In The Day They Shook the Plum Tree Arthur H. Lewis tells the strange, but true story of Hetty Green. She died in 1916, the richest and most detested female in America. She had $100 million dollars in the bank, but ate crackers and cold oatmeal because she was too cheap to buy good food. Her own son's leg had to be amputated because she was didn't want to spend the money to see a doctor.
They're all dead now -- Hetty and her two children. Her millions were distributed where they were least needed and where they accomplished a minimum of good.
Self-centered or Christ-centered?
Many Christians (when it comes to their attitude toward money) are more like Hetty Green than like Christ. I'm simply talking about being self-centered instead of Christ-centered; being stingy instead of generous.
Transformation requires surrender
The truth is that many Christians keep some places within their hearts off limits to Christ's control. Receiving the grace of God often provides a wonderful sense of relief, peace, joy and hope. Letting Jesus change us and transform us to be like Him requires a kind of surrender that often feels like death.
As a result it seems easier to become a Christian than it does to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. And no where is this more true than in the area of being a
God's Grace is the basis for change
In II Corinthians 8 Paul explains that the only way people could be changed into selfless, sacrificing, giving people was the work of the grace of God in their lives.
They gave themselves first to the Lord, then to us in keeping with God's will. I Corinthians 8:5
Christian giving is motivated by grace
The motivation is God's grace, not our guilt. This is the #1 problem in sermons, studies and programs on giving. A framework of grace is not seen, known or felt. The result is that average believers give their money to relieve their guilt and to get God to like like them.
Are you a bucket or a funnel?
God's Spirit is transforming us from being a "bucket" to becoming a "funnel". God is changing us into people who will be a channel that flows into the
lives of others.
In II Corinthians 9 Paul describes the marks of generous people.
Christian giving has a plan
They planned this gift for over a year. Generosity is planned.
We have all seen budget books. Perhaps you use one for your household budget. The purpose is to help people plan how to spend their money. I saw one with four major sections -- fixed expenses, living expenses, business expenses, and savings. Then it had a category for everything else -- Miscellaneous. According to this book, giving to God's work would be listed under miscellaneous. Do we put our giving under "miscellaneous?" Giving people do not consider their generosity as "miscellaneous."
It's the law of the harvest. He who sows sparingly reaps sparingly. He who sows generously reaps generously.
This is what permits the Christian to be a cheerful giver. He knows that as he shovels out, God will shovel in and God's shovel is bigger than his.
"Reaping generously" doesn't necessarily mean that God rewards us with money. There are many blessings other than cash.
Christian giving has a purpose
The purpose for giving is that God will be thanked and praised. Also, that people will have their needs met.
Many of us use checks to pay bills. In the lower left corner we write what the check is for. If we give a check to God's work, what would we write on this line?
Do we give because God is short of cash? to impress people and get a tax deduction? No.
We give that God's name on earth may be exalted and expanded.
We give that God's people may be helped, encouraged and served.