Ask Chuck: How to Give and Save on a Budget
Giving is a problem for me. I’m playing catch-up for retirement and fear that giving will prevent my having enough for the future. How can I balance my desire to give with my need to be saving more?
In a Conundrum
Dear In a Conundrum,
Many American Christians find themselves in a similar dilemma; a lack of savings has caused a lack of generosity. Thank you for your transparent question as it goes right to the heart of the matter for all of us – the intersection of fear and giving.
Fear is a tactic of our enemy. He uses it to keep us in bondage and deprive us of joy.
It is common to worry about job security and whether we can pay the bills. We live with uncertainties, so we ask ourselves: will we be able to afford the cost of medical services, assisted living, or help our children with higher education? How will negative interest rates affect portfolios? Will the stock market crash?
There’s a growing mania for buffering ourselves against any possible future event. This causes us to believe that giving will bring harm to our financial well being and erodes our faith. But unless we depend on God, we’ll be like the man who built his house upon sand:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25 ESV)
Our faith must be rooted in Jesus Christ, not in material security. A stock pile of money, no matter the amount, can be substituted for the sand while Jesus is the rock in this illustration.
Fear of the future can drive us to many other problems as well:
- Anxiety and sleep issues
- Unhealthy frugality
- Financial infidelity
- Marital stress
- Separation from God
So, I ask a simple question that our late founder, Larry Burkett, would often ask: Do you really trust God, or do you just say that you trust God? And I would add, can you willingly set aside your fear in order to obey what He says about giving?
James shouts a clear warning against locking ourselves inside the fortress of wealth. He wants us to overcome fear with faith and make giving to His Kingdom our top priority.
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. (James 5:1-6 ESV)
Just as the love of money, not money itself, is the root of all kinds of evil, James is not saying that it is wrong to possess wealth.
But, as stewards, we have a responsibility to manage God’s resources. We either become rich towards self, piling up treasure in our fortresses of false security or we become rich towards Him, the only real source of protection. It is the war waged within every soul.
If you struggle with giving, literally being rich towards God, maybe you are controlled by money and fear of your financial future. Remember, the Bible is full of admonitions to give. It’s an act of obedience that demonstrates money has no power over us.
Maybe overwhelming credit card debt is what’s preventing you from giving right now. The burden and strain you feel from your debts can rob you of the margin to give generously and live with freedom. If you need help, I want to encourage you to contact Christian Credit Counselors. They’ve been our trusted partners for years and can help you pay off your credit cards the right way.
In his book Set Apart: Calling a Worldly Church to a Godly Life, Kent Hughes says: “Every time I give, I declare that money does not control me. Perpetual generosity is a perpetual de-deification of money.”
Giving is God’s plan to guard our hearts from the love of money and to put our faith into practice. We declare that our trust is in Him, not in our bank account.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24 ESV)
Fight with focused determination to win the battle within your soul. Life here is temporary, but what we give has eternal value. Consider Paul’s words to Timothy:
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV)
I hope you will choose to give this week. And, begin storing up treasure in heaven! God will take care of you one day at a time. Your faith will ultimately prove of greater value than any amount of silver or gold you could have ever saved on earth.
Originally published on the Christian Post, October 18, 2019