I was raised with the idea that ‘money doesn’t make you happy, but it does help’. You don’t have to be rich, but having enough money really does make life easier.
It means that if the washing machine breaks, it’ll be all right because you’ve saved up for that. It means that if your laptop dies, you don’t need to panic because your bank balance will tell you you’re all right.
I was thinking about that mindset after Sunday’s sermon. On Sunday, the glorious truth that jumped off the pages of John’s gospel is that Jesus is the one who truly keeps us safe. He is the great I AM who saved us from the ultimate danger of death. And so true safety is found in him and him alone!
That has amazing implications for my attitude towards money; I can risk being more generous to others than feels safe because Jesus always, always keeps me safe. It’s Jesus who tells me I’ll be all right if my laptop dies, not my bank balance. Jesus has wonderfully freed me to love extravagantly! Not recklessly, but with a right risk.
This is a truth I was first convicted of a few years ago as a student. At the time, I wasn’t really giving financially to church or to any other charity. I figured that was all right because I was a student, living off borrowed money. I’d start thinking through my giving once I actually had money to think about.
But then I realised that there will always be something to keep me from giving – buying a new laptop, paying off student loans, repaying the mortgage, building a pension, saving for the kids, and then for the grandkids, and then probably still more student loans to pay off. It will always be a risk to be generous. So I started praying about my giving. Considering my obsession with being comfortable, it seemed right to always give slightly more than I felt was comfortable. To always take a right risk.
So the next Sunday, I intentionally made sure I gave £4 in the weekly offering. That felt like a lot to me. But it also felt right to trust God that I’d still be fine. And do you know what? By God’s providing grace, I was much more than fine. When I was home the weekend after, my mum randomly gave me £50. She’d never done that before and has never done it since. But she did that weekend. It was such a wonderful, wonderful confirmation of God that he would provide for me.
I don’t have to be stingy and provide for myself. I get to step out in faith, trusting that God will make it work. Of course, it doesn’t always happen in such a visible way. But that was my first little step, confirmed by God’s big grace. It was the beginning of me trusting Jesus rather than money to keep me safe.
I’d love to gently challenge you, as I have challenged myself this week. How are you thinking about your giving? Does it feel comfortable and safe? Or does it feel rightly risky, like you’re trusting Jesus rather than your bank balance? And you can apply it broader as well, generosity is also about our time, our homes and our stuff. As Christians, we are free to love generously because Jesus keeps us safe. It feels so scary in the moment. But Jesus has proven himself to be trustworthy.