there I remembered what a friend had said: "Laurence, whatever I give my children outside of their schooling I will give to yours." For the next 20 years, this is exactly what he and his wife did, starting with a home computer and many other gifts – simply amazing. 

We know from the words of Jesus that 'Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.' (Matthew 10:39 NIV) 

This is a challenge to our values. Psychologists tell us if people are going to embrace a new way of living they need to believe new things and have new values that lead to different actions. We can be challenged to give but have we embraced the values behind it?

It becomes not just an action but the fruit of who we are. I knew a family so dedicated to missions that they gave away what must have been half their disposable income every year. It could easily have gone on another house, another car, but it did not. When thinking about how to embrace giving deeper think about:

Generosity – this is at the heart of the issue; we have a generous God and we need to believe this value. We don't give because we are wealthy, we give because we are generous. Let's demonstrate generosity that impacts us all.

I asked a friend if they might consider giving to a new charity. The administrator of the charity rang me and said "Your friend has given but not the sum you were thinking of – he has given a lot more." Amazed and humbled, I called my friend who said: "I started to write the cheque and God challenged me to be generous."

Stewardship - to be able to give expenditure must be less than income so there is money available. How big should that space be? Generosity as a guide not a rule. It is easy to tell the stories of large sums of money, but the personal support that I received over many years, was of smaller amounts being given by people who did not have a lot. Those gifts of £10 and £20 were as sacrificial as some of the big sums. 

Relationships - we may have friends who are involved in a charity working with the poor here and overseas, or we may have a relationship with our local church. These relationships give direction to our giving. The challenge for us all when thinking about giving more than we keep, is to prayerfully reflect on our own values, to consciously embrace generosity, stewardship and relationships.

Let these key values become part of us to an even greater measure and we will be different people. As we do this these values will become a way of life. Not just in terms of giving money, but also by being a good neighbour, giving our time, our care and our friendship.

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