Let me ask you a question, “Do you consider yourself to be a generous person?” If you are like most people, then you answered “Yes.” Maybe you feel generous because you give regularly to good causes, serve food to the homeless, or at times pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Perhaps you feel generous because you faithfully tithe 10% to your local church. All of these are good things to do, but are they good indicators of being a generous person?
The Bible provides some clear criteria for knowing whether you are a generous person and how you can become one. Here are some characteristics of true generosity:
True generosity gives the first to God. When you receive a paycheck or any other source of income, giving to the Lord should be your first and top priority. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” Generous people recognize all they possess belongs to God, and so they give to Him their first and their best.
True generosity gives in proportion to your income. Jesus taught us this when He said, “…from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). A tithe, or 10% of your income, is a good starting point for determining the amount you give. But Jesus didn’t limit the amount to a particular number. We should give more or less in proportion to how much God blesses us with.
True generosity gives systematically. Generosity is not a feeling or simply giving a few bucks to someone as a random act of kindness. Being generous is a lifestyle. That’s what Paul is getting at when he writes to the church in Corinth, “On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up…” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Generous people give regularly in accordance with what they have decided ahead of time to do.
True generosity gives sacrificially. Jesus’ model for generosity was a widow who gave her last penny. One day Jesus was at the temple watching some wealthy people give their offering, but then a poor widow came to give only two small coins. He told His disciples, “This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:3-4). Generous people understand the amount sacrificed always supersedes amount given.
True generosity gives cheerfully. Generous people want to give as an act of worship in response to who God is and all that He’s done. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We should not give grudgingly out of guilt or obligation. Generosity is giving thoughtfully, voluntarily and with a joyful spirit.
God does not ask of us anything that He has not first done for us. The most famous verse in the Bible begins, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). God is the ultimate model for true generosity. You and I are made in the image of God and we are most like Him when we give. Together, let’s take our next step to becoming the generous person God has made us to be.
Take your next step to becoming the generous person God has called you to be by participating in an upcoming Legacy Journey class. Learn how to manage your wealth responsibly and share it to make an impact in the lives of the Kingdom of God for generations to come during this 7-week class.
If you are like most people, you cringe when you hear the word budget. And you’ve probably already thought of three reasons you don’t need one. Or maybe you know it’s something you should do, but never get around to actually doing it. No matter what your story is, it’s time to accept the reality that we all need a budget!
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds. (Proverbs 27:23 NIV)
Budgeting is an essential part of a faithful steward’s life. God has entrusted everyone with resources, and the Bible calls us to carefully manage it (Proverbs 27:23). Budgeting is an important spiritual discipline that puts God in charge of your finances.
If you aren’t already living on a budget, then the process of actually creating a budget might seem overwhelming. And the thought of sticking to a budget may feel like the equivalent of sucking all the fun out of your life. But a budget isn’t about complicating your life. It actually makes your life easier by knowing where your money is going. Don’t think of it as rules for how you can’t spend your money. It’s really giving yourself permission to spend because you’ve planned ahead of time.
So let me answer a few questions and share some keys to budgeting success.
When should you create your budget? Before the beginning of each month you should sit down and make a plan for your money. If you are married, then do this together with your spouse. Turn budgeting into a habit by making it a recurring monthly event on your busy calendar. I suggest doing this 5 to 10 days prior to the first day of the month.
How do you make a budget? Start by figuring out how much money you have to work with for the upcoming month. And be sure to include all sources of income. Include your income, your spouse’s income and any other money you plan to take in (i.e., yard sale earnings).
Next, spend every dollar on paper, on purpose. Give every dollar a name. When you finish planning for the month ahead, you should be able to subtract your expenses from your income to equal zero. Your budget isn’t complete until there is a plan for all of that month’s money.
Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. (Proverbs 3:9 NLT)
The order in which you budget money is important. Give, then save and then spend — in that order. The Bible instructs us to give to God first (Proverbs 3:9). Calculate 10% of your total income for the month and set that aside for your tithe. Saving should be your next priority. Pay yourself and prepare for future needs and wants. If you don’t budget giving and saving first, then you may spend everything and have nothing left. Now you are ready to allocate money to all the other categories where you will spend that month.
What should you do when you get to the bottom of your budget and there is money left over? Well, after you finish your happy dance, make sure you put that money to good use. Maybe add some money to savings for a future expense. Or give yourself some “fun money” that month and satisfy your desire for (planned) spontaneity. However, be prepared to make some cuts when your expenses add up to more than that month’s income. Don’t budget to spend money you won’t have.
Budgeting isn’t a one-time exercise. Each month has a different set of expenses. Some expenses are fixed and remain the same each month. But many budget categories are flexible and will change from month to month. In September we celebrate the birthday of several friends and family, so our budget for gift giving increases. August is back-to-school month and that means planning to buy lots of school supplies. Budgeting apps like EveryDollar by Ramsey Solutions make it easy to create a budget each month and track your spending while on the go.
When you first start living on a budget, expect it will take a few months to get the hang of it. You may forget to plan for an expense or overspend in some category, but don’t get discouraged and give up. Just review your budget and make adjustments. With a little patience and some determination, in a few months, you will have a budget you can rely on and some new positive money habits.
Get more help with budgeting by participating in next Financial Peace University class. Learn biblical principles for managing money, spending and saving wisely, and eliminating debt during this 9-week class.
True Generosity: Characteristics of a Generous Person
May 1, 2017
Marriage and Money: Five Tips for a Healthy Marriage
April 3, 2017
8/18 Debt-Free Challenge: Barnes and Amos Families Share their Story
January 31, 2017
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