Giving More Without Spending More
- Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Once upon a time, some crazy friends of mine in South Africa decided to take a road trip. As in, a roooaaad trip. Two couples packed up a Land Rover and a Land Cruiser and trekked overland for nearly six months, crossing borders all the way from Cape Town to Kenya and back again.
During their journey through the African continent, they visited several missionaries – some friends, and others they had never met before. Through these visits, they were convicted by the need that exists amongst those serving the Lord, often in relation to lack of resources and funding.
The main question in their minds as they traveled was, “Why should we live with so much, when those we want to serve on the ground and on the front line must struggle with so little?”
They began to think, “If only we, those of us blessed with jobs and money, could spend our resources differently, with a constant thought for the Gospel and the needs of God’s people, we could potentially free up so much that could be used for the eternal good.”
So they started to talk about how they could tweak their own lifestyles to better advance the gospel in the trenches of on-the-ground missions – and this is what they came up with:
"A group of us would go out every Friday night for dinner at a local restaurant. Nothing flashy, just some good food and time together. When we started questioning how we could spend our money differently to raise funds for missionary work, we agreed that instead of going out for dinner every Friday night, we could maybe go out one Friday a month, and then go to someone’s house for egg on toast on the other Friday nights. Thus, without changing much, and without spending more money, we could save money for God’s kingdom. This small sacrifice is a reflection of our commitment to Christ, and to those out in the mission field in need of our support. The idea is not to spend more money, but simply to spend our money differently. So nothing really changed – Fridays remained non-flashy, food was still good (sometimes better), and we still spent time together. The upside, though, was that we now had money to give back to God.”
They pitched the idea to more friends, and thus birthed the Egg on Toast Fund – a fund where people contribute the cash they have ‘saved’ through lifestyle changes, and the money is divided to support designated missionaries each month. In its first year of existence, the Egg on Toast fund supported four missionary families – in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Cape Town – on a monthly basis.
The challenge to live differently in order to give more has taken shape in various forms for the different people involved.
Besides having egg on toast with friends, here are some more lifestyle ideas generated and put into practice by those participating in the Egg on Toast fund:
- Riding a bicycle or running to work and using the money saved on gas to put into the fund
- Inviting a friend over for coffee instead of going out for coffee
- Using secondhand car parts instead of new parts
What simple changes could you make in your own life to have more money available to give to the Lord and His purposes?
- What if you sold one of your vehicles? The monthly car insurance payment on your second or third family car could become a regular contribution to support missionaries.
- What if you downsized your SUV for a more economic car that guzzles less gas? You could use the money saved on fuel to give away to those in need.
- What if you cut your cable service, and took out free DVD’s from the library instead?
- What if you canceled your landline service at home, or downgraded your cell phone plan?
- What if you started buying generic grocery items instead of brand name?
- What if you weaned yourself off that daily Starbucks run, and only indulged in a Grande Frappucino once a week?
These may seem like drastic measures at first glance – and maybe they are. But maybe it’s time that each of us asked the Lord to alter our thinking, shift our worldview, change our mindset, so that we might truly live as though “the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it …” (Psalm 24:1).
In his book, ‘Distinctives,’ Vaughan Roberts writes about how he views the money he earns as God’s money. He takes what he needs to survive, and gives the rest back to the Lord, as opposed to taking everything as if it is his.
We tend to think that we earn the money we have, and therefore it is ours to spend. As the Egg on Toast founder observed, “Giving is just not enough of a lifestyle. We think we deserve our salaries rather than seeing them as gifts from God.”
Randy Alcorn observes in his book, The Treasure Principle,
“Giving affirms Christ’s lordship. It dethrones me and exalts Him. It breaks the chains of mammom that enslave me.
As long as I still have something, I believe I own it. But when I give it away, I relinquish control, power and prestige. At the moment of release the lights go on. The magic spell is broken. My mind clears. I recognize God as owner and myself as servant, and others as intended beneficiaries of what God has entrusted to me.”
Have you recognized God as owner of all?
Maybe you scanned the list of ideas above and thought, “Surely inviting a friend over for coffee instead of meeting at Panera wouldn’t make that much difference to the Kingdom.” If this is your mindset, be encouraged by these words from A.W. Tozer, as quoted by Randy Alcorn in The Treasure Principle:
“As base a thing as money often is, it yet can be transmuted into everlasting treasure. It can be converted into food for the hungry and clothing for the poor; it can keep a missionary actively winning lost men to the light of the gospel and thus transmute itself into everlasting wealth. Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.”
Don’t underestimate what the Lord can do with your gifts and offerings.
Consider the attitude of those described in 2 Corinthians. Speaking about the Macedonian churches, Paul testifies “…that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:3).
He goes on to encourage the Corinthian church: “But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7).
What strikes me most about this section of Scripture is how the act of giving is so obviously viewed as a ‘privilege’ and a ‘grace.’ It is not a duty, nor an obligation. It should not be done grudgingly, “reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Ultimately, it’s God’s cash. Thank Him for the privilege of using it. Then find creative ways to use less of it for yourself, and give more of it back to Him.
What ideas can you share with other readers to promote Kingdom giving?
Kate Motaung is the wife of a South African pastor and homeschooling mom of three. She has contributed to Ungrind, Radiant Magazine, (in)Courage, StartMarriageRight.com, Thriving Family, MOPS and Young Disciple magazine. You can read more from Kate at her blog, Heading Home or on Twitter @k8motaung.
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