In the post Giving to the Needy, we saw how God wants us to relate to those who may be less fortunate. We saw from Deuteronomy 15:7-10 that God commands we give to them. Our hearts should be sensitive to their need and we should give freely, generously and cheerfully.
The main point of these verses is that in our relationship with the poor we should not forget to give to them. But I can’t help but feel there is something deeper here that speaks to an internal attitude that has the potential to cripple our ability to truly prosper and be blessed. It’s found in the phrase “open your hand.”
I have a little exercise for you.
Close your eyes and make your hand into a fist. Now try to squeeze your fist as hard as you can for about a minute. Ready? Go! How does it feel? What is your body sensing? Do you feel the tension? Forearm getting tight…wrists locked up…fingers cramping…nails digging into your palm. What thoughts are running through your mind? Wish you could stop?
Now try a different exercise, this time with your hand opened flat, fingers extended, with your palm facing the ceiling. All right…begin. What feelings do you notice this time? Are they different? More relaxing…less tension…more peaceful? How have your thoughts changed with your hand opened?
In exercise one, all I could do was focus on the task. Trying to do that for one minute consumed my mind. It was all I could think about. It also became increasingly painful as time wore on. My forearm was burning. I still have nail marks in my hands. But exercise two was easy. In fact, I felt no pain and was very relaxed. Actually, I found that after 20 seconds or so my mind starting drifting. My relaxed state allowed me to focus on some other things in my life for a few moments. For these reasons, I would choose to attempt exercise two over exercise one any day of the week. It is funny though that, as it relates to money, we choose exercise one all the time.
How We Let Money Control Us
A clenched fist or an open hand…these are the two vastly different approaches about how you can think about money.
When you hold your money tightly you seemingly have more control over it. Your money stays locked up with you. You focus on your possession of it and you work at keeping it to yourself all the time. It consumes you. Your mindset in this scenario is greatly controlled by fear of the future (“What if something awful happens and I need all that money?”).
You probably even have a little anger thrown into your spirit about something money related. And in some small way, you might be telling God, “You know, I’m not sure I trust you enough or have enough faith that you will provide for me. I better do it myself and keep all I can.”
The irony in this scenario is that you don’t have control over your money. It has control of you. The more you try to control it, the more it controls you. And, while it is true when you grasp your money tightly none will leave your hand, it is also true that you cannot extend a closed hand and receive anything into it. You will have a real challenge receiving financial or spiritual blessings from God and others when your fist is tightly closed.
I know, I know. It doesn’t make sense to think that when you open your hand and let money “escape” that you will be better off financially. You would think the more you could hold on to the better off you would be. $500 a month given to your local church or charity would equal almost a quarter of a million dollars over 40 years (not including interest). That is a great chunk of dough for a retirement account.
The point you are missing if you feel this way is that the blessings of God come when we trust in Him and obey. Remember, this was a command. And the reward for those who obediently gave was blessing from God.
That blessing could be an earthly financial return. It could be an internal emotional and spiritual return that touches your heart and mind. Or it could be the best return yet, an eternal reward given to us in heaven when we meet our Creator face to face. Those rewards cannot be measured in monetary terms. They are priceless.
You can choose to always hold your money tightly in the vice grip of death. Or you can choose to open your hand from time to time and follow the commands of God to give. I believe you will find more peace and prosperity if you make it a practice to live life with an open hand.
(P.S. Thank you to Dave Ramsey for teaching this in FPU. It is a revolutionary financial concept that rocked my world!)
What barriers do you face to giving? How does it make you feel when you give to others?
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