There is this beautiful story found within the Gospel of Luke and Mark where Jesus is at the temple and he is watching those who are giving into the offering plate. Around him are the rich, who are giving much. Out of their abundance, they give great sums of money. Yet, in the midst of this story, there is this woman who only gives two copper coins. It is after this moment that Jesus calls his disciples to Himself and begins to speak into this moment;
“Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
( Mark 12:43, ESV)
Jesus reminds his disciples that out of abundance it is easy for one to give, but that true generosity and faith do not come out of an abundance but out of the sincerity of our hearts. That even when we have very little we are still called to give back.
My student loans hit the other week. The monthly payment is pretty hefty, while I am working on getting income-based repayments figured out, which luckily is almost finished, the current payment is set at a little over $500 a month. For perspective, that is a little over what I pay for rent for my tiny one-bedroom apartment in Cincinnati. Couple that with the fact that I honestly don’t make that much money can leave you in a spot where you are frighted and terrified about making ends meet. Especially when I am already a worrier by nature.
Finances as a 24-year-old are weird. You have these moments where you feel like you have an abundance and things are incredibly easy, then you have moments like I had the other week, where you are terrified about making ends meet.
Money is a spiritual thing. What you spend your money on, how you view money and the emotions that are tied to it often speak a lot about your heart. There are two mindsets that we tend to live our lives with when it comes to money.
Scarcity and abundance
The first of mindsets is called scarcity. When we live our lives with a scarcity mindset we begin to worry most about how we can order the most money possible because we are afraid that at some point we are going to run out. These are the people who don’t like spending any money and will do whatever they can to make sure they don’t ever have a certain amount of money. When we live life with a scarcity mindset then we often times wonder when the bank account will reach $0.00. There is also an abundance mindset. The great downside of the abundance mindset is the thought that they are never going to run out of money. This usually leads to people being wasteful with their money and how they use it. Seeking to acquire more and more stuff.
The problem with both of these mindsets is that they both tend to be extremes. We as human beings tend to live our life on a pendulum of extremes.
However, what if Jesus wants us to realign our thinking. What if he doesn’t want us to be fearful of how we spend our money or how much money we have? What if Jesus wants to take the best parts of the abundance and scarcity mindset and combine them.
A generosity mindset believes that not only is there a scarcity of resources but an abundance of them. While that might sound like a paradox in thinking I would love it if you heard me out. When it comes to money I believe God calls us to be a good steward of the resources he has given us. Each person has a finite amount of resources. From the person who opens the bank app on their phone and sees thousands of dollars to the person who opens their bank account and has twenty-five dollars.
The call from that moment once you have defined how much resources you have is to then be a good steward of them. This is where the scarcity mindset comes in. You decided to be smart with the finite amount of resources you have. That means instead of going out to coffee every day you only get coffee out once a week and make coffee at home the rest of the week. A scarcity mindset when it comes to thinking generously recognizes the importance of how and why we spend our money.
Then how you view your money as a resource when it comes to helping people is how the abundance mindset comes in. Because we were good stewards with our money we can start to really dive into the thought of what it means to be generous and give back.
Not just with a tithe at church, but to the homeless person on the street, the random person in a coffee shop, to a missionary, to a friend in need. The generosity mindset lets us combine being a good steward with being overly zealous with what we give.
Generosity out of the heart
It’s easy for us to be generous when we feel like we have a lot of money, not so easy when we feel like we have nothing. But, when we decided to combine the two mindsets I believe we can get to the truth of what Jesus is teaching us in the passage above. For me right now I’ve been learning the balance between saving, spending and paying off debt. It’s not an easy task. However, I’ve committed that to be a good steward of what God has given me I must be generous with my money as much as I am enjoying life with it and paying off debt. Generosity, true generosity comes from the heart. It’s not choosing to give our money or resources because we have to or because we have the extra money.
Generosity should come from the heart of giving everything we have because we want to give back to God what he has given us.