Jan30MonJanuary 30, 2017
The car and its driver seemed quite reliable. I was not in any real danger. But, in that moment and overtaken with fear, my mind disconnected from what I knew to be true. Many of us experience the same detachment from reality when it comes to practicing generosity. We know we are invited to give proportionately of what God has entrusted to us, but we are completely paralyzed by fear in acting on our belief. We have a severe case of “generosiphobia.”
Authors Smith and Davidson, in The Paradox of Generosity, conclude: “Living with a perspective of scarcity rather than abundance—that is, from a place of fear—is stressful and inevitably diminishes people’s well-being.”
What fears keep us from being generous with our money? Let’s label them.
Are our fears realistic? Perhaps not. Just like my claustrophobic episode in the back of a hot car, our fear that we won’t have enough may be completely out of touch with reality. According to recent UN research, if we have $500,000 in assets we are in the top one percentile of wealthy adults in the world. Maybe we need a reality check. We believe the Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Philippians (4:19) that “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (NIV),” but our response often contradicts this belief. We worry, which leads us to save and stash away.
Jesus mentions “worry” six times in Matthew 6:25-34 when he talks about God feeding the birds and clothing the flowers. He anticipates our struggle to really trust God with the most basic needs of life.Giving is an expression of our fearlessness. By being generous, we are acknowledging that God is the provider. If we cannot rely on God to look after our needs, the idea of giving is completely irrational.
As a result, our mind conjures up the worst case scenarios so we continue in our tight-fisted ways. What we should really fear is our inability to trust God.
“By giving we receive and by grasping we lose” (Smith and Davidson). Begin by thinking about how much you possess, rather than how much you don’t have. Start small and see how good it feels to give. Let us help you discover that generosity doesn’t have to be scary.
Arnie Friesen is a former stewardship consultant at Abundance Canada. For more information on generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest Abundance Canada office or visit abundance.ca