By Gary G. Hoag
We can’t guide others to a place we ourselves have not been, so helping people develop a biblical mindset that shapes their generosity starts with you and me. Consider three words of wisdom that we’ve learned as a family for helping people.
1. Hear and Do
The Bible tells us repeatedly to not just hear what God desires for us, but do what He says (see Luke 11:28; James 1:22). That’s easier said than done when it comes to passages about money.
For example, when we hear Jesus say things like “give to everyone who asks you” (Luke 6:30), we pause. We reason, “I can’t do that because if I do, I will end up empty.” What happens? We hear and don’t do, rather than hear and do. Yet, if we ponder further, this thought emerges. “What if Jesus is trying to teach us something?”
We’ve learned as a family that we can’t try to figure it out and then live it out. When we do, we overthink it. Obedience requires faith. We have learned that when we hear and do, we learn new things. God works in unexpected ways. We figure it out as we live it out!
In the case of the text I cited above, we have learned that when we obey, we don’t end up empty but rather enriched. In hearing and doing, we realize, God supplies the resources for our generosity, not us (see 2 Corinthians 9:10-11). We discover that it’s possible to obey Him and be generous on all occasions not because we are loaded with wealth but because God, our Supplier, is!
2. Learn to Follow
We don’t just hear and do what Jesus says once. We must make it a way of life. We learn best by listening and following over and over. In Colorado, my son, Sammy, and I enjoy fly fishing. We’ve even been blessed to collect a few master angler awards for catching trophy fish over hundreds of days of angling. We fish to enjoy God’s
creation and to spend time together. Through his licensed outfitting business, Sammy’s Fly Shop, he guides for clients each summer, and I assist him with larger groups. Basically, we get to teach people from all over the world to catch and release trout using fly rods in the cool waters of the Rocky Mountains.
I say this to tell you that the clients who tend to catch the most fish are those who set aside everything they think they know and follow our instructions with childlike faith. This relates to helping others develop a biblical mindset for generosity because to do so, we must set aside all we think we know about money in the economy of this world and follow Jesus in order to grasp life in God’s economy.
When Jesus says things like “go, sell everything you have and give to the poor” to people with more than enough money (Mark 10:21), my family has learned that He says this not to make us destitute, but to teach us to distribute His money. Our “extra” supplies someone else’s “not enough”, and we get the joy of delivering it.
3. Lead the Way
Back when our children were growing up (they are out of the house now), a wise friend said, “Your children will do what you do, not what you say.” So, we must not tell our kids what to do when it comes to generosity, but rather, show them. We lead the way.
For us leading the way meant reading the “red letters”, the words of Jesus in the Bible, and resolving to obey. This would help us and our children learn values like contentment, enjoyment, and sharing. But some texts are tough. For example, Jesus says, “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” but store them up in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). This one took us years to get.
Only after we released our financial wealth for God’s purposes, transferring it from earthly to eternal accounts through giving, did we realize that the gracious aim of Jesus was our maturity. Our hearts and affections started to follow where we put His money. My wife, Jenni, and I have found that in leading the way for our son and daughter, Sammy and Sophie, our love for God has grown together. We don’t have it all figured out, but we have learned that as we live it out, we grasp our role in God’s economy.
If you want to help others develop a biblical mindset that shapes their generosity, we have learned that it starts with hearing the Word and doing what it says. We have found that, like fly fishing, it’s not easy, so we must learn to follow with childlike faith. Trust Jesus as your Guide. We start to figure it out as we live it out. And we must lead the way, using the road map in the “red letters” of the Bible.
We promise, you won’t lose your life in the process, you will take hold of life in abundance on the journey.
This article was first published by ChristianSuper.
Author Bio: Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D. (New Testament, Trinity College Bristol, UK) a.k.a. “the Generosity Monk” (www.generositymonk.com) teaches at seminaries around the world, has authored or contributed to ten books, and champions the faithful administration of God’s work as ECFA International Liaison. He enjoys walks with his wife, Jenni, fly fishing with his son, Sammy, and coffee with his daughter, Sophie.
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