Coming from a penny-pinching home, my parents saved money rather than spending it. They were wise with the finances God gave them and didn’t work to get rich or store treasure on earth. While their example to me was mostly good, I didn’t see a lot of open generosity. As I grew up, I tended to sack money away for a rainy day and hesitated to use it or share it generously. God convicted my heart and has given me eyes to see needs and a heart more willing to give toward them.
With all of the Christian financial ministries out there like Dave Ramsey and Crown Ministry emphasizing savings, Christians can start to believe that saving money is the best and number one thing they should do with their money. But sometimes (perhaps more often than we like) God calls us to give our money away.
When should Christians save money and when should they give it away? Here are seven situations that call for a generous heart.
1. We Should Spend Money When it Grows the Kingdom
Yes, we should be wise with our money, but our money is meant to be used wisely. It isn’t meant to be hidden. In the parable of the talents, the one who invested it in something that would grow was entrusted with more.
The same goes for us. Missions work will always pay back dividends in the Kingdom. The same goes for investing in people whose lives are dedicated to spreading the gospel message.
2. We Should Spend Money When it Helps a Brother or Sister in Christ
I know a few Christians who tend to rely more on their church family to bail them out then to work to earn money to pay bills. Compounding this issue are several major bills that has made it almost impossible for them to dig out of the debt hole they are in. When they began to ask for donations online, I hesitated because I knew their history and poor spending habits. Yet, the Lord convicted me that it was not my job to say where the money they collected went. I gave generously knowing I was helping out my church family during a time of great need. It was up to them to be good stewards of what Go has entrusted them.
While it is true we need to be “as innocent as doves and shrewd as snakes” when it comes to all matters, it is important to do so when it comes to our church family as well.
3. We Should Give Generously When it Helps the Poor
Many times when I go to the city, I see homeless people holding out handwritten signs on torn pieces of cardboard donning the words, “need money to help feed my family.” It is easy for me to turn a blind eye or pretend they don’t really have the need they say they do. Yet the gospel is clear: the poor will always be among us. Proverbs 19:17 says, “whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord; and He will reward them for what they have done.” Zechariah 7:8-10 and Romans 12:11-13 are two of many other verses that challenge us as Christians to defend the rights of the needy, feed the poor and be a voice to the voiceless.
It is not fair to assume the money will go towards addictions or other destructive behaviors. When I give generously, it is not up to me to play judge and jury with someone’s money. The only command the Lord gives is to give generously. In so doing, the Lord will reward me.
4. We Should Spend Money to Meet a Tangible Need
In this world of the American Dream, many people are afraid to ask for help, for fear it looks weak. Christians especially have difficulty asking for monetary help. Yet, God has blessed many people for the sole purpose of helping others in need. A large bank account paired with the spiritual gift of giving can make a huge dent in the financial needs of the church.
This can be as simple as giving to a church’s benevolent fund or having a family in the church help out simply because they have the means to do so. A benevolent fund is an especially great way to give because those funds are monitored by a board and the pastor or other people in leadership decide on to whom and how the money is spent. Those leaders may have additional insight into a person’s need and may be helpful in making that decision for you, if you are hesitant about helping out.
5. We Should Spend Money When it Helps a Growing Church Keep Growing
While sometimes churches can focus more on building projects then the people with on their church walls, this is not always the case. God has some churches growing numerically and will quickly outgrow their sanctuaries. To combat this, churches often hold building funds or have events where the church can give to build on an addition or update the inside. Although not always an ideal situation to give to, there are times when a church simply needs to expand its physical location to hold all the people whom God is bringing.
If you are hesitant to give to this type of need, analyze your heart. Ask yourself why you are having such difficulty with this. Is this an area of pride or rebellion on your part? Or is it a sign that God is at work and He is asking you to partner with him in that work? If you are being called to help out to a building do it. Whether you see a tax write off or not, you are investing in Kingdom work that will reap dividends for generations to come.
6. We Are Called to Give Generously as Part of Our Tithe
This is a non-negotiable in the life of a Christian. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Christians are called to give ten percent of their income to impact the world. The most obvious place to give it is to your local church body. While everyone should be connected to a local church, the reality is that is not always the case. In these times, find a worthy cause or charity. In every situation give generously. Don’t hold back what you know you should give to the Lord like Ananias and Sapphira. They held back a portion and the Lord was not pleased. Tithing demonstrates God’s working power in our lives. Additionally, it is an act of worship. When we drop our envelopes in the offering plate, we demonstrate God’s reality in our lives in every area—including our money.
7. We Are Sometimes Called to Give When it Is All We Have
In the moments when we feel like we can’t give because we have so little, that is sometimes when God calls us to give the most. In the parable of the widow’s mite (Luke 21 and Mark 12), the woman, a widow, gave two coins—all she had—to God. In turn, she was richly blessed. Jesus said, “this poor widow put more into the treasury than all the others.”
In our weakest moments, God is strongest. When we think we can’t give, God shows up and makes a way. Take a leap of faith and give, even when you don’t think you will have enough for basic necessities. Watch as God shows up in ways you won’t be able to imagine.
Knowing when to give your money and when to save it is not always easy. But one reality that is clear throughout scripture is this—we cannot out give God. In the moments when we give God our two pennies or we have the capacity to give much more, we are called to give our money to change the world, not to fatten our pockets. This is a way the world knows who God is in our lives—when we invest in others to make a positive impact for the Kingdom of God.
Image Credit: ©Getty/JNemchinova
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.